Marriage For Dummies by Andrew Kuhn

Remember that we are all dummies here,
and must never label each other as such.

Say “I” a lot. As in,
“I like how you look in those pants.”
Or, “I admire your persistence in trying to master that ukulele passage.”

Not, “I wish you would at least pretend to listen when I’m talking.”
Or, “I want to kill you when you clear your throat.”

You might think that sarcasm
is the spice of conversation.

Your spouse might instead call it
the acid reflux of conversation.

Even as spice, a little goes a long way,
and likely too far.

Learn to be quiet with one another
without thinking about bleak modern theatre
(Beckett, Albee).

In marriage as in theatre, though,
the suspension of disbelief is a key element.
If necessary, attend local amateur productions,
for practice.

Spend together just the right amount of time.
Of course, that will vary, and neither you nor your spouse
will be confident you know what the right amount is,
or agree on that for long.

If you must fight—and you must fight—
fight efficiently, and try to fight fair.

Do not in heated moments, for example, declare
that your spouse is exactly like a parent of his or hers

in having some trait that you have previously agreed
can be utterly unbearable, even if—
especially if—you both know it’s true.

Recall that marriage is not a mixed martial art
except in its final throes.
No pun intended!

About sex: yes, with each other.

Children and money pose problems,
but beware what happens when they go away.

Everything in moderation, but especially

From time to time, but not on a schedule,
look at your spouse and let yourself feel
the weirdness

that among the world’s billions you chose
each other
have kept each other
not because it was fated
or because it was time
or the friends in common, many long gone
or because she thought you were funny
or because of the smells and textures and tastes
of your respective selves then

but because together and apart
you would knit and ravel
the sleeves and rents
in this loose and constraining
gossamer garment

against all weathers
still holding your warmth
still not undone

about the author:

In the course of becoming a poet and psychologist, Andrew Kuhn has sold firewood, rebuilt apartments, done aid work, and worked as a journalist. His poems have appeared in Able Muse ReviewChimaera, The Mailer Review, and other venues; new work is forthcoming in Common Ground Review and The Heron’s Nest. Kuhn also conducts interviews with distinguished poets in support of the Katonah Poetry Series, an organization that has brought live poetry readings to Katonah, NY for almost fifty years. Kuhn is a graduate of Yale University, and the City University of New York, where he received his PhD in clinical psychology.