If you’ve watched “Oprah” or “Dr. Phil,” you can stop reading right here, because you already know dozens of things you can do to spice up your marriage and make it a bit more exciting.

Did you know that 89 percent of the people recently polled thought that public wedding proposals were a bad idea? This is because as many as 75 percent of us have glossophobia: We read that statistically, far more of us claim that we would prefer death to giving a speech.

You might recall hearing me say that I was standing on a stage before 150 or so friends when, as an ostensible afterthought, halfway through my presentation I asked Marsha, The Almost Perfect Woman, if she would marry me. At the time she was slouched down in the back row, pretending that she didn’t know me.

Now we learn that 89 percent of the people polled think that these public wedding proposals are not necessarily a passport to happiness and definitely not the way to start a lifetime of unmitigated bliss.

This might be true in 89 percent of the cases involving a fuzzy-cheeked and probably half-stewed boy who kneels before a blushing virgin as he repeats the formula he has seen in televised Kay diamond ads.

But when a man of 54 proposes marriage to a widow of a certain age, isn’t it prudent to do it in public surrounded by friends?

You know that I advocate marriage for everyone. It is a wonderful experience that no one should miss. I have been unmarried for more than half my life and know of what I speak.

True, there is the initial matrimonial shock, which can be compared to falling out of a Monhegan lobster boat. I was snubbed up short when I found a solid brass 1905 Rockland dog tag in the trash. It was on the windowsill when I bought the house, so it naturally belonged there.

“How could you throw out this dog tag that has been on that windowsill for 90 years?” I asked.

“Well, what good is it?”

Her irrefutable logic made me love her even more.

If you have been married, you know that the first few years are exciting. Not a day goes by but what you learn something new about your partner that inevitably brings you closer together and strengthens your mutual admiration.

Then, as the years pass in your average happy marriage, there are no more surprises. One day is much like another, and you welcome the monotonous regularity of each other’s words and actions. The last words you exchange before you fall asleep at night are, “Thank you for a happy day. I can count on you.”

Some marriages, however, grow stronger on unannounced delightful realizations, perhaps evinced by a special love note or a homemade birthday card tucked beneath a pillow – or being able to find only one life jacket on a burning cruise ship.

Marsha and I fit into this latter category. Just when we think we pretty well know what the other one is thinking, we find we know no more about each other than Siegfried & Roy know about tigers.

Here’s a typical example.

We are vacationing in a tiny camper that is hooked to the electricity and water of a house owned by our friends.

Because the water pump runs when all of the faucets are turned off in the house and camper, I suspect that there is a leak in the water pipe between the well and the house. Until experts can locate the leak or explain the pump’s constant running, Marsha and I have turned it off.

Two or three times a day we turn it on just long enough to fill the dishpan, some water bottles and a water bucket in the bathroom so we can brush our teeth.

When I was a kid, there were still a couple of houses in town without running water, and in those homes there was a bucket of clear, pure well water by the sink. So we are no worse off than most everyone was in St. George, Maine, in 1915 – and more than a few in 1945.

The other night, after brushing my teeth, I dipped a glassful of water out of the bucket of water in the bathroom to rinse my mouth. I said, “This tastes like Clorox.” She said, “No, it’s Lestoil. I usually use that water to wash my feet. But this afternoon I used it to wash the floor.”

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


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