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September 06, 1991 - Image 203

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1991-09-06

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

SINGLE LIFE

Asking
The Right
Questions

Early inquiries about
practical issues could head
off a marriage that might
soon turn into a diasaster.

ERICA MEYER RAUZIN

Special to The Jewish News

I

n these trying times, we
attempt to enter every
new experience with as
much preparation as possible.

We have become cautious
about jumping off the ends
of diving boards without
checking the water levels.
Kids take home ec to learn
how to cook, drivers' ed to
learn how to drive and sex
ed to learn how not to... well,
you get the idea.
However, it strikes me
that there is no apt prepara-
tion for the biggest decision
in most lifetimes: choosing a
spouse. The questions we
ask beforehand rarely turn
out to have covered the real-
ly relevant issues.
Generally, couples decide
to marry in the midst of ro-
mance, a befogging experi-
ence.
The most levelheaded,
most adult, couples proba-
bly do pause somewhere af-
ter love and before marriage
to consider common con-
cerns, habits, finances, reli-
gious attitudes and
thoughts on child raising,
but it rarely goes beyond
that, at least not with people
under 30 marrying for the
first time.

Erica Meyer Rauzin is a col-
umnist for The Miami Jewish
Tribune.

Grownups and repeaters
may be more wary. And, as
anyone married for any
length of time can tell you,
those things are just the
jumping off points.
Having never chosen a
wife, I can't offer much
guidance in that realm. But
I suppose the following con-
cerns have some gender neu-
trality, or at least a flip side
wife-choosers could consid-
er.
I should note, out of self-
preservation, that I offer
these points on husband-
choosing with the comfor-
ting sense that I lucked out.
If I'd known to give my fi-
ance this particular exam a
dozen years ago, he'd have
passed with flying colors. I
might not have made the
grade myself, but that's a
different matter.
Once major life traits are
considered on the road to
getting married, some minor
traits should be tallied up as
well. Just ask:
• Who's going to do the
chores? I don't mean, will he
help with the house and the
dishes and take out the
trash and the recycle bins.
That's serious. I mean will
he take over some area of
constant nuisance and keep
it?
For instance, will he begin
by coping with the cars, and
just do it forever: from in-
spection stickers to license
renewals to carburetors. My

relationship with my car ex-
tends to buying it, driving it
and putting gas in it. He
does the rest. (There is a
quid pro quo here, in that I
seem to be the permanent
chairwoman of food pro-
curement and preparation.
But it's worth it.)
• Do you share the same
internal clock? Will you be
forever early to his late, or
late to his early? Will you
rush for planes he believes
will wait at the gate? Are
you the first at the party? Is
he the last?
• Did his mom raise him
with the same manners your
mom raised you with? You'll

be amazed how often eti-
quette comes up. I phoned
an acquaintance last week
and her husband answered
the phone like this: "Yo?" If
I were her, I would have
wanted to know that he was
going to do that before I
married him. I might have
reconsidered.
• Do you share the same
spending habits? This is not
a financial management
question. Long-range in-
vestments are much easier
to agree upon than short-
range splurges. This is a
matter of setting a marital
tipping policy that doesn't
leave you forever sneaking
back to the table to hide an-
other dollar under the coffee
cup.
This is a question of being
able to buy six boxes of
cookies — just because the
Girl Scout is so appealing
and the chocolate mints
sound so wonderful and, af-
ter all, the cookies are ko-
sher — without having to

hold a summit meeting on
the budget first. This is a
question of occasionally
buying one small jar of cavi-
ar instead of three big jars of
peanut butter.
Prospective husband-
choosers also need to con-
sider that they are choosing
a future father, not only of a
cuddly infant, but of an ex-
asperating four-year-old, a
shy seven-year-old, and a pi-
rate of a nine-year-old. What
kind of father will he make?
Just ask:
• How does he feel about
sustained heavy lifting? Can
he heft a 40-pound second-
grader while a 35-pound
kindergartner is pulling on
his elbow and a baby is
gnawing on his knee?
• Is he quick? Can he get
two pails of dirty diapers
down the stairs and out to
the curb before the diaper
service man starts his truck
up again and disappears.
• Is he squeamish? When
the baby needs immediate
changing and the
preschooler is turning green
and bilious, which kid will he
take? And which one will he
leave with you? And who
will the third kid spill his
buttermilk upon shortly
thereafter?
• Is he dedicated to the
long run? It is one thing to
clean up after a puppy, hush
his midnight barking and
run him to the vet for dipp-
ing. It is another thing to be

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

203

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