In our prenuptial agreement, my wife's list of marriage conditions is just over six pages long. I won't go into specifics, but it mentions everything from a ban on pet rattlesnakes to keeping a job.
My wife is not a picky or controlling woman. But she had heard the stories. She wasn't about to marry a guy who at least wouldn't try growing up enough to be a decent provider.
I only had one condition. It was a major deal breaker, though. We argued long and loud about its feasibility, but I refused to budge.
Here it is: "I die first."
Since it's almost impossible to find a woman foolish/patient enough to risk a relationship with someone like me, I wasn't about to get stuck looking for another one.
Thirty-four years later, I consider my prenup death clause a brilliant piece of negotiation. Despite a close call with cancer, she's still alive and making sure that I stay employed.
We're lucky. At this stage of life, many of our friends -- through death or divorce -- are single again and starting over. I see what they're going through. You couldn't make me do it at gunpoint.
One of my friends lost his wife to a heart attack two years ago. He's been on a number of dates since then, including blind ones set up by his mom, sisters, co-workers and even his LDS bishop.
"It's like being back in high school," he said. "Only now I weigh more, have less hair, and I actually watch the movies."
Another friend who divorced her husband says it's worse than high school. After attending several LDS singles dances, she won't go to another one without a Taser.
My wife says I'm being ridiculous. I've never hit her. I come home nearly every night. And I give her all my money. Plenty of women out there who would be happy to have a guy like that.
It sounds good up front. But then they'd get to know me better. Worse, they'd eventually talk to my mom or my kids.
To prove my point, I made trial searches on a couple of Internet matchmaking services. The first catered to Mormons, which I thought would make things easier. It didn't. Not only were there no matches, but I was immediately accused of lying or being demonically possessed.
The other service was larger and claimed to have a worldwide database. It wanted to know everything about me, including politics, religion, hobbies, sexual habits, medical history and my net worth.
Again, I was completely honest.
It took an hour. Of the millions of women looking for love on E-Smarmy, the only possible match was a 300-pound dominatrix in Arkansas. "Bullwhip Bunny" immediately sent an e-mail asking how romantic I found claustrophobia on a scale of 1-10.
My address must have been glommed onto by a several other services.
I'm hearing from Russian women, women in prison and women who actually charge for dates. I try to turn them down nicely, but they're persistent. I showed them to my wife.
"Keep it up," she said, "and you will die first."