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Published February 13 2011

Swift: Husband-and-wife controversy over temp warms up

Before Irwin and I got married, the priest required that we fill out forms to determine our compatibility.

The tests asked about our personal approaches toward money, our thoughts on child-rearing and our views on handling conflict. Nowhere on the form did it ask about our philosophy regarding the thermostat.

Seriously. I could not find a single section where the test determined if a human polar bear could peaceably and comfortably share habitat with a human flamingo.

Instead, I have spent the past 10 years shivering, sleeping in snowpants and cranking up the thermostat. Irwin, meanwhile, has spent it whipping off his shirt the minute he gets home, complaining of heat stroke and turning the thermometer to penguin-friendly levels.

One would think this is a minor thing, but it has affected almost every aspect of our married life.

When we shopped for a new comforter, Irwin wanted one approximately as thick as a grape skin. I wanted one as thick as a grizzly bear’s pelt.

Irwin will bound outside in a spring-weight jacket, no gloves and no hat – even though it’s 10 below outside. I, on the other hand, dress like Admiral Byrd just to trundle 50 feet to the mailbox.

Even in the car, our wildly disparate internal thermostats cause conflict.

I will get in the vehicle, turn the seat warmer on high and immediately crank up the heater.

Irwin will shake his head and patiently explain that the car needs to warm up as it’s only blowing cold air.

But in my haze of immediate gratification, I can’t imagine driving around in a stone-cold car like Og and his Cavewife. How can the automobile industry invent a car that parallel parks itself but can’t heat up right away?

So I will turn up the heat for the same reason that I’ll repeatedly push an elevator button. It doesn’t bring about the desired result any faster, but it makes me feel like I’m trying to do something about it.

When the heat vents finally start to blow warm air, I’ll turn the fan on full bore, allowing it to blast into the cab and leach all of the moisture from my eyeballs.

When I’m not looking, Irwin will crank the heat down to its lowest notch so the heater generates as much heat as a hamster blowing through a cocktail straw.

And so it goes, over and over again.

If we’d known then what we know now, we would have rewritten our wedding vows.

Forget “for richer, for poorer.”

We’d change it to: “For warmer, for colder.”


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525