His and Hers IX

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

What pet peeves of your spouse annoy you? In other words, what annoys your spouse that you wish they could just come to terms with?

Mrs. Happy’s response

Curt’s most annoying pet peeve may be the disdain he directs at people who say “hi” through a third party. For example, if I run into a friend while I’m out shopping, and the friend says, “Tell Curt I said hi,” I have to gently explain to them that I can’t tell him that without receiving a lecture on what an empty, pointless gesture that is. Then I have to ask for a more substantial message to pass on. Frankly, it’s embarrassing, and I wish he could just let it go and accept a “Hi” in the spirit it is intended. Curt doesn’t have many serious quirks, but the ones he has are, to put it lightly, real doozies.

Curt’s response

My wife’s most annoying pet peeve is Jenna Elfman. For those of you who don’t know, she is a primarily comedic actress who plays the role of Dharma on the TV series Dharma and Greg. I say she plays that role, but I’m not sure the series is still on the air. I may never know, because Mrs. Happy takes great pains not to acknowledge its existence unless she feels moved to voice her disgust over the presence of its leading lady. I will never be able to see the movie Looney Tunes: Back in Action despite my wife’s great affection for Bugs Bunny simply because Ms. Elfman’s name is listed in the credits. When I’m watching television and a commercial appears featuring the pet peeve in question, my wife will yell from another room, “I can’t stand that woman,” repeatedly until I change the channel. I have no strong feelings about “that woman’s” work one way or the other, but I can certainly think of more annoying actresses. Even so, I do not begrudge my beloved her irrational reaction to Jenna Elfman except when it inconveniences me, which fortunately is not that often.

This week’s question

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday. On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

What pet peeves of your spouse annoy you? In other words, what annoys your spouse that you wish they could just come to terms with?

See Angel’s comment in Tuesday’s post for an example. Her husband’s pet peeve about shoes in the living room might annoy her. It would certainly annoy me. Then again, my habit of rarely picking up after myself would probably annoy him, too.

Essential knowledge

Back in 1992, before I had even met the future Mrs. Happy, I had a job in
a door factory where I worked with a married man named Lee.
That was the year of the George Bush Sr./Bill Clinton presidential election.
That was the first presidential election I could have voted in. I didn’t cast
a vote that year, but the outcome made me vow never to miss a presidential
or congressional
election again. Anyway, as you probably know, Bill Clinton won. I was bummed
about that, Lee was bummed about that, and we complained to each other about
how our new president was going to ruin the country. One day soon after the
election, he said to me, "I’m talkin’ to the wife last night and she says we
finally got someone in the White House who’ll actually do some good. Couldn’t
believe it. Been married to that woman three years and never knew she was a
Democrat." They divorced within the year, though I don’t think it had anything
to do with politics.

spouse. Some things are difficult—especially things tied up in memories that
affect a person’s reactions in a seemingly illogical way. For instance, I can’t
stand to hear the song The Candy Man Can. Something about it strikes
me as being vaguely demonic, though I can’t pinpoint why. I assume that I must
have some repressed childhood memory of an unspeakable trauma that occurred
while that song was playing somewhere. I don’t know. The point is, though,
that my wife knows this about me, so she would never do something so insensitive
as to throw me a surprise party and blast that evil tune on a stereo while
30 people jump out and scare me. But I’m getting off track.

Some things are easy to know about your spouse, and downright essential. Knowing
them will enable you to make your spouse feel special, and not knowing them
could get you in a lot of trouble. Here’s a partial list of things you should

  • birthday
  • anniversary
    hint to husbands: The wedding anniversary is vital, but it’s good
    to be aware of as many others as possible. Your being able to acknowledge
    the anniversary of your first date, first kiss, first "I love you," day of
    proposal, etc., can make your wife feel pretty special.
  • clothing sizes (including shirt, blouse, underwear, lingerie, pants, dress,
    shoes, and ring)
  • political affiliation
  • favorite things:
    • color
    • animal
    • outdoor activity
    • indoor activity
    • vacation destination
    • movie
    • play/musical
    • book/author
    • song
    • musical group
    • restaurant
    • meal
    • dessert
    • candy
      hint to husbands:
      It’s best to be as specific as possible with candy. Knowing that her favorite
      candy is chocolate is good. Knowing that it’s Godiva chocolate is better.
      Knowing that it’s Godiva’s Raspberry Chocolate Première (a chocolate
      biscuit topped with chocolate raspberry creme and crowned with luscious
      dark chocolate) is best.

If you think you know these things, check with your spouse and make sure.
If you don’t know these things, ask. In a marriage, ignorance is farther from
bliss than you might imagine.


Marriage is a funny thing, both weird and ha-ha.

The other day, I was in the kitchen
washing dishes and listening to Caedmon’s Call on my iPod while my wife was
straightening the bedroom. Just about the time
I started working on the plates, the eternally precious Mrs. Happy walked
through the kitchen door with a purpose. She strode up to me, planted a kiss
on my cheek,
then turned around and left the way she came. I didn’t bother asking why
she did it. I knew that such a conversation would go something like this:

her: <kiss>
me: What was that for?
her: I just love you. That’s all.
(smiling) I love you, too.
cue Smurf music

Since I have to wash all our dishes by hand, and since drinking glasses are
by far the most annoying things to wash, we usually drink out of disposable
plastic cups. Since cups cost money, and since we mainly drink filtered water,
we try to use cups as much as we can before throwing them away. One day, Mrs.
Happy was sitting at the kitchen table producing some artwork. A couple of
cups were on the table. Thinking that I might take one, fill it with water,
then drink the water, I approached the table, picked up the nearest cup and

me: Is this cup okay to use?
her: Sure.
What are these yellow spots in it?
her: Oh, that’s paint.
me: (shocked)
You were going to let me drink out of a cup that you used for mixing paint?
her: (appallingly unconcerned) It’s only watercolor.

Friday night, we watched the DVD version of a movie called Sexy
(It had
nothing to do with non-human creatures, sexiness, or sex. I have no idea what
the title even means.) My dear wife can’t stay awake through a movie that begins
at 10:00 p.m. or later,
despite her protests to the contrary every fortnight or so. She drifted in
and out of consciousness throughout Sexy Beast, catching only glimpses
of it through bleary eyes and a half-awake mind. When we finally went to bed,
she told me:

her: I couldn’t make sense of that movie from what I
me: Yeah. It was pretty non-linear. It jumped from the present
to the past, then skipped some of the present to get to the future, then
flashed back to the part of the present that it skipped, and threw in some
surreal dream sequences here and there.
her: (fading fast) What was it about?
me: Well, it was an inverted heist movie. The first 80 percent
of the story focused on the old gang trying to convince the retired gang
member to come back for one last score. The next ten percent focused on the
actual score. And the last ten percent showed us what happened after the
score. It was sort of like Ocean’s Eleven meets Pulp
meets Donnie
(with half-open eyelids and slightly blurred speech) Oh! I actually
thought of Dokkie Darno.

I was unable to stifle a chortle at her cinematic spoonerism. When I started
laughing, she realized what she had said, then burst forth in an uncontrollable
guffaw. After a second or two, her laughter outlived any humor Dokkie Darno himself
would ever have expected to provide. Her laughing made me laugh, which made
her laugh more, which made me unable to stop, which she found hilarious, etc.
We were sore and exhausted by the time we actually fell asleep.

Yeah. Marriage is funny. Sometimes weird. Sometimes ha-ha. But very, very

Marriage links for the week

Doug at CoffeeSwirls celebrated his seventh
wedding anniversary
on Sunday.
Congratulations, Doug!

The Iowa legislature is looking to reduce the state’s divorce rate by as much
as five percent with new legislation
requiring premarital counseling
for couples
who apply for a quick wedding license. Under the recently passed bill, couples
who get counseling would receive their marriage license after a three-day waiting
period. Without it, couples must wait 20 days.

One researcher says that the underlying secret to a happy marriage is the
ratio 5:1
. Successful spouses share at least five positive interactions—such
as bestowing a smile, compliment or humorous quip—to counter every scornful
comment, condescending sneer or dramatic eye-rolling. I’ve heard others say 10:1.
I strive for 20:1 just to be safe.

Part of President Bush’s so-called War on Poverty is a provision
of $1.5 billion over five years for marriage education among the poor. One
responds to critics of
the measure.

Mildred and Sandoe Hanna have been married
70 years
. Says 90-year-old Mildred:
"It just goes by so fast, you don’t even notice."

Jennifer Lopez quote of the week: "The secret to a happy marriage is…
Oh, who am I kidding?"

His and Hers VIII

His and Hers is a question or discussion topic relating to marriage that I post every Tuesday or Wednesday (I didn’t get a chance to do it this week, though). On Friday, my wife and I each write our thoughts on the topic. I invite other bloggers to do the same with their spouses as an exercise in celebrating marriage. This week’s question is:

How do you like to spend your Friday evening after a long and hectic week?

Mrs. Happy’s response

Relax and watch some DVDs with my husband.

Curt’s response

Relax and watch some DVDs with my wife.

So that’s the word

A couple of years ago I bought a book called They Have a
Word for It
. It is subtitled A Lighthearted
Lexicon of Untranslatable Words & Phrases
. That pretty much sums up
the book. I was looking through it today and found a listing for the Yiddish
word kolleh. It is a noun that means "a beautiful bride." Apparently,
the word applies to all brides since all brides are beautiful to the groom, and
since wedding guests are meant to see the bride through the groom’s eyes. I once
a preacher say that out of the hundreds of weddings he had performed in his life,
he had seen a few grooms that needed work, but he had never once seen an ugly
bride. The joy of the day seems to cause every ounce of of a bride’s inner beauty
to the surface and transcend her appearance, however pleasing it might normally
be. Though I’m not even sure how to pronounce the word, I understand the idea.
After all, I married a kolleh.

I remember standing at the front of the chapel on my wedding day, watching
the bridesmaids walk down the aisle, each one beautiful in her own way. But
when my bride appeared, every attendee stood up and gaped in awe at her beauty.
I honestly believe that even if standing for the bride weren’t a cultural custom,
everyone would have stood anyway. I have said before that Mrs. Happy grows
more beautiful every day, and it’s still true. The more I know her, the more
I love her, and the more beautiful she becomes. I may be the only one who notices
that, but on our wedding day she exuded a beauty that everyone could
see. It transcended her physical features and elevated her grace, charm, loveliness,
and force of personality to a level I wasn’t sure I could survive. I did survive,
though her kollehness so overwhelmed me that I cried through the entire
ceremony. According to my book here, the Talmud states as a matter of
doctrine that "Every bride is beautiful and graceful." As a Christian, I disagree
with Jewish theology on many points. But this is one I would never argue.

And for the
record, the fifth sentence on page 23 of They Have a Word for It is "Don’t be
surprised if future cultural historians find more significance in certain
editions of Mad magazine than the events behind a political campaign."

Indigenous flora

Jeff made me a little homesick for Texas when he posted a photo
of bluebonnets
(the Texas state flower) on the Peachwater site. Wildflowers don’t last very
more stunning than any fireworks display
I’ve ever seen.
Mrs. Happy and I took a nice walk earlier today, and she took some pictures of
the flowers here. In Texas, the flowers grow in fields and by the highways. In
New York, they grow on trees.

Click on the photos to see larger images.

Tired post

Two things:

1) I can’t think of anything to write today. This happens sometimes—mostly when I’m tired, and I’m sooo tired right now.

2) Doug posted a picture of his super-hero self at CoffeeSwirls in response to to picture I posted here on Saturday. Today, he followed a meme that has been making the rounds, so I’ll do it too. These are the rules:

  1. Grab the nearest book.
  2. Open the book to page 23.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the text of the sentence in your blog along with these instructions.

This appeals to me because my wedding took place on the 23d day of the fifth month. It’s probably a coincidence, but maybe not. Anyway, the nearest book to me at this moment is The Thurber Carnival by James Thurber. Sentence No. 5 on page 23 is this: “On the occasion of the hundred-and-fiftieth anniversary of Washington’s crossing the Delaware, however, I was sent over to Trenton to report the daylong celebration.” Not very exciting. In a variation on this theme, I find that the 23d sentence on page 5 is a little more rewarding: “I hunted for my Chiclets but couldn’t find them.”

This is infectious. The next nearest book to me is Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis. Here’s sentence 5 on page 23: “One day my brother decided it would be a good thing to make a tent.” And from the 23d sentence of page 5: “His <drawings> were of ships and trains and battles; mine, when not imitated from his, were of what we both called dressed animals—the anthropomorphized beasts of nursery literature.”

I feel like I need to tie this in better to my overall theme of marriage. The nearest book about marriage is called One Good Year. OGY 23:3–5 (sentence 5 makes no sense out of context) is “Once a day for a year catch your LifeMate doing something that you value, admire, love, or respect. Write down in a journal how much that means to you. At the end of the year give it to your LifeMate as a gift.” OGY 5:23 is “I find it hard to forgive my LifeMate for not living up to my expectations.”

Marriage links for the week

When my wife and I were planning our wedding, we had to work with a pretty
limited budget. When she told me that the flowers were going to cost upwards
around $1,000, I sighed and said, “We don’t really need flowers, do we?” I
can’t remember anything else that happened that day. Jim at Snooze Button Dreams
has a similar
. (hat tip: Adrian Warnock)

Dr. Warnock called attention to the Jollyblogger blog this week. There, David
Wayne (a Presbyterian pastor in Maryland) is doing a good job discussing Christian
topics in an accessible way. His recent post Marriage
and the Myth of True Love
is excellent reading.

Toni has an intriguing post about ecclesiastical
for women and how
it relates to issues of submission.

Blake’s daughter has a message
for everyone
over at Statedog.

A story in the Washington Post talks about sociologist
Ann Swidler
‘s view
of marriage. A few good quotes:

  • "A good marriage is when you become better when you’re with the other
    person, not because they do good things for you but because you truly rejoice
    in the other person’s flourishing."
  • "The ideal of
    marriage is ever more the one place in a society, like ours, where you can
    fulfill the highest virtues of which we are capable: sacrifice,
    understanding, commitment."
  • "It would be the kind of social
    institution that not only is good, in a practical sense, for people—stabilize
    their lives, help them be productive,
    help them be law-abiding citizens, help them raise children—but would
    develop the moral qualities, and even the personal qualities, we value most
    in human


A while back I posted a
picture of me as a
South Park character
. Earlier this week my geek friend Nick alerted me to
the existence of a site where you can create
your own superhero
. Here’s what
I would look like if
I had superpowers:

Before any of my friends chime in with how this doesn’t look
anything like me, let me just confess that I don’t have wings, my muscles
are not quite that defined, my feet are much smaller than that, and my trench
coat is actually green. On the other hand, I am thin, I have short brown hair
and an angular
jaw, I wear glasses, and I often smirk with the left corner
my mouth.