So-and-so remarried recently. We couldn’t blame him, my wife and I, but it was odd to think of him without his first wife, God rest her soul. Terrible situation. We didn’t blame him for wanting to remarry. In this worst case scenario, he’d waited a few years, shown his late wife the respect she deserved, taken care of his family. God knows, he’d earned it. He had a right to try again with a woman half his age. We didn’t blame him.Worst Case Scenario: I want my wife to be miserable if I die. Is that awful? Click To Tweet
Am I morbid? Is my wife? More so than the average person? When we heard the news, we couldn’t help but wonder how either of us would handle the same situation.
“Hmm, let’s see,” I opened the browser on my iPhone, “singles cruise leaving from Miami. Four days, three nights. Hot Caribbean nights. Nice.”
My wife didn’t appear to enjoy my sense of humor.
“I promise to wear black at all of the mixers.” My wife fixed me with a six-shooter stare. “I’ll hold off on that reservation,” I said.
The Worst Case Scenario
The truth is my wife isn’t one of those people who would want her husband to remarry and enjoy the fullness of life without her. After thinking about it, I had to agree. In my imaginary worst case scenario, I would want my shadow to hang over every waking minute of her day, and infect her dreams as well. That’s not too much to ask, is it? I knew it was time to communicate my wishes.
“I want you to know,” I said with as grim an expression as I could muster, “when I die, I want you to be as miserable as possible for as long as you live.”
She nodded. I could tell she’d also given this a lot of thought. “And I hope the worst for you as well.”
“Forget about marriage,” I said. “I wouldn’t want you ever to have sex again. I’d prefer you lived in a desert cave isolated from all social interaction.”
“If you so much as looked at another woman, I would rise from my grave and make your life a living hell.”
“I’d prefer you just join a convent, lock yourself in a room with only bread and water to survive on, and spend your days in prayer, maybe a little self-flagellation.”
“If you even cracked a smile, I’d haunt you worse than Amityville. I would torpedo every chance for happiness you ever had. Your best bet is to shave your head and become a monk.”
I nod. “I’m glad we understand each other.”
Our Last Will and Vendetta
The natural next step was to enshrine our wishes in a document of our own construction. We called it a Last Will and Vendetta. It was meant to record the divine justice we want meted out to our spouse after one of us dies, assuming the remaining person doesn’t immediately commit hara-kiri, which was the stated preference in the preamble.
One afternoon, we sat down with a pad and a few sharpened pencils – no, we didn’t use an iPad, or an iPhone, just good old-fashioned paper and pencils.
“So, when I’m gone,” she said, “I’d like you to start with six months in a Himalayan cave.”
“Make it five, and I promise to hold off on the singles cruise for another three months.”
“When is your fitting for the burqa?” I asked.
“Next week, but that’s only for a year. Have you picked up that hair shirt yet?”
“Yes,” I grimaced. “I tried it’s on. It’s excruciating.”
“Good.” She smiled.
I’d wipe that smile away. “Don’t forget the chastity belt.”
“Wait a second.” I had stunned her. “I didn’t agree to that.”
I held up the contract. “Page fifty-two, article one hundred thirteen, section two.”
And so it went. It’s easy to see how these talks could break down into ugly recriminations, but these types of negotiations are essential for the modern couple. Unavoidable, even. How else can you ensure that your spouse will remain in inconsolable misery when you’re gone? Do you want to live on hope?
The Joys of Vindictivity
Yes, I know “vindictivity” isn’t a word, but vindictiveness is too passive. It doesn’t express the active nature of our reactions to this imaginary worst case scenario we had created.
Unfortunately, we had to give up the living will when we realized how impossible it would be to hold the other person accountable to our demands. Naturally, we would still hope for the worst, a life lived in perennial gloom, but we had to accept that that scenario was out of our control.
In the meantime, we decided to enjoy each other’s company for as long as God allows. That seems the best course anyway. Don’t you think?