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Fancy underwear and awkward moments

After nearly 16 years of marriage, I declare my spouse a survivor.

And I have some sage advice on how to (hopefully) get your spouse to stick around until he/she’s too senile to remember why you’re there.

1. If you can’t help it, be honest.

Some things should never be said, but after a quarter century of marriage, I couldn’t hold it in any longer. While watching my husband Matthew daintily putting spoon to mouth while enjoying his millionth bowl of ice cream, I blurted out:

“You eat dessert like an old British lady at a church bazaar!”

My slip made me reflect on the fact that although I eat like a horse, he has never once said it to my face. He’s my better half in so many ways.

2. Be polite.

If you don’t say “Bless you!” when someone sneezes in my house, you’re likely to get cursed. Unless you’re a guest, of course; then we’ll just make faces behind your back.

“Bless you” is the pinnacle of civility according to Matthew. For years of our marriage he lambasted me each time I didn’t say bless you when he manfully sneezed. Now I’m so scared not to bless people that I nervously cry, “Bless you!” when anyone coughs, burps or passes gas in this house. I even bless myself when no one else is around.

3. Save your jealousy for special occasions.

Let’s say your husband has a casual work event, and you’re suffering from PMS. You pass out face-down on the living room couch, only to get ready last minute, choosing your most comfortable skirt and shoes that remind you of your grandma.

At the company shindig, your husband greets his pretty young coworker as she arrives in ripped jeans with an entourage of hip friends, and you agonize over whether you’re even wearing mascara.

I wouldn’t tell you that it’s “right” to be jealous in such cases, but emotions, like circumstances, are often uncontrollable. At least you’re not peeved merely because he exchanged pleasantries with the supermarket cashier.

4. Share your dreams with each other.

Recently, my husband and I were watching a segment about a group of down-to-earth people who came into big money. They ditched their humble, traditional way of life for lavish, contemporary living.

I felt compelled to ask, “Honey, what would you do if we came into money?”

He replied without hesitation, “Buy some Adidas underwear.”

5. Be intimate, but not too intimate.

I still won’t let Matthew see me brush my teeth. I’d lay him out flat on the other side of the door after slamming it in his face in a frantic effort to bar entry.

My attempts to execute this basic hygienic task involve toothpaste flying at the mirror, spraying my glasses, dribbling in frothy rivers down my chin, and getting up my nostrils. I’m transformed into a Frankenstein creature who points with sad eyes and inarticulate gurgling at the mess I’ve made of my shirt.

I dare not let my man view this horrific spectacle too often. Otherwise the divorce papers might say, “My wife was all foam and no dignity.”

Finally, what is the most important advice of all? It’s that love isn’t a feeling that comes and goes. It’s kindness, respect, mercy and goodwill delivered every single day, in snow or rain, heat or gloom — just like the postal service.

And make sure you crack each other up as often as you can.

— Hillary Ibarra

Hillary Ibarra has had several humor pieces published online, most at the incredible humorwriters.org. She is hoping to publish a book this year that she began when she was 17 and recently rediscovered with the help of her children. She is the mysterious blogger at No Pens, Pencils, Knives or Scissors. In her spare time she likes to threaten to sell her children to the zoo, and their little dog, too.

Reflections of Erma