When two people with thyroid deficiencies marry, their house soon falls down and their three dogs end up raising the kids. When two Type A workaholics marry, they cannot agree where the paintings should be hung, or which one should sell their vintage BMW, and they divorce before they are unpacked. People who are similar in temperament should not marry.

Opposites attract, and this makes for a good marriage. There are hot people and there are cold people, and because they are compatible, they deserve each other. If you come in from shoveling snow and put your ice-cold hands inside your wife’s shirt and rest your ice-cold hands on her sweaty back, you should both be able to sigh and say, “Ahh, that feels good.”

My neighbor, Jimmy the boatbuilder, says that his wife was the cold one. He’d come home to find the furnace cranked up to 75 and her hovering over a red-hot woodstove that was jumping right up and down. She’d look up from under a blanket and say, “I’m cold.”

Jimmy says the first thing a woman does when she goes to that other place is ask the man with the pitchfork to turn up the heat.

My wife, Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, and I are compatible in a manner that results in a happy marriage. I’m a wimp. She rips and tears. We’ve signed articles and look forward to shipping together next year and many more.  

Because humans have a built-in mechanism that ensures their survival, the young with their raging hormones don’t think about next year — or even tomorrow morning. To paraphrase Maine humorist Tim Sample, “They don’t only not know nothing. They don’t even suspect nothing.” 

A happy marriage and the perpetuation of the species is the difference between compatibility and toleration. And compatibility is the foundation on which all strong marriages are built — as anyone who has survived the seven-year itch will tell you.

Nowadays we are supposed to believe that love and marriage go together like a horse and carriage. But that is a fairly recent concept. Years ago, marriages were arranged by parents or by convenience. Two hundred years ago here in St. George, Maine, a man would often marry his own cousin.

Yes, the Rothschilds and European royalty also married their own cousins. But they did it to keep power and the money in the family. We did it because the only way out of town was by horseback or boat and there were no other convenient options that were legal. My old next-door neighbor Gramp Wiley used to say something that amounted to: “Keeping a marriage in the family is worth a barrel of flour.”

More than 250 years ago, the great Dr. Johnson said that only a weak man married for love, and that any man would be just as happy in a marriage arranged by the lord chancellor. Although Sam Johnson had a happy marriage and undoubtedly loved his much-older wife, one should remember that he would say most anything just to ensure he would be quoted in anthologies alongside Thomas Jefferson and Oscar Wilde.

We hear of those who marry for money, which is simply one more example of compatibility. One has money. The other wants it. A man who never married might believe that marriage is no more than a political unit designed to control inheritance. A divorced man might nod in agreement because she married him for his money and she got it.

Do you have neighbors who stand nose to nose as they scream at each other? If you are young, it might look like an ogre has married a witch. Older folks know better, because I have next-door neighbors who must think my wife is a witch — on those days I forget to wear my hearing aids. A marriage between a woman who whispers and a deaf man is doomed from the start.

If you marry in June, it might be September before you discover you are married to a person who turns the thermostat down just after you’ve turned it up. If you are a newlywed who noticed this happening last week, don’t worry. Your marriage is secure.

Hot or cold, in most homes the thermostat problem quickly resolves itself because realistic men soon learn that trotting about the house dressed for the weather is to their advantage.

May I remind you that I am a cold man who is married to a woman who, one morning in early fall, came down the stairs, walked over to the sink and, with her tongue hanging out, panted, “I’m hot. It’s too hot here. I’m dying from the heat.”

I pointed at the thermometer on the wall and said, “It is 57 degrees. It is not hot in here, but I just cranked up the heat to 65. The pipes haven’t had any heat in them since the last killing frost on June 4th. You smelled the dust on those heating pipes starting to warm up, which gives your brain the impression that your body is hot.”

What do we learn from this? There are probably people in Tibet who have been heating their homes with mental power for centuries, but I claim to be breaking new ground by suggesting that it would work here in Maine. I’m able to produce beads of sweat on my wife’s brow in an ice-cold room just by giving her a sniff of dust on a warm copper pipe.

There is no reason why the scent of burning alders, fir or even dust can’t be canned in abandoned fish factories and marketed at Maine fairs. Wouldn’t you consider heating your home with smells — just for the connubial and economical benefits? The only complaints would be from your oil dealer and a compatible spouse.

The humble Farmer can be seen on Community Television in and near Portland and visited at his website:



Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or to participate in the conversation. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.