When I was a kid we had detached garage that had at one point been a barn. In other words, it was quite large. Feral cats would move into it to birth kittens, and then we’d be stuck with not only feral cats, but feral kittens. My mom was big on trying to tame the kittens, so we’d take a saucer out to the garage and fill it with milk. The kittens would eventually creep out to it, and with time they wouldn’t even mind if you sat nearby watching them. That’s how we tamed cats—with a trap.
I mention this, because I’m starting to think my wife views me as nothing more than a big blonde kitten. Part of my suspicion stems from the saucer of milk I find bedside every morning, but a bigger part comes from the questions she poses casually to me. Here’s a hint—they’re traps. We all know the standard line that a wife asks her husband if a certain dress makes her look fat, but all but the dumbest of us see right through that one. Look, even if the dress has a pattern of a school bus on it, we’re not saying anything.
My wife is sneakier, however. She asks question such as, “Do you ever wish you were still single?” I immediately shout back no, hoping a lack of hesitation will equate with a validation of commitment. But it doesn’t end there, because she comes back with, “Really?” Now, I know really she doesn’t want to know really, but I also know she’s incredibly adept at spotting me fake it. She could be the Simon Cowell of an acting competition, tearing apart contestants because they didn’t sell disillusionment, and then pointing out that, no, she hasn’t just introduced irony into the situation. It’s one of the wonders of being married to acting evaluating, grammar nerd.
But back to “really.” I always fail at really, so instead I try being honest. “No, why would I want to be single again? I like not having to think.” At this point Admiral Ackbar is slapping his fishy forehead because I’ve missed his pleads of, “It’s a trap!” But women, let me explain. Marriage is a great nullifier of one of man’s primary concerns—finding a woman. Once married we no longer concern our brains with this pursuit, which at any given time prior to marriage occupied 30-40% of our brain cycles. With that burden lifted, we feel a great relief and relaxation. Sure, we still might look at other women, but no longer do we concern ourselves with pseudo-clever things to say to her. She’s more like wallpaper to us—very attractive to look at, but nothing we want to stand around in a Lowe’s fretting over.
Women, of course, get the same benefit from marriage. No longer do they worry if we will call after the date, and their brains are thankful for the reprieve. However, men introduce other stresses by the nature of who we are. No wife sees her husband at work in the garage without worrying that the next morning she might find a wrench in the washing machine because, “It needed cleaning.” Husbands, on the other hand, don’t worry if you to decide to paint a room of the house a light pink, because there’s always another room we can go into, instead.
And this is why marriage adds years to a man’s life and takes them away from a woman’s.