April 2, 2020

The Importance of Finding a Good Couple

The writer’s wife, Nancy, left, and the writer flank Yosy and June Schames.

My wife and I spend time with many other couples and mostly find it very rewarding. I find it’s not always easy for a married couple to find another couple whose four members get along. We’re lucky to have many such friends. 

There are a million reasons why people do or don’t like one another. Here’s why we get along with one particular couple:  We all enjoy hanging out and doing things together. We never feel like they’re squeezing us in like we’re on the “we owe them dinner” list. It’s reminiscent of friendships of your childhood, not complicated, like many adult relationships. 

We’ve traveled with them to Israel, Canada, Europe, Alaska and Mexico and look forward to our next trip. One of their great qualities is they say yes to practically everything. If, during a trip, we say, “Let’s meet in the lobby at 9 a.m.,” they’re in the lobby five minutes early. 

Last year, the wife suggested we see a show called “Shen Yun.” It was $160 a ticket and was so bad that we left halfway through. Then I suggested we see a play called “Happy Days,” which was worse than “Shen Yun.” Guess what? We’re still going to plays together and still laughing about it. 

And like a lot of Jewish couples, the husband has no say in what event he’s attending or when. I used to ask the husband first if they wanted to join us. His answer was always, “Call my wife.” Then the day before the event, I’d say to him, “See you tomorrow at the play.” Like a 3-year-old, he’ll say, “Oh good. I’m going to a play. I didn’t know that.” 

I think this relationship works because the wives enjoy talking and doing things together with or without their husbands. Many nights they talk on the phone, which is 30 minutes when I won’t say something stupid and get into a fight. 

We like to laugh and make one another laugh. That really helps.

Also, my friend and I are proof that two men can get together and not utter the “S” word: “sports.” We never ever talk sports. We never sit down and watch a game. What we like to do is tell each other jokes but many times, we discuss deep subjects. We both love learning things. We never talk about other women, rarely gossip and enjoy discussing family and children.

We’re all passionate about Judaism. He likes to teach and I like to learn. When we travel together, we always bring a sefer (holy book) to learn with and discuss. The wives also are included in that, which thrills them to no end but we married good sports. 

We like to laugh and make one another laugh. That really helps. We have had some incredible belly laughs when  we thought we might have to call a medic if we kept howling much longer. While driving in Italy a few years ago, we arrived at a tollbooth and, for some reason, we were laughing so hard that the booth operator thought we were laughing at him and wouldn’t lift the arm to let us pass until we stopped laughing. That made us laugh even more. We sat there for almost five full minutes laughing while the tollbooth operator looked the other way. Every time someone said, “Stop laughing,” we’d laugh even more. 

And most important, we like being with good people, which they are. Twice a week for years, they have opened their home to whomever wants to come and learn Torah. They also supply dinner for anyone who comes. For years, they’ve delivered food with their children for Tomchei Shabbos, an organization that gives free food to people who might not have food for Shabbos. They moved the husband’s elderly mother into their home and treat her with the utmost respect and love.

And of course, trust. You have to know that if push comes to shove, your friends are there for you. 

When you find a couple like this, hang on to them. They are very rare. I hope you find that couple or you can borrow ours, but not for too long.

Mark Schiff is a comedian, actor and writer.