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October 20, 2011 By Chuck AllenFighting back often means hunting down the monster. Most people assume that hunting begins with gathering the right equipment. Even in horror flicks the main character Read More »
October 17, 2011 By Chuck AllenWhy are all shows about marriage comedies? Whether it’s movies or television, if the main story is about marriage, comedy will abound. Sure, there are married Read More »
September 22, 2011 By Chuck AllenOne of the goals of this blog is to provide advice for men who are considering marriage. Women have strange rituals such as teas and showers Read More »
Tag Archives: Anniversary
Every married man will eventually be asked to tell how long they have been married. While the question seems very innocent, everyone knows that the question is a loaded weapon. Miss that question and you obviously are not a caring husband. Miss that question and you might as well crawl away to wherever it is that loser husbands congregate.
On the surface I will admit that it seems odd that men, who can often remember the exact number of runs scored by a player in any given year of the last decade, cannot remember the date of their wedding. But that phenomenon is a distraction to the real issue. As I’ve mentioned before, the answer to this question is not as simple as it appears to be. The answer to that question appears to be a strange calculation based on moon phases, the curvature of space and the wife’s biorhythm. The only certainty that I have been able to deduce in my years is that it will be something other than what the husband claims it to be.
So what is a husband to do? How should we handle this tricky no-win situation? Here are four tactics you can employ:
1. Anticipate the question before it happens – I have already posted advice on trying to avoid the question all together by being vague. This is a critical skill for every husband to learn. Sometimes, though, a more direct approach may be needed. Just as some teams succeed by keeping their offense on the field for long periods of time, you may need an offensive strategy if a situation seems imminent. How do you go offensive in this case? Simply ask first. If you feel the room shifting and the question being set up, simply make some comment about your relationship and then ask your wife if she remembers how long you’ve been married.
This tactic may require some practice in the mirror as the key is to sell the impression that you know the answer and think she does not. I must also urge caution with this tactic. If your wife is quick and knows that you are bluffing she may offer you a wrong date to let you prove your ignorance by agreeing to it. Its a plan, but its not fail-proof.
2. Plan ahead – For any future husbands that may be reading this, let me offer one of the best strategies for dealing with the situation: Pick a wedding date that is easy to remember or unique enough to start conversations.
Easy to remember dates are limited in number for many of us because very few women will agree to get married on Christmas or New Year’s Day. Getting married on Super Bowl Sunday will work against you and is not a fixed date anyway. Try for something a little more subtle. Pick the date that your favorite player reached 400 home runs or first ran for more than 1,000 yards in a single season. The downside to this is that your anniversary will fall during the sports season, but it will be easy to remember. If you were born in a month that does not conflict with your favorite sports season, you can marry on your birthday. That would be easy to remember, but may require you getting married in the middle of the week depending upon the year.
Unique dates can be helpful if you can arrange it. In my case my wife and I married on Leap Day. Usually as soon as I say “We only have an anniversary every four years” the conversation moves away from “how long” to the eccentricity of the date. Dates that qualify as eccentric are limited, though. Leap Day only comes around every four years, obviously, and I already mentioned that the major holidays are probably out of the question. Try minor holidays like Cinco de Mayo or St. Patrick’s Day. (NOTE: Those are minor in the US. You may need to modify that list to fit your country.)
3. Use humor – One of the best options may be the use of humor. One major caution here: practice this ahead of time!
Humor can be a great way deflect attention away from you and the question, but we need to realize that what we find as humorous is not always humorous to our wives. That is why I do not suggest you practice this tactic extemporaneously. You should carefully craft a few humorous responses and think them over before using them. You will likely need something better than “What? I’m married? So that’s what this ring is for?” to successfully avoid the question. Try responses such as “It couldn’t have been long since my wife is still so young” at your own risk. If it sounds like sarcasm you may be making matters worse.
4. Give only the year – If you didn’t plan ahead and are not comfortable with the risks of using humor, your best bet may be to offer only the year. The premise here is that it is easier to remember four numbers than eight. If you can somehow etch the four digit year into your brain you maybe able to stumble out of the question with a quick response: “We were married in ’91.” It can be surprising, though, how elusive those four digits can be. You may want to consider tattooing them on your wrist for quick reference.
So there you have it. That’s the best advice I can offer based on my experiences. What about you? Do you have some other suggestions for how to handle the “how long” question?
I loathe self proclaimed experts. People who claim to be experts are usually just as lost as the rest of us, but they have figured out a way to sell that to us. If you hear an expert introduced, count to ten and you will probably hear a sales pitch coming your way. I don’t even like self-help books for the same reason, although I will admit to being suckered into one every now and then.
With that said, I am no expert. This blog is not intended to be authoritative (unless you’re a publisher, if so, give me a call and I’ll give you my credentials.) The truth is I love to write and need the practice. I also love being married. Since my wife and I have been married for many years now, I thought it might be fun to pass along the few lessons I have learned to my fellow travelers on this journey of matrimony.
Hidden within the last paragraph is today’s topic – Anniversary Snares. (The fact that spell check just corrected my misspelling of “anniversary” should emphasize how deeply disturbing the topic can be to any husband.) Notice that I mentioned my wife and I have been married for “many years.” I’m not trying to hide anything there, I was being intentionally vague. Rule one is never give specifics about your anniversary unless you are backed into a corner. If the topic of your marriage comes up, have a few vague answers ready. If you can slide some flattery in it will increase the odds that you will not be cornered for specifics.
Here is an example: “Marriage to Kristy is so wonderful that years seem like mere days.” Take note to include your wife’s name in the statement if possible. While you can get by without remembering specifics of your anniversary, it is a requirement that you remember your wife’s name. You might as well make it known that you have met the minimum requirement. Also notice how the sentence deflects the conversation to “days” and not years. You want to make sure that your statement does not end with the word “years” as the next logical question will be “So, how many years has it been?” Phrases such as “time stands still” will help to signal your listener away from specifics about time or date.
It is important that you stick to this rule – even if you think you know the exact date of your marriage!
One thing newlywed husbands sometimes fail to notice is that there is no correct answer to the question “How long have you been married?” The reason for this is that women change the answer. Because men often think in a linear, problem-solving fashion, we tend to believe that the answer to the question should be easily calculated by some difference between the current date and the oft-forgotten date of our marriage. We are wrong. Women apparently track time along an emotional and creative time line which can cause the answer to fluctuate, creating a 99.9% chance that the answer will be something other than what you say it is.
So what do you do when you are finally cornered and asked for specifics? Even your best deflective vagueness will occasionally be challenged by one of your friends wives. I have never witnessed this, but I am certain that wives give each other high-fives when one of them corners a spouse with the “how long” question. I imagine they have a secret pact to do this as often as possible, but I digress. I actually have several strategies that you can employ for this situation, but I think they warrant their own post.
Do you have any deflective and vague sentence suggestions that husbands can use? Or perhaps a horror story of being cornered with the “how long” question?