Six months before my wedding day an older man tapped my shoulder in the post office and offered some free advice. "Ramona's a lovely girl," he said, licking a stamp. "She deserves a good husband. Marry her before she finds one."
And that's what I decided to do. But before Ramona agreed, she sat me down one Sunday after church, placed my hands on a Bible and asked me the usual questions:
"You are pretty good at basketball, Phil, but have you ever in your life been able to hit a laundry hamper?
"Will you refrain from using phrases like 'I told you so,' 'I never had to chew my mother's tomato soup,' or 'is there anything to eat around here?'
"Will you agree to take me shopping once a year just for fun? Will you pace the floors while I am in the changing room or will you relax a little?"
I didn't feel comfortable lying to her right there in the sanctuary, so we retreated to the parking lot where I kissed her deeply and agreed to work on these things.
Six months later we stood at an altar as a preacher peppered me with more questions: "Wilt thou take this woman to be thy lawfully wedded wife, Phil? Will you rinse the sink when you shave and make the bed when you're the last one out of it? Will you forget baseball statistics and remember her birthday? Will you affirm, admire, and accept her—and quit eating chicken wings with a fork, so long as you both shall live?"
I agreed to work on these things, then I kissed her deeply.
Minutes later, as I stood in the receiving line watching people I'd never met kiss my bride, the same man who approached me in the post office whispered some more advice: "She looks mighty fine today," he said, "but she'll drive you nuts sometimes. I've been married fifty-six years. I should know." Leaning closer, he tapped my shoulder with his cane. "You want a happy marriage?" he said. "When the things that attracted you to her start to drive you apart, find a way to reverse the process."1