How to keep a long-standing marriage strong
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Sep 12, 2013 | 888 views | 0 0 comments | 208 208 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ron Swift
Ron Swift
It’s unlikely that a couple can remain married for 50 years without a hiccup or two along the way.

Human nature being what it is, disagreements leading to arguments leading to downright nasty words being exchanged are not exactly rare in long-term unions. I’ve discussed this with friends my age and have yet to hear a tale of five-or-more decades of totally wedded bliss.

I’ve recanted this story before but do so again for the benefit of our younger readers. Say, those who have been married only 30 or 40 years. Believe me, if you haven’t already, you could any day now experience a bump in the road that could throw you out of the saddle or over the handlebars.

Quite a few years ago, after the normal strife of raising kids, running a business, and experiencing the usual shortfalls of life, HM (Housemate) one day blurted out the truth. One of my habits she could no longer tolerate.

It had to do with the brushing of my teeth. I left the water running. Wasteful! She didn’t like that.

I suppose I had been leaving the water running while my toothbrush was in my mouth since I was first taught to brush my teeth. I had never considered that I was wasting water, yet it was a tough habit to break, despite how hard I tried. I wasn’t immediately successful.

The situation cast a gloom over our marriage. I took to shutting the bathroom door while brushing, in essence shutting her off from witnessing this particular action of personal hygiene. Our relationship suffered.

And it wasn’t about to improve. While concentrating on the water problem, I realized there was a habit of hers that had long gotten under my skin.

HM squeezed the toothpaste tube near its top.

Now I had grown up squeezing from the very bottom, if for no other reason than to not waste the paste. In fact, in the Swift family we rolled up the tube as the toothpaste was squeezed out the other end. And during WWII, when I was just a young sprout, my father actually took a razor blade and slit the tube down the side to extract anything that remained.

Old-timers may remember that back in those days, toothpaste tubes were made of metal. After thoroughly using their contents, they became scrap metal and were turned in for use in the war effort. Thus brushing your teeth became patriotic.

But back to our marriage, which, if we are fortunate, will survive 51 years late this fall. A solution was required. We thought hard (and painfully) and finally hit upon a joint decision, not arrived at hastily. And it worked.

We built another bathroom – one for her, the other for me. Separate lavatories, separate toothpaste tubes.

No need to thank me. I know you’re appreciative.


There’s not many of us left.

I’m referring to those of us who not only do not use cell phones, but also have no tattoos adorning our exterior.

And I’m not likely to get either.


A while back the Russians were rioting in the streets of Moscow, in a demonstration against President Putin. What if their president had chosen to use nerve gas on his countrymen?

Would President Obama and Congress be weighing the decision to send a few rockets toward Moscow?

Let’s hope our government would have more sense. Unlike the Syrians, the Russians might fire back.


The America’s Cup yacht race has some goofy rules, one of which ought to be changed.

Those big 72-footers currently duking it out in the Bay are manned by 11 sailors each. The two catamarans represent the United States and New Zealand.

And yet, Oracle, the U.S. team, has only two Americans among its 11 crew members. Just TWO! The others are here either on a green card or a visa or just slipped across the border. Shouldn’t at least half the crew be natives?

Secondly, after the 49ers win Sunday over the Packers, Patterson’s Steve Reza may say something like, “We’ll take it!” Now comes the dreaded Seahawks.


Still more e-mails describing the poor job opportunities we are experiencing in our “down” economy. Listen to these tales of woe.

“I tried being a tailor but wasn’t suited because it was a sew-sew job.”

“Next I tried working in a muffler factory, but that was too exhausting.”

Believe me, I didn’t make these up.

Ron Swift is editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at

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