Re­al­ity show ex­tremes help hus­bands ap­pre­ci­ate wives

The Covington News - - Sunday Living -

I pointed to the tight-lipped, hu­mor­less, busi­ness-suited wo­man on the screen and said, “That’s who you’d get to live with if we ever signed up for ‘Wife Swap’.” I poked my hus­band Don­nie in the ribs and laughed dur­ing last Wed­nes­day night’s episode of one of my fa­vorite TV shows. I like to goad him, teas­ing that I’m go­ing to se­cretly sign us up on­line and he’ll just have to deal with what­ever psy­cho nut­case they send to take my place.

If you en­joy watch­ing peo­ple, you’d prob­a­bly en­joy “Wife Swap.” The pro­duc­ers choose two fam­i­lies that are po­lar op­po­sites, and send the wives to live two weeks in the other fam­ily’s house. Dur­ing the first week, the new wife has to con­form to the rules of the house. The sec­ond week, she gets to switch things up and make the fam­ily do things her way. I’ve seen athe­ists matched with the deeply re­li­gious, slobs paired with neat freaks, couch pota­toes made to in­ter­act with pro­fes­sional ath­letes. It’s quite en­ter­tain­ing television.

The first time Don­nie and I watched it to­gether, I made the mis­take of stat­ing, quite se­ri­ously, that they prob­a­bly couldn’t find any­one to pair us with be­cause I am not ex­treme enough to have an op­po­site out there.

He stared at me with an ex­pres­sion of dis­be­lief that clearly said, “Wo­man, you have no idea how crazy you truly are.” His re­ac­tion caused me to be­gin ex­am­in­ing the ways that I do, per­haps, ex­hibit a few lit­tle ex­tremes in my life. Maybe I’m not the neat­est per­son in the world. Maybe my tummy more closely re­sem­bles a Jell-O mold than a six-pack. Per­haps I should ex­er­cise more, cut out that monthly trip to Chick-fil-A, and find some bet­ter med­i­ca­tion to com­bat my PMS. I could re­sist the urge to go bal­lis­tic when some­one puts a roll of toi­let pa­per on the holder the wrong way. And for heaven’s sake, we home­school — a fact that causes some peo­ple to file us away in the “ma­jor freak” cat­e­gory, re­gard­less.

I’ve cre­ated two com­pos­ites of the kind of wife Don­nie would likely get. The first one would be a busi­ness­woman, maybe the CEO of her own cor­po­ra­tion. When she isn’t work­ing, she is work­ing out, main­tain­ing a rock- hard physique. She has a nanny to shuf­fle her kids to their private school, polo lessons, ten­nis matches and tu­tor­ing. Her house is spot­less and her sched­ule rigid. The en­tire fam­ily is ex­pected to con­form to her stan­dards, and her chil­dren are harshly rep­ri­manded for bring­ing home grades be­low an A.

An­other pos­si­ble op­po­site would be a rad­i­cal en­vi­ron­men­tal­ist, anti-mil­i­tary ve­gan who grows her own food and eats it raw. She bathes once a week, to con­serve wa­ter, and never shaves. She doesn’t clean her house, ever, be­cause of the poi­sons lurk­ing in clean­ing prod­ucts, and doesn’t kill in­sects be­cause of the dam­age it could do to her karma. Her kids at­tend the com­mune’s school, and would con­demn my use of pa­per prod­ucts and con­sump­tion of non-or­ganic food. I’d have to ride a bike ev­ery­where be­cause her fam­ily doesn’t own a car.

Yes, see­ing my am­ple rear end astride a bi­cy­cle would be en­ter­tain­ment enough.

I don’t mean to con­demn any­one who fits into any of the de­scrip­tions listed above. I’m just say­ing that I am not any of those things. I’m an at-home mom who dab­bles in free­lance writ­ing, nowhere near enough to con­trib­ute to our very mid­dle-class in­come. I hate gyms. My kids like be­ing home­schooled and do or­di­nary ac­tiv­i­ties, such as play­ing soc­cer and soft­ball.

I clean my house once a week, if that, with toxic, dis­pos­able sub­stances such as Clorox wipes and Swif­fers. I wouldn’t know a sched­ule if it knocked me in the head, and as long as my kids are do­ing their best, I don’t fret over grades.

I eat meat, and cook it well. I like to smell pretty and shav­ing hasn’t been op­tional since 1980. I think I might’ve bought some or­ganic carrots once last month. I be­lieve that some­times, Dori­tos and a Dr. Pep­per con­sti­tute a per­fectly good snack. And I would feel ab­so­lutely lost if I couldn’t drive ev­ery­where in my gas-guz­zler.

Even though Don­nie’s ini­tial re­ac­tion told me that I ex­hibit cer­tain ex­tremes, he al­ways tells me how glad he is that I’m not like the women on “Wife Swap.” And that’s good enough for me. I think that show helps him to ap­pre­ci­ate the good things in me, even when they might not be as ob­vi­ous as I like to think they are.

I mean, who wouldn’t want to be mar­ried to a lit­tle ray of sun­shine like me?

Kari Apted

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