The country comedian Jerry Clower had a routine he did about biscuits. He claimed the absence of homemade biscuits at the American breakfast table is one reason the divorce rate is going up. For the wife who gives her man homemade biscuits in the morning it's a pretty good bet he'll be coming home that night -- so goes Clower.
Lewis Grizzard, who once called Clower the funniest man alive, declared that the last time he saw a homemade breakfast biscuit was behind a glass case in a museum somewhere. The last homemade breakfast biscuits I ever remember eating was over 30 years ago and were baked by my former mother-in-law one Thanksgiving weekend when visiting in the boonies of Winston County, Mississippi. And yes, they were indeed a go-back-to item.
But the rarity of the homemade biscuit is truer than not. Most households by necessity have both spouses working. Getting breakfast done with, by, and for two or more is a noble challenge for sure most days. Making biscuits from scratch takes time. I know from having been single for a few years before marrying that arising each day to "cook" a breakfast, and get it together for one's self alone, much more a spouse and perhaps a few children, can be indeed a major task -- whether you've been educated at Ole Miss, Southern Miss, or State.
I tip my hat and have long had a keen appreciation for the single working woman with children who, as I've been told the story many times, arises at 4 in the morning, showers, gets herself together, wakes the kids, fixes breakfast, helps them dress, drops them off at school and/or daycare, goes to work, puts up with the supervisor/boss, after work retraces her steps, hauls the kids back home, does a supper (and helps with homework), kids in bed, then maybe an hour or so for self -- then does it again the next day. Makes me short of breath just writing it.
But I think each single working gal with kids, noble as their efforts are, would agree, as I've heard them admit before, that life as a pair is a little easier than life alone. Same for a guy. And to the point I was leading up to earlier, the guy whose wife fixes him, let alone homemade biscuits, but anything at all to eat in the morning, is -- all things being equal -- a lot less likely to wander around.
But let me very hastily add that this marital saw cuts both ways. For this is the testimony from those long-term marrieds who've already blazed this trail. I try to remember to ask elderly couples, when seen in the exam room together, what they believe to be their secret in staying married so long. And the response is usually some variation of mutual respect and self-giving -- on a daily basis. But one 50+ years married rascal once quipped, "Well, Doc, it's like this. What's hers is hers, and what's mine is hers. And we get along just fine!" A caricature and exaggeration of course. But this too is probably not far from the truth.
But here's a real life example. This past week my bride and I were invited to share an evening meal with friends -- classmates of mine who were high school sweethearts and now married 40+ years. When the kind hostess told us gumbo would be served I began counting the days. After taking the 10 cent tour (their words) of their very lovely built-it-himself home, the humble and deservedly proud host shared something interesting. Shortly after they were married he presented his wife a legal pad and pen and told her to make a list of all the things she felt would make her happy. Fortunately he had married a practical girl, but his bold request resulted in a two page, single-lined, long list of things. A litany, as it were, by which to be happy. He looked at it, sighed, and stored it away, always keeping it close by for his personal review.
For the next 30 years or so he would at intervals check off selected items on the list as they were accomplished. Then one day when she asked him to plant a large potted plant he playfully balked. Surprised, she asked why. He then whipped out the list, declaring that this particular item was not on the list, the list having been completed to her great satisfaction and surprise.
Now, this wise gentleman has a college degree. But, in my opinion, he holds a PhD in the 'marriage department'. It's probably a good bet too he was raised from good stock. He also happens to be a godly man who tries to live his life accordingly. For those so inclined you can read the basis of this couple's marital success, at least in my opinion, in the advice Paul gave once in a letter to a wily group of believers at Ephesus, Greece (Ephesians 5:25-28). And judging from the content and tone of our long conversations during the evening, and especially judging from her gumbo, it's no wonder he predictably came home every single night over the past 45+ years. I'd be surprised if he hadn't raced home.
Now I realize that some certain social activists might believe this sort of thing to be old-fashioned, found in fables or fictional novels. There are indeed additional important things that matter in marriage. Agreed. But these types who mock the caring cooking wife and the sacrificing husband are as nearsighted as Mr. Magoo. They latch on to whatever their pinched ego can find that's offensive and flail away. But as long-married happy couples know, truly liberated in their domestic castles, these Magooish types are sadly a mess in their own way.
But there happens now to be science evincing that it's indeed the self-giving, and not the self-taking, that is at the core of both the happy, and the long, marriage.
Neither of our host couple believes "what hers is hers, what's mine is hers". But what is obvious and what they live is the more practical adage "your needs are mine".
I can't remember if my mother ever made homemade biscuits. We never lived in the country and there were seven of us. But she could cook an out-of-this-world lasagna and gumbo. And her daube spaghetti and shrimp stew were to die for. And every day, like clockwork, her groom, the consummate homebody, came home not much later than 4 o'clock, would do repairs or take care of home and family business. And when he passed, their union was only a few months away from celebrating its 50th anniversary. Just saying.