My husband, I like to tell him, would be lost without me. After all, I am the one who knows where all missing things can be found: his keys (beneath the wool hat he tossed onto the kitchen counter), his cell phone (invariably underneath the driver’s seat in his car), the TV remote (probably in the crack between sofa cushions). I am also the one who regularly has to tell him the location of his head and does so quite often, moreso at certain times of the month than at others.
Recently when a newly single girlfriend of mine was over, VH passed through our living room right as she asked “Given how different the two of you are how have you managed to stay married?” It’s a question we both get a lot from people who haven’t spent much time around us as a couple, which she had not because her ex-husband was a bit of a control freak whereas mine is not. (That’s my job.)
As I explained to her, neither VH nor I believe in divorce. Taking out no medical life exam insurance policies behind each other’s backs, yes. But divorce? Most definitely not.
It dawned on me today, however, that if something were to happen to me (God forbid), my husband would be utterly clueless about how to keep our house running. If a pipe burst and began spewing water all over the kitchen, he wouldn’t know that which plumber e call is entirely dependent on the time of day (because one of them is notoriously drunk by 6 p.m. but is both perfectly sober and $45 cheaper than the other on weekdays) or the day of the week (the guy who’s drunk by 6 p.m. might be sober during the day on the weekends but charges three times his normal rate on weekends).
He wouldn’t know which doctor to call if the Big-Eyed Boy got sick since the last time he went to a doctor’s appointment was… um… well, he was there at the birth so I’ll give him credit for that at least.
Since my husband’s rather notorious for spending large sums of money without telling me, particularly if his computer’s involved, I’ve set up a few savings accounts at banks so I can stash emergency cash that he can’t touch. (This, incidentally, is why I also find second to die life insurance attractive since they ensure my children would actually stand to inherit something and are untouchable through life settlements.)
Oh, he knew about the bank accounts when I set them up — he signed the papers after all. But like everything else in our lives that involves finances, cooking, cleaning or social obligations, he dismissed the information as something that is My Job To Remember and promptly forgot all about them. Most times that works in my favor. I will, after all, soon have enough in one of those accounts to get my Wii and that Kindle I’m lusting after, too.
We are, in other words, precisely the kind of people whom professional organizers are thinking about when they suggest creating a notebook training the other spouse to run the household in the event of death, illness or disability.
My newly-single friend is in that very situation, completely at a loss as to how to handle the details of running the formerly marital home that she won in her divorce. She has no idea where her ex stored their financial papers, for instance. Since she was divorced in October, she won’t be filing a joint return for the first time in 5 years but has no idea which deductions are hers or how to prove them. (To be fair, she’s also enough of a scatterbrain that she’s not even sure where she’s placed her own copy of the divorce papers, which would probably tell her these things.) Had she and her husband prepared a notebook while they were married, she’d be much more prepared to start her single life now.
After my friend left, VH and I got to talking. How is it that we’ve managed to stay together, we both wondered, given that I’m a rather hot-tempered kind of woman and, being his third wife, our friends had all placed bets on our divorce before the minister had even finished pronouncing us man and wife.
We think, with the help of a few cocktails, we finally figured it out. We’ve stayed together because, if I wasn’t around to do everything for him, he’d have to handle stuff himself and he’d just screw it up somehow. The fact that we agreed on that explanation probably tells you what’s really kept us together for 10 years now: we have the same sense of humor and both of us are perfectly fine with how truly Venomous I am.