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The obligatory bio

My Calgary Sun Column & More

Gary Lautens

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June, 1990

I have the most useless job in the world.

Father of the groom.

Our Stephen is getting married this weekend and, as father of the groom, I'm expected to do absolutely nothing.

Okay, I have to show up.

But that's all. I have no duties. don't have to hire a string quartet, arrange for flowers, select a modest but saucy little wine, or walk down any aisle.

I could nod off and no one would care. Or notice.

Well, not for me the role of non-participant I want to get in my two cents' worth.

So, as my contribution to the wedding, I offer Stephen and his bride, Rhea this advice on marriage.

Always eat a good breakfast. A good marriage requires lots of energy and you shouldn't start the day on an empty stomach.

Always put the other person first.

Never leave home without a kiss. It's nice. If you can work in a little pat, I'm all for that, too.

Have fun. If you don't make each other laugh, there is something wrong. I assume Gorby can make Raisa giggle with just the right word, and Maggie Thatcher puts Denis on the floor with her accounts of the day at 10 Downing Street.

Accept early in marriage that there are some things you'll never agree on - the proper room temperature, station wagons, pedal-pushers, the three Stooges. This is normal. Don't panic.

Don't try to win every argument. Compromise with dignity. And no gloating.

Live within your means. Money management is a lot more important than you may think in marital bliss. Don't be afraid to do without things. Things won't keep you together. When you look back, it isn't things you remember.

Surprises. You need lots of them. Just the other morning, I found a little poem left at my place at the table. Now you know why I think I have the finest life partner in the galaxy.

Don't sulk whine, or leave things in your pockets on washday.

Don't save your best smiles for strangers, people at the office, clients. Get your priorities straight.

Talk to each other. I'm a big believer in this.

Have a nice, big, cosy bed where you can start and end each day with a cuddle. If you 're too busy to cuddle, you are probably suffering from a bad case of self-importance - fatal in a marriage.

Don't take each other for granted even if you're celebrating your golden anniversary.

Be faithful.

Don't figure romance is over once you're married. It's just started, if you play it right.

Have dinners at night with every one around the table discussing the day's events. Don't have the TV on. Don't read the newspaper. Don't just complain. It's time to lighten up and relax.

Serve whipped cream now and then. Whipped cream puts everybody in a good mood.

A little lace never hurt a marriage.

Have children. And when you have them, take care of them love them, enjoy them, spend time with them, say "No" to them, play with them, hug them. Children are probably the most important contribution you'll make to the world, so don't treat them like a hobby or leave them to strangers to raise.

Have a porch as soon as you can And a couple of nice chairs. Sit out on summer evenings and watch sunsets. You don't always have to be on the go.

Be around when things go right, but also when they go wrong.

Listen, listen, listen. You'll be surprised what you learn.

No double standards.

Early in the morning, when you're still just halt-awake, reach over and touch your partner to reassure yourself that he or she is there, and that things are all right. Tenderness is still legal.

And finally:

Invite the father of the groom over for dinner when you have meat loaf or Swiss steak. He promises not to give any more advice.

(c) Estate of Gary Lautens