The First Thirty Four Years of Marriage Are the Hardest

By Ann Ipock

The First Thirty Four Years of Marriage Are the Hardest

According to Susan Miller, founder of Astrology Zone, a Virgo (me) and a Gemini (hub Russ) should actually click! Hold on a minute: Did she say click or clash? Though I’m not sure I agree with the following statement, she says, “You have so many things in common, you may find you are a bit too much alike!” Well, if that’s true, how come we’re so different?

Case in point: At bedtime, he turns up the air conditioning to 76. I go behind him and turn it down to 70. He then goes behind me again – well, you get the point. Yeah, we’re alike alright – in that we’re both extremely determined. Today he threw out about forty heavy, plastic coat hangers (from cleaning out a closet recently) that are perfectly good. I planned to donate them to Vintage Values, a nonprofit, which helps run the local domestic shelter. But I didn’t say a word. I just picked them up out of the recycling bin (in the garage) and moved them to a safe place. We do that. It’s kind of like Peter Sellers of Pink Panther and Cato, Sellers’ sidekick, except with us it’s not physical as much as it is mental.

You know, it almost didn’t happen: our marriage, that is. Hub Russ and I dated in 1979 a few times, but the relationship nearly ended when he told me his job was being relocated from our home town of Jacksonville, North Carolina, to – of all places – Conway, South Carolina, (easily a four hour commute). He said he’d call me if he came back to visit. Then, a few weeks later, I literally bumped into him at the post office as he was walking in, and I was walking out. It turned out his transfer didn’t go through. The rest is history – or is it? More like a mystery! After a three-month whirlwind relationship, we became engaged, then married four months later. Who would’ve guessed six years later, we would move to Myrtle Beach, living in South Carolina a full twenty years before returning to North Carolina once again?

Our marriage can be summed up like this riddle: “One of these is not like the other one.” Heck, it’s our mission statement! I tell Russell, “You knew I was crazy when you married me, and you did it anyway.” It’s true that I couldn’t be any more abnormal, quirky or different. I don’t know why. Scientists haven’t yet isolated that gene. I wonder if they ever will.

But don’t get me wrong. Russell isn’t exactly normal either. What is normal, I wonder? Anybody that wears golf shirts to sleep (I hate that), or worse yet, wears bedroom slippers and a white undershirt to the grocery store – only after dark, (I hate that too), isn’t “all there” either.

The other day, as we sat in a well-known restaurant, we were served after-dinner mints along with the bill. (Something else I’ve wondered about: Do they think these sweet treats will soften the blow of the money we’re spending? For instance, “Oh, Tamara, is this peach tea really over $3.00 with tax? Seems a little high to me! Wait! Never mind, I love these Andes mints! It was worth it!” Nope, not gonna happen.) That day; however, I opened my dark chocolate candy and let out a sensuous, “Mmmmmm….” In the middle of my fifth “M” Russell said, right out of the blue, “See! That’s what I mean about you and me being different,” “Huh?” I said. “Look!” he pointed out how I balled up the foil wrapper quite haphazardly and threw it down. “So?” I said. Then he pointed out his wrapper, neatly folded, not once, not twice, but perhaps a dozen times until it was the size of a mustard seed. Big deal!

I wasn’t impressed. I mean, it’s not like a virtue or anything. He couldn’t win a contest or impress anyone with this non-skill. What it did show me is that he must’ve rolled up a heck of a lot of spitballs in his youth; or maybe he folded them square-like, for an even greater impact. That’s fine if you’re into origami. I’m not.

As we’ve gotten older, we’ve both starting ignoring lots of irritating, little habits. His chewing ice still drives me bonkers, but he asked me recently why I don’t fuss at his golfing buddy when he does this. Good question, so I quit. My leaving the microwave on, after I remove the dish with ten seconds left, blinking the number “10” wildly, doesn’t make him complain anymore either. He just hits “cancel” and goes on about his business.

It’s like I told my best friend the other day, the first thirty-four years of marriage are the hardest. After that you’re too tired, numb, crazy (or, you fill in the blank) to argue any more. Then it gets easier!

About this writer

  • Ann Ipock Ann Ipock, the first Sasee hat recipient, is the author of the “Life is Short” humor trilogy. She currently writes for four publications and lives in Wilmington, North Carolina, with her husband, Russell.

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2 Responses to “The First Thirty Four Years of Marriage Are the Hardest”

  1. Linda O'Connell says:

    Ann, I think we may have married brothers, or at least cousins. Funny and relatable.

  2. Rose Ann says:

    Can definitely relate–it’s a wonder our thermostat isn’t broken from overuse. Love your story.

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