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On Wednesday, my wife came home early and caught me doing something bad in the kitchen. We argued. I lost.

In her defense, what she caught me doing was something we had argued about before and agreed I would never do again — firing .45-caliber reloads into a bucket of sand.

Annoyed as I am to be married right now, I still agree with LDS President Thomas S. Monson telling Mormon men to stop wasting time and get married.

When I heard this at General Conference, the Spirit immediately confirmed it was true. Then again, maybe it was me. Maybe I was just happy because for the first time in my life, I was completely ahead of a church leader on a matter of genuine importance.

I'm male, Mormon and the biggest time-waster I know. But I'm already married and nobody needed to command me to do it. At the time it happened, I was simply too clueless to know better.

Mine was the usual Mormon love story — guy goes on mission, comes home, and marries the first girl who maintains eye contact with him for longer than 10 seconds.

My wife may read this, so I should probably stick closer to the truth. Contrary to the Mormon norm, we had a prolonged courtship — four months — before I turned the key to my heart over to a woman I actually only barely knew.

Thirty-six years later, we're still married. I still count it as the best thing I ever did. I can't say it was the smartest because, frankly, smarts had nothing to do with it.

I was 23 years old, had zero prospects and no idea what I wanted to do with my life other than marry her. Being Mormon, that was enough. So we got hitched.

Statistically speaking, we should have gotten divorced within a few years and a couple of kids. Marriages that begin as shallow as ours don't fare well. There were plenty of times when ours didn't.

And it didn't take long, either. Say, oh, about a year before my wife discovered that what she previously thought was interesting about me was actually a major case of irresponsibility.

And I discovered something alarming of my own — that the monkey had married the zoo keeper. The rules I once found insufferable in school, the army and on my mission were nothing compared with those posted in a marriage.

Like getting married in the first place, staying married was entirely instinctual. Problems that arose were handled on primal levels. For example, I took my wife for granted until she told me to stop.

I never physically abused her. Not because I wasn't supposed to, but rather because in those rare moments when the idea actually occurred to me, I understood that she'd take a baseball bat to me in the middle of the night if I did.

Staying married certainly isn't because I've been good or, as counseled by church leaders, I magnified my priesthood. Frankly, any personal effort in that area is on a par with looking through the wrong end of the telescope.

We're still working at it, still too clueless to know better. Maybe that's it — that we never saw our marriage as a finished product. Despite everything, including the disagreements, we keep at it.

But some things you can't change. Thirty-six years later, I'm still that idiot kid who looked at a girl and realized that his life had changed permanently for the better. I can't imagine a woman I'd rather apologize to.

And I'm not saying that just because I want the key to my gun safe back.

Robert Kirby can be reached at or