Garbanzo for many years has jokingly said that the wedding anniversary signifies the annual review of the marriage where both partners can negotiate an out of the marriage contract, additional terms, or chose to continue. His rationale is that it is a natural breaking point. Why go into a new year of marriage if things aren’t working out.
This joke was made until on October 7th, 2003 I presented him with the annual renew of our agreement. In writing. While we were out for our anniversary awaiting dessert. You see, Garbanzo doesn’t ever see contracts outside of the mortgage or loans. I, on the other hand, see many contracts. After the jokes were starting to be made, I had just gotten done reviewing on the contracts when inspiration hit. I was going to present him with one. See what he does.
Today, I found a copy of the contract. I thought it had been lost. Here it is (with my comments in italics while Garbanzo’s will be in bold):
Annual Renewal Agreement – October 7, 2003
The purpose of this document is to renew the agreements made one year ago today and to renegotiate the terms of the agreement.
The terms and conditions of this agreement will be one year in length, and are subject to an auto-renew clause if the “husband” does not give notice to the “wife” sixty days prior to the anniversary date. If notice is given, the terms and conditions will be renegotiated as outlined in the Renegotiation section of this agreement.
Emmy: I found out later that Garbanzo had no idea what auto-renewal meant. Needless to say the contract is still in place from this time.
Garbonzo: Yeah. I’m not the smartest bean in the can.
Emmy: But you are the cutest.
Section 1: Meetings and Events
Emmy: Getting out and away from the kids was an issue at this point. We had a 10 month old and a 3-year old and no family in the area. Also, many little spats would be had over whether or not “going to the store without children” was considered “time for yourself”. As you can see, I clarified it.
The “husband” agrees to a minimum of one meeting and/or event per month without the accompaniment of the “children”. These meetings/events cannot include trips to the comic book shops and/or convention and must include a meal.
The “husband” also agrees to 2 meetings and/or events per month without the accompaniment of “husband” and “children”. The “wife” in turn agrees to 2 meetings and/or events per month without the accompaniment of the “wife” and “children”. Additional meetings may be included as negotiated by all parties.
Solo meetings and/or events do not include solo trips to the store or any other errands. Trips to the comic book shops and/or conventions do count, however.
Garbonzo: We were both struggling for adult time. I was envious of her 30 minute commute alone in her car. Not to mention the fact that we had not had a night out together, alone, in over two years.
Section 2: Physical and Emotional
The “husband” agrees to honor and respect the boundaries set by the “wife” with regards to physical contact. In return, “wife” agrees to one time per week of physical relations. Additional relations can be negotiated by both parties. Kissing, hand-holding, hugging, and cuddling are all forms of contact not regulated by this contract.
Emmy: Got to explain this part. I was nursing a 10 month old yet. Between her wanting my boobs, the other one wanting to be glued to mom’s leg. Having a husband vying for the same things was about the cause my head to explode. This was my boundary. Reality is we have sex a lot more than one time a week!
Garbonzo: Now we do. At the time it was a pretty dry spell.
Emmy: Pretty dry spell?? It wasn’t that bad. Sure we went from having sex several times a day 7-days a week down to a few times a week if we were lucky. But, by most standards, that’s considered “normal”.
The “husband” agrees to provide “wife” with emotional support and “wife” will provide “husband” with emotional support. Emotion support includes “unconditional love” and “unconditional support without judgment”. “Wife” agrees not to use crying, yelling, or throwing items to emphasize points in argument, etc.
Emmy: I’m a yeller and a thrower when I’m mad. Not so much a cryer, just thought I would throw onto the list. Garbanzo doesn’t like it. This was my way of saying I’ll try to stop it. I don’t throw things anymore….but I’m genetically programmed to get louder the more angry I am.
“Husband” agrees to continue to take medicine and attend counseling until deemed “cured” by “head shrinker”. A certificate of “cured-ness” will need to be provided to deactive this clause of the contract.
Emmy: Garbanzo’s “head shrinker” (his term for her) actually loved this part of the contract. In fact, when she released him from her care, she wrote me a letter explaining she thought he had the skills to deal with his stress but he needed to continue to take his medicine, so to keep this part of the contract in effect.
Garbonzo: Do you have any idea how hard it is to get a counselor who you are paying $75 per session to write you a note saying you are “cured” and no longer need to see her and pay her that money????
Section 3: The Children
The “husband” and “wife” agree to spend quality time with the “children”. Quality time is defined as interactive playing, reading, coloring, cuddling, etc. Quality time is not playing on the computer as the children play nearby. The “husband” and “wife” agree to share parenting responsibilities including discipline and dirty diapers and picking up toys. The “husband” and “wife” agree to love the “children” unconditionally and to have patience and a sense of humor when dealing with them.
Emmy: Any woman with a husband and a computer can pick out the most important part sentence in this paragraph and the situation I was hoping to avoid further discussions on in the future. Hint: It’s not the part about the dirty diapers.
Garbonzo: We are pretty good about this. We both need to be better about puttng down the computers and playing with the children.
Emmy: They spoil us now. They would rather we leave them to their own devices. I mean, play with your parents or listen to your iPod…..they always choose the iPod these days.
Section 4: The Pets
The “husband” agrees to learn more about the “dog” and support the “dog” during his growth and development. The “wife” agrees to take “pets” to the vet and hold them as the “pets” are examined including rectal temperature. The “husband” agrees to respect Katchoo’s intelligence level, and the “wife” agrees to be more tolerant of Garbanzo (the cat). The fish are the “wife’s” problem.
Emmy: I made Garbanzo (my husband not his cat) take the dog through obedience school because of this clause. I was getting sick of hearing “that fucking dog!” He was only a year old by this point – and a 1 year old yellow lab is like a toddler – into everything.
Section 5: Visitors and Gatherings
The “husband” agrees to give the “wife” at least 2 weeks notice prior to scheduling a gathering of more than 2 people. If within 2 week timeframe, negotiations can be made for a gathering – but must be made – the “wife” cannot be surprised unless it is the intent to be a surprise party for the “wife”. Over use of the “surprise party” definition could lead to a reduction of physical relations as outlined in Section 2.
Garbonzo: Yeah. Ask Emmy to tell you the pasta story sometime. It is a doozy!
Emmy: The short version was I got a call at work during the summer letting me know we were having friends over. I asked what he was making, and he said “pasta”. I thought, great – something easy. No, my loving husband was actually making pasta from scratch. I drank wine in the living room. We ate at almost 8pm.
The “husband” agrees to “keep it simple, stupid” (KISS) when hosting gatherings. Any ideas that are questionable are subject to final approval from the “wife” who has the ability to veto said idea.
Emmy: Project and time management is not my husband’s strong suit. Many of his ideas are great – if you had about 6x the time in which you have to do it.
Garbonzo: See the pasta story above.
If the gathering is to be hosted, the “husband” agrees not to wait until the last minute to clean and prepare for the gathering. If ample time is given, the “wife” agrees to help without giving dirty looks and/or yelling.
Emmy: This one was a HUGE issue between us. Garbanzo loves entertaining. He loves to cook. He does not like to plan. It was during this time when I came into the house, would find people he had invited over for dinner but neglected to tell me, and get thrown into full-on entertainment mode. This was probably the #1 reason I would get mad during this time.
Garbonzo: I definitely needed to work on this one!
Section 6: Household and Yard Responsibilities
The “wife” is responsible for the plants, flowers, and vegetables planted in the yard. This includes watering, weeding, planning and removing. The “husband” is responsible for keeping the yard a clean, poop-free environment for the “children”. Other yard responsibilities will be shared by the “husband” and the “wife”.
Garbonzo: I am still working on getting the dogs to pick up after themselves.
The “household” responsibilities will be shared equally by all members of the house including the “children”. No one person is responsible for the coordination effort.
Emmy: This was more of an agreement that he would not send DJ outside to play in the backyard without picking up the dog shit first. I love yard work (yes, I’m weird that way), so really this was the only thing. Inside, it was usually the expectation for me to coordinate any cleaning or pickup effort.
Section 7: Health and Safety
Both “husband” and “wife” agree to stay healthy and visit doctors at least yearly to ensure health. Both “husband” and “wife” agree to do whatever necessary to achieve good help including eating right and exercise. Both “husband” and “wife” agree to support efforts to achive and maintain healthy living.
Garbonzo: This was a really difficult one. How could we find time to exercise and be healthy if we could not even find time for a date? Luckily it has gotten much better!!!
“Husband” agrees to take all necessary precautions to avoid accidents. Accidents to avoid include, but are not limited to, burns, falls, cutting himself with sharp items, using powers items inappropriately, etc. “Wife” agrees not to laugh too hard when accidents happen – or at least not in front of the “husband”.
Emmy: Garbanzo doesn’t take steps in preventing accidents. We used to keep burn cream by the stove for him. And, then there were the number of times his finger somehow got caught while the mixer blades were moving. Still happens, but I’ll have to say, he is careful it doesn’t happen when there are witnesses.
“Husband” agrees to be safety conscious with the “children”. “Wife” agree not to be overly protective of the “children”.
Section 8: The Rob Clause
“Husband” agrees to limit Rob visits to once a week including dinner invitations. Husband also agress to set limits with Rob to ensure he is not inviting himself to gatherings, etc. While “wife” understands that “husband” and Rob are friends, “wife” is very conscious of food costs and the emotional drain of “wife”.
Emmy: His friend Rob was here CONSTANTLY!!! Nice guy, but when he was bored while unemployed for the 9 months out of the year he is unemployed, he would come to his friend Garbanzo’s house. Right about dinner time. Or invite himself out with us. Nice guy when in moderation.
Garbonzo: I miss Rob.
Emmy: I didn’t make him stop coming around. Okay, so I stopped feeding him which in turn made him visit less, but his absense isn’t my fault.
Garbonzo: Yes it is.
Section 9: Money
“Wife” agrees to continue to support “husband’s teaching habits”. “Wife” also agrees to allow a monthly comic book allowance to the “husband”. “Husband” and “wife” agree to be responsible with their money. “Husband and “wife” agree to limit e-bay and other online spending habits. “Wife” agrees to continue to bring home the tofu for “husband”.
Emmy: Unlike most people these days, our finances and money is all inter-tangled (and has been since before we graduated college). The joke used to be that I would one day cut him off since I am the breadwinner. This was my way of saying that was not going to happen.
Garbonzo: And I appreciate it!
Section 10: Renegotiation
Renegotiation can reoccur at any time during the agreement. Renegotiation should include a bottle of wine and should have no “children” present. This agreement encourages good and open communication.
Emmy: Notice this clause conflicts with the first one? He didn’t. Did it on purpose to see if he’s notice. You’d be surprised how often this happens in real contracts. It’s because they reuse other ones.
Garbonzo: My only consolation is that I can hold my vino better than she can. Maybe that will work to my advantage.
Emmy: Yes you do. But I’m “fun in bed” when I’ve been drinking. Or so you are fond of saying. I think I’ll have to use that to my advantage.
Effective Dates: October 7, 2003 through October 7, 2004
Yeah, I think it’s time I write a new contract. Maybe I’ll do that for our anniversary on the 7th.