What is it that binds people in marriage, really? I wonder this often. Especially I wonder it after yet another tussle with my mate over whose turn is it this time to clean the cat-vomit from the rug where an artsy feline of ours likes to ‘work,’ creating colorful collages of grass and fur and mouse parts, all bound in a matrix of recycled cat-chow. What is the agent, that cat-chow-like, holds couples together?
For some maybe it’s the flowers and greeting cards that bind people like duct tape over the years of birthdays and anniversaries. For some it’s the vows alone maybe. What I think really holds couples together? Shared moments of humor. For me the real glue comes from the laughs you have, which hold you together not like duct tape (stickily) or like Superglue (permanently) but more like the scratchy kiss of Velcro, which by its nature binds like to unlike.
Study Velcro up close and you’ll see it: A zillion tiny hooks catch a zillion tiny loops and there it is: the good firm fit, the yin and the yang, the unification of opposites. So too, my mate and I are vastly different. While I sleep like the dead at night, he has trouble sleeping at all and says he ponders shaving my eyebrows off or drawing whiskers on my face as I snooze on, oblivious to all. Me, I can‘t sleep mornings. By 5:30 I’m up, organizing the world and running loads of wash. I can’t stand to see others indulging the sleep-late habit, which to me shows weakness of character.
He claims I barge in and make the bed, even while he’s still in it but I deny it. Much humor in marriage arises from denying the obvious.
Another difference between us, between many men and women in fact: Men like teasing and find it funny. Women hate teasing and find it cruel.
Old Dave and I were brushing our teeth together one day lately and when he got done he leaned down, as is his habit since boyhood, to slurp water directly from the faucet.
“What are you, 12?” I said, pointing to the two nice ruby-tinted tumblers. “When will you start using one of the cups?!” “Never,” he answered. “The cats drink from them.”
That stopped me for less than a second. “Only from yours,” I said, thinking, “Ho! This wiseguy stuff ain’t just for the fellas.”
The truth is, we get a kick out of our differences. And, after all this time, we’ve stopped trying to change each other. So big deal, we’re apples and oranges, hooks and loops. So we pull away from each other with a good rip now and then. The laughs we have join us up again.