Middle Age Cranky’s Guide to Marital Compatibility

As Middle Age Cranky wraps up its weekly format over the next few weeks, I will be reprinting my favorite posts from over the last five years. This one on ensuring marital bliss was originally published September 19, 2011.

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the joy we experience when we see our friends’ children excel in college and life. After paying for college, of course, the next joy our friends will undoubtedly experience is the moment one of their children brings home someone so completely unsuitable for them that they wonder how long they can possibly hold a tight smile without having to go into the bathroom and scream.

Parents can certainly counsel their children about how difficult marriage can be even when the couple is compatible, and how miserable it can be when they’re not. It’s important that youngsters talk things out ahead of time.

The problem is, the topics that married couples are supposed to agree on are the same things you’re not supposed to talk about in polite company: sex, religion, politics, and money. So just when are they supposed to have this all-important conversation? I’m beginning to think the answer doesn’t matter. The topics of sex, religion, politics, and money are probably going to naturally come up during the dating process, which is the appropriate time for them. Because you don’t want your kids to end up like the woman who said she got divorced because of religion: “My husband thought he was god, and I didn’t.”

There’s also the topic of children – whether or not they want them, how many they want, who’s going to be the caregiver, and who’s going to get the blame at that inevitable point when they realize they can neither send them back nor leave them on a stranger’s doorstep.

Equally important is the subject of chores. Who’s going to do the housework, the cooking, the food shopping? I believe the person who does the cooking should do the food shopping; otherwise, you’re just asking for trouble. As for the housework, you can always tell if you’re compatible with a potential mate if you both agree that, even during a recession, the one thing you never cut back on is the housekeeper.

But there are other, equally important questions that two people should discuss to determine their marital compatibility over the long term. So, as a public service, here is Middle Age Cranky’s Guide to Marital Compatibility.

Recreational Vehicles

  1. The bigger the better!
  2. Under 30-feet is okay
  3. Maybe a van conversion
  4. If you buy one, I’ll kill you


  1. I have my own 12-gauge
  2. Go have a good time with your friends
  3. How can you kill Bambi?
  4. I’m not cleaning it, I’m not eating it, and I’m burning those clothes

Travel – The Airport

  1. You can cut to the front of the security line if your flight is close to departure
  2. Only worry-warts get there an hour ahead of time
  3. You never know what the traffic is going to be like
  4. I want to be there early enough to catch the previous flight

Travel – The Destination

  1. I’m on a first name basis with everyone at the Hotel Annapurna in Kathmandu
  2. There are lots of places in Europe I haven’t seen yet
  3. Stick me on a plane to an island once a year, and I’m happy
  4. I’ll go camping if there’s room service

Travel – Ground Transportation

  1. Rafting is great, and the more whitewater the better
  2. Greyhound is still in business?
  3. A week through the American Southwest in the car is fine, as long as the air conditioning works
  4. Seriously, if you buy an RV, I’ll kill you

Travel – Air Transportation

  1. Red-eyes, layovers, puddle jumpers – anything to save a buck
  2. I’ll take Southwest if it’s a short flight
  3. By all means, pay for extra legroom
  4. I don’t even want to know that there are economy seats on the plane

Bodily Functions – Part I

  1. Burps should tell a story, with timbre, duration, and range
  2. You can burp in the house as long as we don’t have guests
  3. That better have been a hiccup
  4. I’m pretending I don’t know you

Bodily Functions – Part II

  1. Farts in bed are okay as long as you excuse yourself
  2. Whatever you ate today, please don’t eat it again
  3. Farts in bed are grounds for banishment to the guest room
  4. Seriously, if you fart in bed, I’ll kill you

There is no scoring, but if two members of a couple do not choose adjacent answers, there could be trouble ahead. If they get married anyway, they really do deserve to fork over a whole bunch of money to lawyers.


About middleagecranky

The Middle-Age Cranky blog is written by baby boomer Howard Baldwin, who finds the world, while occasionally wondrous, increasingly aggravating.
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