Welcome to the brotherhood of patient waiters
A young man I know is getting married.
In fact, by the time this piece sees print, he will have entered into the bonds of matrimony, a kind of bind I have personally known since before he was born. While he was learning to eat with utensils, tie his shoes and ride a bike, I was married and learning the elaborate codes, rituals and obligations that come with the status of a married man.
Before he even knew the word “toilet,” I was already well-trained in the protocol of the toilet seat—a protocol that changes instantly once a man enters into a committed relationship with a member of the gender whose toilet practices are different from his own.
For men, this means raising that toilet seat before the act of urination and then lowering that toilet seat once the act is complete. Though mothers attempt to instill this protocol in their sons, it’s a scientific fact that such maternal training almost never works (only 11 percent of newly married men regularly raised the toilet seat before urination, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, or JAMA).
Even among married adult males, the study found that toilet seat training was remarkably hard to learn, and failure to learn this important lesson was found to be one of the leading causes of early divorce.
But my young friend the groom has much to learn beyond this essential toilet-seat skill. Like most newly married men, he probably believes he tied his knot in order to secure a more dependable and more frequent source of carnal delight, a misapprehension shared by the overwhelming majority of young men who are engaged to be married. According to a wide range of surveys, 95 percent of young men about to be wed believe that frequency of sexual activity will increase with their redefinition as husbands, an expectation wildly at odds with reality and scientific fact.
What does increase after marriage—dramatically—is time spent waiting.
For reasons not yet known to science, women—still the most sought after marriage partners for men—require much more time to do simple things than men do.
For instance: leaving the house. Studies show that it takes the average male 7.2 seconds to prepare to leave his house.
Women, on the other hand, take an average of 72.7 minutes to get ready to leave their homes, no matter their destination or the purpose of the outing. And that average of 72.7 minutes does not include the return to the house for things they’ve forgotten. In fact, time and motion studies reveal that the average man can get ready to go to the store, go to the store, return from the store, go to the store again for something his wife forgot to tell him to get, and return again hundreds of times before the average married woman is even ready to leave.
Surely there are people who will find these observations to be sexist, but science cannot be denied. And evidence is conclusive on the relative waiting time spent by married men and married women.
Take, for instance, the time men spend waiting in department stores. Observe those pathetic wretches sitting uncomfortably outside changing rooms as their wives try on undergarments. Other women cast suspicious glances their way, assuming that they are perverts drawn to places where women’s undergarments are sold.
The resulting humiliation, along with the frustration of waiting, is linked to a disparity in life span between men and women. On average, women live almost seven years longer than men. Studies have revealed that every two minutes husbands spent waiting for their wives took a full minute off their life expectancy due to the stress and frustration accompanying those waiting times. Statistically, those moments spent waiting for their wives have proven deadly for American males.
Then there’s the editing. Once married, my young friend will take up residence with a full-time editor of his own. Never again will he tell a story or relay an anecdote without that story or anecdote being edited, while he tells it, by the woman he has wed. At dinner parties or at backyard barbecues, he will be interrupted and reminded of the more-accurate recollections of his spouse.
Even stories about things that happened to my young friend before he met his wife-to-be will be subjected to editorial overrides. “No, honey,” she’ll say, “that wasn’t when you lived on Maple Street. That was when you lived on Ritter Drive.”
One last word of warning for the groom: Always observe “the rule of three.” This rule never varies, and remaining mindful of the consequences of violating it will save my young friend—and all other newly married men—a great deal of pain and suffering.
Here’s how it works: Married men are expected to share details of their work day with their wives when they return home each night. Often there is little to tell, but the ritual must be performed.
If, in an innocent attempt to comply with the demands of this ritual, a married man mentions a new employee at work—a young female employee, for instance—said married man must bear in mind that this young woman’s name must not be uttered more than twice. If, for example, our young friend tells a little story about the new hire and her rather endearing habit of repeating a word or phrase, it is likely that the missus will find that initial story amusing, but it is almost certain that she will be less amused when that story is followed a short time later with another story about the lovely new employee’s charming little habit of mispronouncing a word.
All is not lost, however, unless the aforementioned young husband makes the error of telling a third story about the young woman in question, for that is a critical act of over-mentioning that will lead to more waiting time between bouts of the very relations that led to marriage in the first place.
As an old married man, I welcome the addition of my younger fellows into the brotherhood of patient waiters. Just remember: The older guy gets the chair.