Friday, July 12, 2013

The Real Test of a Marriage

Some people say that financial difficulties test a marriage. Others, talk about how babies (and the children and teens they grow into) can strain a marriage. Illness, death, work stress, those can pull at the bonds of matrimony and push even the most loving and devoted of couples into divorce court. But I now know the real test of a strong marriage. It has nothing to do with how much debt you do or don't have. Babies/kids/teens might test you, but they grow up and go away in 18 years. Your health, even the death of those close to you, or the constant stress that often comes with the job - those things are tough to weather as a couple, but still doable. No! The real test is living 27 days in the San Fernando Valley of Southern California in the middle of the summer with a broken air conditioner. After this long in the sweltering heat, I'm surprised we're still married. Hell, I'm shocked we haven't killed each other and used our carcasses to construct makeshift shelters as shade from the sun. David insists we sit in the dark (because you know how much heat light bulb puts out) in order to keep it cooler in the house. The shades are drawn but the windows are open. Which seems counter productive, and I'm sure it is. But I've stopped arguing with him over cooling strategies. That might break us. Our goal is to keep calm, keep cool and ride this out. The first few weeks were tough. We were mad, we were worried. There was a lot of barking around here and none of it came from the dog. There were four cranky humans (and a rescue dog wondering if maybe she had been better off in the streets) with tempers that were rising as quickly as the thermostat. But then something odd happened. We got used to it, realized it was hot and that all the arguing and grumpiness was because we were miserable and hot, and then we stopped arguing. It's still hot, but at least we're not bitching about it. My kids actually think this is a grand adventure! My idea of adventure is lounging by a pool with misters on and an open bar tab. But my girls, this living in a house that's hotter than hell and doesn't cool down even when it's nighttime...they think that's fun. Why? Because long after the age where they should be in their own beds at night, we have all taken refuge in the master bedroom, some on the bed, some camped out on the floor, with the only fan in the house blowing air directly on us all night long. We take cold showers. We eat cold meals. We savor ice cream. We chug ice water. Anything we can think of to bring the temps down. It’s like boot camp in hell…only with groceries to buy, laundry to do and dinner to cook. This no air conditioner thing has also done wonders for stimulating conversation. Who says married people have nothing to talk about anymore except their kids? We are constantly talking now. Trying to figure out whose pool we can invite ourselves over to has become a wonderful topic of conversation. Ditto, which malls, movie theaters, and restaurants have the coldest air conditioning. Last weekend, we even thought about taking a spur of the moment drive up the coast to Santa Barbara. Not because Santa Barbara is fabulous - which it is - but because it would have meant three hours round trip in the car - where the air conditioning is working. They say if you and your spouse can weather - pun intended - difficult situations, it makes you stronger for it. And I think we've come through this pretty well so far. I joked with David the other day that I was going to start up an affair with an air conditioning salesman. Without missing a beat he said, "Good, do you think he'll give us a discount on a portable unit until our system is fixed?" I don't know if we can get a discount, but at this rate, it might be worth a shot. Honestly, all I really want right now is not a cold glass of water, or imposing on friends to suck up their cool air and/or pool, or even a hunky, or not so hunky air conditioner salesman. I just want the darn electrician to agree with the darn access guy, to agree with the darn home warrantee company that something needs to happen to fix our air conditioning unit now. And when it's fixed, I have no doubt the record heat we're having will end. It always works that way.

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