ENID, Okla. — Editor’s note: This column was first published Dec. 12, 2004.
Marriage is one of the most marvelous adventures on which any man and woman can embark.
Some are postponing that adventure. U.S. Census Bureau figures for 2003 show the average age at which someone typically marries for the first time has risen to 25.3 for women and 27.1 for men.
In 1970, the average age was 20.8 for women and 23.2 for men. I was 22 when I married in 1975, young even by the standards of the time, but I didn’t want to wait.
The union of two souls truly is a lifetime journey.
And, as with any journey, there are times when you are cruising down a smooth six-lane interstate on a sunny day, and there are times when you are bouncing along a chuckhole-infested stretch of barely graded dirt that hardly deserves to be called a road.
Those lousy dirt road moments often are precipitated by outside influences, chiefly home repair projects.
If you want to test your marriage, or strain it nearly to the breaking point, get it in your head to fix something around the house, and to do it together. A balky closet door, discovered just as we were about to retire for the night, was our latest brush with domestic discord.
The folding door, it seemed, had come off the track somehow, so I decided to set the matter right, no matter the lateness of the hour. Actually the door had come off the track at just one point, a condition that should have been easy to fix.
It would have been, that is, were I not so mechanically challenged.
I can screw in a light bulb, but I screw up anything even mildly more challenging.
The closet situation was helped not at all by the fact that, in trying to get the door back on the track at that one measly point, I managed to remove it from its moorings altogether.
My bride, bless her, was the picture of support.
She kept trying to help me wrestle the door back into place, and offered helpful observations about how my technique for repairing the door was hopelessly flawed.
I have been known, on rare occasions, to actually fix things around the house — I just can’t think of one at the moment. There was the ... no, we wound up throwing that away. Then I ... no, that still doesn’t work. Well, there was the time ... actually, I’ve never seen one of those installed upside-down before.
I offered to replace a leaky faucet once.
My wife instantly interposed herself between me and the leaking plumbing fixture like a mother sheep trying to protect her lamb from a ravenous wolf.
But, back to the closet. Among my numerous other physical limitations, I have the visual acuity of your average mole.
So I was on the floor, nose to the ground and rump in the air trying to hold the closet door upright while trying to make out the slot where the door needed to fit.
Suddenly my wife spoke up.
“You’ll get mad if I make a suggestion,” she said. She was right, of course, if a bit tardy. I had gotten mad about six suggestions ago. I tried her suggestion anyway. It didn’t work.
In my anger I recalled the example of another couple we know, and the crisis they experienced while trying to install outdoor decorative lighting, the kind that gently illuminates front walks and such.
After a long, frustrating day of trying in vain to get the lighting installed and working, the husband snatched up the whole mess and threw it in a trash can, a non-productive but nonetheless soul-satisfying outcome, to be sure.
I considered a similar solution to my predicament, but we have no trash cans big enough to contain something the size of the closet doors.
Finally, after a seemingly interminable period of sweating, struggling and muttering mild obscenities, the door suddenly, seemingly miraculously, popped back into its track.
My wife offered her congratulations, hailing me as her “fix-it man.” I don’t think she was kidding, which is one reason I love her so.
Another is that we have never violated the three main rules of blissful wedlock — never cheat, never lie and never, ever attempt to hang wallpaper together.
Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.