Kirby: Laughing down the strange road of marriage

By Robert Kirby

Tribune Columnist

Published: July 8, 2014 09:20AM
Updated: July 8, 2014 01:01AM
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Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune Tribune columnist, Robert Kirby performs a wedding for Jerri Lynn Moore and Zachary Peter Hans at their home in Herriman on Monday, July 7, 2014.

Jerri Moore and Zach Hans got married Monday in Herriman. Even though I had never met them before, I was invited to the wedding.

As the magic moment approached, my main concern was that Jerri — who looked lovely, by the way — was hopefully a better judge of husbands than she was of marriage officiants. I married them.

Note: I don’t recall how Zach looked. That’s normal. If you’re a guy standing next to an attractive woman, you might as well be invisible or somewhere else.

Anyway, the wedding. I’ve done a few. I can’t perform one without looking back at my own defining moment in 1975, a split-second when my life took that strange new road.

Suddenly I was no longer my own boss. Finances and time had to be accounted for. I couldn’t just spend money and wander off snake hunting whenever I got in the mood. More important, no structural damage to wherever we were living was permitted.

Thirty-nine years later and still married. Wow. I should have a lot of wisdom to give newlyweds like Jerri and Zach. I don’t. Well, maybe just one thing.

With all the new rules, I should have felt oppressed but didn’t. I was in love and still am. Even better, my wife made me laugh. A lot. That was imperative.

Except when I accidentally shot the window out of her car, the time a live 9mm round went off in the vacuum, and another time I forget exactly what I did but she was REALLY mad, we laughed the entire first month of our marriage.

We loved Monty Python, Benny Hill, dog humor and scaring each other with practical jokes. We had thumb fights in church, stupid-look contests at night and water combat any time. And as long as no one got seriously hurt, we laughed when other people tripped and fell down.

Laughter got us through hated jobs, political differences, low pay, childbearing and near-terminal illness. Looking back, I think being able to laugh together is what saved us.

If you’re getting married, it’s pretty much a given that you’re in love or at least think you are. So love really isn’t an emotion that needs to be addressed when counseling the soon-to-be betrothed.

Neither are commitment, sacrifice, honor, forgiveness and fidelity. Those are automatic marriage-relationship fundamentals, and you don’t get extra credit for doing them well.

But a shared sense of humor is indispensable. No loving marriage works without one. If you don’t have that in common, it’s amazing how fast the person you love can become a major annoyance.

Zach and Jerri evidently have that shared sense starting out. They already make fun of their height difference. He’s tall and she’s … well, definitely not.

Laughter helps with minor differences, like not being able to share T-shirts and even big ones later when you discover your spouse crying because chemotherapy causes her hair to come out in handfuls.

Marriage isn’t always hard work, but it’s always something that has to be worked on for it to be worthwhile. Laughter lightens the load.

Forty years seems like a long time. It is looking forward, but not looking back. When that day inevitably comes for the new Mr. and Mrs. Hans, hopefully they’ll be able to look into each other’s eyes again and laugh.