Five Words Spoken Four Times

Roger Clark
August 2022

I was just now reminiscing about my time as a bachelor. You know, the days of burnt toast, dirt-caked clothes, and nothing but dust bunnies and bills in the mailbox. Oh yeah, the good times, right? Headaches caused by smudged glasses, burger bags stuffed under truck seats, and sleepless nights triggered by five cups of suppertime coffee. 

Wrinkled shirts, drying on the dashboard, road trips going way too long, and diet plans that looked more like preplanned funeral arrangements. The good old days, ya know, when a man was free to create his own fatigue, indigestion, poverty, and ten-dollar haircuts every six months. 

 FOR BETTER OR FOR WORSE means the shirts fit, pants are pressed, and my fly isn’t open in church. It means I can see clearly, thanks to Susan and Windex, while the coffee machine goes dark right after lunch. She doesn’t like it when I snore, cry, cuss, or sleep late, but forgives my indiscretions before they ever leave a mark. Every marriage has secrets, ya know, and for us they still are. It means I sleep well, near her every night, and wake up every morning glad I did. 

 I’ve often made decent money, with this often-indecent profession, heavily invested in slot machines, serial brides, internet raffles, and free-pie Wednesdays. The bank account hovered in the hundreds, for years, and my credit rating was in the single digits.

FOR RICHER OR FOR POORER is real as it gets in marriage. Finances are the number one cause of conflicts in relationships, but thanks to my partner there’s nothing to argue about. We started with nothing, and still have most of it left. Well, okay, we’re actually doing pretty well now. My wardrobe is handpicked from Nordstrom’s dumpster, we have credit at the local food bank, and her car is no longer a tow truck.

 Just months after our wedding, in the fall of 2015, I had a heart attack while trucking through Minnesota. My ambulance ride to the hospital was a couple of blocks. My wife had a million-mile drive from Kansas. Starting that day, WE…. have been on a heart healthy, low sodium diet.

IN SICKNESS, AND IN HEALTH means my wife still walks a mile every day, unless she’s mad at me. Then she makes me go along, and I like it, because she says I do. She doesn’t tell me to eat my vegetables, drink more water, or take my medicine, because she doesn’t have to. If I don’t, she’ll simply beat me to death.

 Speaking of death, like other cheery subjects, we vowed never to part, and I’m often amazed that she takes it for granted. Really. There’s zero doubt in her mind this is a lifelong commitment. Zero. There’s nothing I could do, no matter how illegal, immoral, or fattening, to shake her faith in the covenant of marriage. 

TILL DEATH DO US PART, for her, is not some abstract assurance in a wedding verse, but a real-life adventure that ended with hospice care. It’s something I can only appreciate, not verbalize. I’ll just tell you this. She’s been there, done that. 

Oh, there’s issues, alright. She won’t ride a motorcycle, get another dog, or wear capris out in public, but her commitment to marriage is good as it gets. My wife thinks speed limits are real, the WWE is fake, and broccoli is good, but she can recite whole pages of scripture, or tell ya to drop dead in sign language, without ever taking her eyes off the checkbook!