Stress: Marriage vs. Jail Term

By Stoddard, Maynard Good | The Saturday Evening Post, September 1987 | Go to article overview

Stress: Marriage vs. Jail Term


Stoddard, Maynard Good, The Saturday Evening Post


I have just come across a chart listing "Life's Events According to Stress." And the reason I am taking typewriter in hand (no mean trick in itself) is to complain about "Marriage" being placed way down in the No. 7 spot. That isn't the worst of it. What has really got my hackles up is that "Jail Term" has been rated No. 4, for Pete's sake!

There are husbands, I'm sure, who would go so far as to say that the two entries are synonymous. But not me, brother. I may be in enough trouble for suggesting that the questionnaire that gathered the information must have been sent to wives and bachelors only.

When it comes to the event called Marriage, I have been a participant since December 7, 1941. (Or was that the beginning of our war with Japan? I get the two dates confused.) Anyway, when it comes to stress, I have come to envy the wet bird perched on a high-tension wire and scratching out lice.

A wet bird has never had to lather its face with Cool Whip because the last of its shaving cream was used in decorating the Christmas tree.

A wet bird has never known the stress of hearing its mate call through the bathroom door, "I forgot to tell you, I painted the toilet seat!"

A wet bird has never been required to return a pound cake to the Kroger store because it weighed only 14 1/2 ounces.

A wet bird has never answered the phone to hear his mate say, "Hanlon Bros. Hardware doesn't have a two-inch socket wrench. Should I get two one-inchers?"

Much of the stress in marriage, according to other authorities, arises from money. Not money per se but the lack thereof. Of which we have plenty. Of lack, that is. The way my mate gets rid of money you'd think that it was printed by lepers. And that the quicker she can get rid of the stuff, the less risk she runs of having her skin fall off.,

Sales are one of the favorite conveniences for saving her hide. If this woman who united her plight with mine in the trough of holy wedlock, or however that goes, sees a $12.95 lobster pot reduced to $7.98, I might as well begin taking off the car door and removing the back seat, because she's going to buy it. It matters not that the nearest lobster is 900 miles from Owen County, Indiana, as long as she beat the lobster-pot retailers out of a handsome $4.97.

Another stress that has raised its ugly head at our house concerns hubby's staying home while wife, an R.N., is employed. Made all the more stressful when wife is convinced that free-lance writing and retirement are one and the same. I am equally convinced that a wife keeps a score sheet on her husband's peccadilloes when she is in charge of the housework. We're talking here of maybe leaving the cap off the toothpaste tube, hanging his pajamas on the bedroom floor, polishing his black shoes on her white cat-little things like that. Now along comes the old switcheroo: she's out of the house and he's at home. And he's going to pay. . . pay. . .PAY!

In those halcyon days when I would come home from selling pantyhose door-to-door, my dear wife would have the house so tidy I'd think company was coming. Today, she isn't home ten minutes before our joint could qualify for a federal loan as a disaster area.

The bathroom in particular is where she becomes a horse of a different color, you might say. (You might say it, but not me, brother.) The things that come out of her hair alone are enough to camouflage the lavatory top and the toilet-tank cover.

The other night I saw something wiggling in the mess and killed it with my shaving cream can. After its demise wife let me know that I had demised her one and only "switch." And she wouldn't even help me clean the shaving cream off the walls and the ceiling.

There's another little matter. Now that I am preparing the meals (or mess, as she jokingly refers to them) and she has the latest thing in dishwashers-a husband at home--wife thinks nothing of emptying the cupboards at every meal, Frankly, I don't think much of it myself. …

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