Dave Barry on Marriages that go Stale

Dave Barry is one of my favorite authors. He always makes me laugh...often out loud. On those rare occasions when I have time for some "fluff" reading, I will pick up something he has written. And while his strength is found in his humor writing, he will occasionally write something funny that makes you think about something serious.

A few weeks ago, Jenifer and I went on a 20th anniversary trip. It was the perfect time for some light reading. I grabbed "Dave Barry Turns 40" at a used book store, thinking that I might relate to something he says, since I passed that milestone just a few years ago.

In his chapter on sex, he describes what can happen to a married couple when they fail to keep the "spark" alive in their marriage. It's pretty funny.

Here's what he says...

Imagine, for example, a man and a woman who have been married for a dozen years.And imagine that the woman feels that their relationship has perhaps gone just a bit stale, as evidenced by the fact that since 1984 their most intimate moment together was the warm embrace they shared when they found out that their homeowners’ insurance covered the unexplained explosion in their septic tank.


So let’s say that one day the woman decides she is going to by God inject a spark of renewed passion into the marriage, so on her lunch hour she goes to the Frederick’s of Hollywood at the mall and purchases an explicit lingerie outfit so sheer that you cold read an appliance warranty through it in an unlit closet.And that night, after the children have been tucked into bed, she puts it on, and when her husband comes into the bedroom, all ready to indulge in his usual highly sensuous nighttime routine of watching the news while flossing his teeth, she is waiting for him, wearing nothing but her sexy new outfit and a sultry expression.

As he gazes upon her, standing there in her most provocative pose, he feels a sudden, unexpected stirring of excitement, stemming from the realization that she has charged this outfit on their Visa card.Yes, he can even see the charge slip lying on the dresser.Forty-seven dollars!My God!Here they are already very close to their credit limit, thanks to her incomprehensible (to him) decision to buy a brand-new clothes dryer despite the fact that he was perfectly capable of fixing the old one—he had told her this at least a hundred times—and now here she has spent forty-seven dollars on a garment that is approximately the size of a sandwich bag.This is what he is thinking as he gazes upon her, and she can tell immediately that he is not overwhelmed with lust because he is scratching himself absentmindedly in the groin region, a habit that just drives her crazy sometimes, especially when he has promised that he was going to do something useful, such as fix the damn clothes dryer, and instead he spends the day sprawled on the Barcalounger, watching some idiotic televised golf match and rooting around in his underwear with both hands as though he thought the Hope diamond was concealed down there.

But she is determined that they’re going to have a romantic interlude, and so, licking her lips lasciviously, she steps toward him; and he, finally realizing—sensitive human that he is—that this would not be the ideal moment to raise the topic of household finances, steps toward her; and they draw each other close; and as their lips meet, a new feeling comes over both of them, an urgent, insistent feeling; and it is of course the feeling of their seven-year-old daughter tugging on them to inform them that their five-year-old son is throwing up on the dog.

So we can see that it is not easy to maintain a high Romance Quotient in a relationship over long periods of time.Even Romeo, if he had spent enough time under the balcony gazing up worshipfully at Juliet, would eventually have noticed her protruding nostril hairs.

The question is, what can you do about this?By “this,” of course, I mean “protruding nostril hairs.”Tweezers are not the solution, take it from me.Another important question is: How can you keep your marriage from going stale?Fortunately, there are some effective techniques that I will discuss in detail just as soon as I think them up.While I’m doing that, it would be a good idea for you to take the following:


  1. What do you and your spouse have in common?
    1. We have essentially the same moral values, political views, and aesthetic judgments.
    2. We both like Chinese food.
    3. We are both protein-based life-forms.
  1. You are most likely to share your true feelings with your spouse when you are feeling:
    1. Love.
    2. Anger.
    3. Sodium pentathol.
  1. When you have a serious conversation with your spouse, the topic is most likely to be:
    1. Your relationship, and how you can make it better.
    2. Your children, and how you should rear them.
    3. Your remote control, and who gets to hold it.
  1. In the special, most secret, most private moments that you and your spouse share together, you call each other:
    1. “Darling.”
    2. “Lust Machine.”
    3. Long distance.
  1. When you and your spouse disagree, you generally try to resolve your differences via:
    1. Discussion.
    2. Argument.
    3. Assault rifle.
  1. Men: What did you buy your wife on her last birthday?
    1. Nice jewelry.
    2. A new coffeemaker.
    3. Bait.
  1. Women: What do you usually wear to bed?
    1. A silky negligee, makeup, and several strategic dabs of Calvin Klein’s “Night Moan” cologne.
    2. A cotton nightgown, a hair net, and a small yet distinctive chin smear of Crest “Tartar Control” toothpaste.
    3. A nightgown made of tent-grade flannel; a pair of official National Hockey League Wayne Gretzky Model knee socks; a sufficient number of hair curlers (in the ever-popular, highly seductive Bazooka Bubble Gum Pink) to meet the plastic needs of Western Europe for a decade; and of course “skin moisturizer” that has the same erotic appeal as industrial pump lubricant and has been applied to your face thickly enough to trap small woodland creatures.
  1. If you could change just one thing about your spouse, that thing would be his or her:
    1. Tendency to snore.
    2. Physical appearance.
    3. Identity.

Barrett here again. Pretty funny stuff, huh? I guess if you didn't laugh, it's because the story struck a little bit too close to home. If that's the case, then something needs to change in how you do marriage.

I had lunch with a friend this week who told me that he encounters men all the time who admit that they haven't been intimate with their wives for 6 months or longer. I absolutely cannot imagine how anybody can enjoy their married life when God's gift of intimacy isn't being enjoyed.

Christ claimed in John 10:10 that he came to give us "life abundant." That means a life that is rich, full, and satisfying. If you can't say that is true of your most significant human relationship, then you are missing out on a critical part of God's will for you. If the Bible is true (and I'm sure it is), then we can count on God to make your marriage better. But it starts with you taking responsibility for the past negligence in your marriage and then making a commitment to doing something about it. Your broken relationships will not jump start themselves. 

Ask God to give you a newfound desire to rebuild the broken places in your home; particularly in your marriage. Confess your sins to your spouse (yes, neglecting him or her is a sin), and then agree together that you will work towards oneness again. Finally, ask God to help you do what you cannot do on your own.