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Beginners’ Marriage

By Mordechai Schmutter

Is it just me, or did you also notice that a lot of people seem to get married around Lag B’Omer? There are so many days of the year that you’re allowed to get married. Why wait until the month when you’re basically not allowed to get married except for one day, which is also the one day you’re allowed to cut your hair?

But everyone is getting married, and everyone is spending a week at sheva berachos. Well, the chassan and kallah are anyway. Want to know something that no one tells the chassan and kallah beforehand? Sheva berachos are not really fun. (This column, by the way, does not reflect the opinion of this newspaper. At least I assume it doesn’t. I’m afraid to ask.) First you walk in, and everyone says, “You’re late.”

You’re always late. You’re two people who have just started living together, and you haven’t really ironed out the kinks of working around each other, and you have to somehow get out every single night for the entire first week to go to a simcha, and, by the way, we’re not starting until you get there.

And then you have to sit at the head table with your parents next to you and no one across from you, so you can see everyone else in the room schmoozing and having a good time. Sure, people do come up to you, but it’s mainly to borrow things off your table, because you only have half the number of people.

“Oh, can we have your pickles?”

And then you have to sit there in silence and listen to speeches. Is there a minhag to have seven speeches at every sheva berachos? There seems to be. And everyone wrote their entire speech thinking that they were the only person who was asked to speak. I say that a sheva berachos should have at least one course for every speech. I’ve made sheva berachos for people, and my rule has always been: Never have more speeches than courses. Even if I have to break things up so that the chicken is one course, the potatoes are another, and the green beans are a third.

And then a lot of the speakers have to give shalom bayis advice.

“Communicate,” they say, going on for 20 minutes. “Talk talk talk. Let me demonstrate.” But the chassan and kallah can’t talk during the speech, and they’re just sitting there, slowly polishing off an entire tray of pickles. Especially since they haven’t bought food for their apartment yet, and they’re starving.

And even between the speeches, the chassan and kallah are pretty quiet. Firstly, they’re tired. I spent my entire sheva berachos driving from sheva berachos to sheva berachos, and when I wasn’t, I was moving furniture into an apartment from at least four other houses, apartments, and dorm rooms.

And on top of being tired, they’re also thinking: “What did I get into here? This marriage thing is harder than I thought. And why is she always tired?”

So here are some answers to the questions you’re silently pondering, but bear in mind that as marriage goes on, your questions will only get bigger. But my hope is that you’ll realize, “Good. It’s not just my spouse who’s like this.”

Men: Why do women have so many shoes? If you’re a guy, then before you got married, you probably assumed that your wife had like one pair of shoes. Or no pairs of shoes. Honestly, you never really thought about her shoes. You probably couldn’t even say for sure if she wears shoes. But now that you’ve merged all those houses and dorm rooms, you realize that about 80% of your bedroom is shoes. The rest is bed skirts.

But why do women need so many shoes? The answer, as far as I can tell, is that the shoes are not comfortable. But every pair is uncomfortable in a different way. So they wear a pair of shoes that pinches their feet, and then the next time they go out, they wear a pair that pinches a different part of their feet.

(You don’t believe me that women’s shoes are uncomfortable? Try on your wife’s shoes. Trust me: everyone in the room will be uncomfortable.)

And anyway, before you complain about how many shoes your wife has, you should realize that it comes to your advantage. Kids walk around in their mommy’s shoes because Mommy has a lot of them. They don’t walk around in their totty’s shoes, because he has one pair, and he’s wearing them.

Women: Why don’t men listen? If you’re a woman, you might be wondering why sometimes your husband will nod along and pretend to listen, but then when you come back to the topic later, he’ll ask a question that shows that he clearly wasn’t listening to the original story. But you’re lucky. A lot of guys will pretend to listen to the second thing too, because they know that if they try to understand it, they’ll inevitably ask a question that shows that they weren’t listening to the first thing.

So if there’s ever one conversation during which we were preoccupied and missed something you said (and the chances of this happening get higher the longer we’ve been married), there’s a pretty good chance that we’re going to be afraid to get involved in anything else you tell us, ever. And even if we try, we’re only half listening. The other half is trying desperately to remember if there’s anything you’re saying that ties into something you’ve said before, so we don’t ask any dumb questions. And because we’re thinking about that, we’re missing more things.

Not only that, but deep down, most men believe that everything our wife tells us, she adds to the end that she already told us. That way if she forgets to tell us something, she can just blame us for not listening. I’m pretty sure my wife’s first words to me were “I already told you.”

Men: Why does it take women so long to leave the house? (Yes, we know why you came late.) A lot of women take forever to get ready to leave, but it’s not because they’re wasting time. It’s because they don’t wear their outside shoes around the house. They wear their inside shoes and their inside head covering, etc. So it takes a while to get out. A lot of husbands have figured this out and try to account for it, but a lot of women still aren’t aware of this, and won’t start getting ready until their husband does. And it doesn’t take him long, because he’s already wearing shoes. So he generally has to start getting ready, which involves getting up off the couch, and then she’ll start. But the thing is, getting up off the couch is usually all he needs. She leaves the room, and then he sits back down. Or he continues doing whatever he was doing before, but standing hunched over the desk.

Women: Why won’t guys ask for directions? (Yes, we know the other reason you’re late.) You’d think this question is no longer relevant, since people have GPS. But a GPS doesn’t always know what it’s talking about either. Sometimes, instead of saying, “Turn here,” it says, “You should have turned back there. Sorry. I was thinking about something else.”

Why won’t men ask for directions? Every woman has that question, but they don’t stop to think that if we don’t listen to you, what makes you think we’re gonna listen to some stranger at the side of the road? What does he know? He doesn’t even have a car!

I tried asking directions once, and I lost the guy after that first step. I’ve never seen the streets he’s talking about, so it’s all abstract concepts to me. You think I can find a new guy at every step? And I’m not writing down what he says, because every time I try to write something down while I’m sitting in my car, I accidentally honk the horn. And the people giving directions hate that.

What did we have in common, again? I don’t remember anymore. You get married because you have things in common, but then you move in together and realize how many things you actually don’t have in common. And the things you used to have in common don’t really matter anymore. “Oh, look, we liked the same type of music.”

It’s not important where you’re coming from. It’s important where you’re going. Except that you’ll get there late, because one of you can’t get out of the house and the other won’t ask for directions. v

Mordechai Schmutter is a weekly humor columnist for Hamodia and is the author of four books, published by Israel Book Shop. He also does freelance writing for hire. You can send any questions, comments, or ideas to

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Posted by on May 15, 2014. Filed under In This Week's Edition. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.