Thursday, August 11, 2011

Marriage Super Glue

Hubby and I recently celebrated our 49th anniversary and are hoping all will remain well and we can celebrate our Golden Anniversary next June. In my grandparents’ time, a 50th anniversary was rare because of shorter life spans than today. Now, divorce, not death, is the reason many couples don’t make it to their fiftieth. Until recently, I never really could pinpoint why ours lasted and others I thought were made forever cracked. di

I’d be the biggest liar if I’ve said there have never been times that neither of us wanted to head for the hills. When our kids were little, when we kissed and made up, we teased and said we didn’t make enough money to support two households. By the time we were empty nesters, our justifications for living with each other’s imperfections were Hubby couldn’t do laundry or cook, and I couldn’t put gas in my car and hate taking down the trash.

We’ve both mellowed through the years as to things that will ignite a spat. One hot issue that’s still high on the list is the thermostat setting when we use the air-conditioner. Those of you who’ve gone to my website and read Thermostat Genie, a sample chapter from my book, know what I’m referring to. Hubby and I are totally incompatible when it comes to how cool we like the A/C. He is as thin as a rail and me—let us say I have a lot more insulation around my bones than he does, thus we have a 3-4 degree difference in our comfort zone.

My husband also insists the electric bill will go down if we move the thermostat up several degrees every time we leave home, even if we’re only going to be gone 10 minutes. I say the opposite. The other day, I had “had it” when I came home to a “sauna” —he ups the setting as soon as I leave—and called our power company. A lovely lady, who I told I owed a dinner when we finished our conversation, informed my spouse over our speaker phone, that unless you are gone at least 4 hours, it isn’t cost efficient. She explained that to do what he was doing—constantly changing the setting—could also ruin the calibration of the thermostat. The best thing she told Hubby was to leave the thermostat at 77— not his desired 79—and up it to 82 when we’ll be gone for long periods.

I then inquired about possible reasons our bill is usually higher than friends who have a bigger house than ours and keep their thermostat in the low seventies. Her answers were informative. We have his and hers computers and DVRs. The computers are in almost constant use as are the recorders. Our friends have one computer that is used perhaps one hour a day and, since they like the same television programs, only need one DVR. As much as we’re always looking for ways to save money, especially in today’s economy, we know this wouldn’t work for us.

The lovely lady on the phone did zero in on the biggest difference in our friends’ life style and ours that runs up an electric bill: the oven and stove. I don’t think they would notice if someone unplugged theirs. I cook. Not as much as I used to before moving to Seniorville or Hubby would like, but I still do cook. It isn’t unusual for people my age to fear outliving our money, and my spouse feels if we keep eating in restaurants as much as we do, we may run out of our money.

Dining out is a big part of our social life and the restaurants in my area have great deals to attract retirees. I maintain that the cost of eating out sometimes is less than if I bought all the ingredients and cooked the same meals. Last week we ate lunch out three times and dinner five, which is unusual for us. When the stock market started to roller coaster, I promised my spouse we would eat in this week. But that was before the phone call to Florida Power and Lighting and the phone call from friends who invited us to “run out” for a bite.
“The restaurant has a coupon which is too good to pass up.” I told my husband.

“Wasn’t this going to be our austerity week?” Hubby kind of growled while we were pulling out of our driveway.

I looked at him straight in the eye and said. “It is. I’m doing my part to cut the electric bill by not using the stove.”

He laughed. Humor is a great super glue for a marriage that has minor cracks.

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