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That line was the funniest one I heard last week. The context? Imagine retirees, and the gal saying this to her husband. I’m sure you can conjure up many scenes that you want to say, perhaps yell, that line.

Before I retired in 2000 I was aware of potential problems with Marv and me being home together for longer lengths of time. Then, eight years ago, when we moved downtown Chicago into a smaller space with no yard, koi pond, or garage for him to putz with, our children, even, wondered out loud how we’d get along.

Marv's waterfall and koi pond when we lived in the suburbs.

Marv’s waterfall and koi pond when we lived in the suburbs.

But that story takes me away from the funny line. We were visiting relatives last Saturday when the gal told me her husband got into a jam in the yard recently and called for her help. At some point, she asked for a neighbor’s help. When the situation was solved, she asked the neighbor, “Would you like to take him home?” The neighbor, of course, chuckled and said no.

Then she told me the “Why don’t you just run away” line, words she said an older sister had used with her husband. Note the similar intent! Whether we say to our husbands, “Why don’t you just run away” or ask a neighbor “Would you like to take him home?” we are recognizing it’s time to chill out alone!

And I think that’s healthy! I have never been in favor of a symbiotic relationship with Marv, but I do know older couples who do things together. All the time. Luckily, we both need space and respect that space, or I’d hate to predict the outcome. Our clear definition of space has worked for fifty-one years come Sunday, and we’re not about to change in this third-quarter century together.

Besides, if anybody would use those phrases at our house, it would be Marv, not I, as the kitchen is his domain, and friends will attest that I’m not allowed. Plus he does the grocery shopping. And makes dinner every day.

Not a bad arrangement, I’d say.

Getting acquainted with the Great Lawn of Millennium Park soon after we moved downtown.

Getting acquainted with the Great Lawn of Millennium Park after we moved downtown

On this Labor Day, as some of us are no longer “working” at our careers, no longer “laboring” as we used to, and we’re spending more time together, I give you permission to tell your spouse now and then to get lost for a while. Or to offer him for sale to the neighbors.

But don’t tell Marv I said so.