As my first husband and I approach our 38th year of wedded bliss, it occurs to me that there could be pre-marriage tests... you know, the activities one could undertake during that rosy courting stage that might 'test the metal' of the potential relationship.

Having just completed our eighth household move since walking down the aisle during the flower power era, I can think of several 'tests' a couple could take prior to making a permanent commitment to each other.

Before undertaking the hundreds of important details that comprise a household move of a mature couple with grown children who haven't come back for their stuff, there are smaller tests, just to get you started.

One might involve food.

Let's say we take the young (or not-so-young) couple, give them a thick cardboard box stapled together every quarter-inch, a good sized trout just off the hook, and a poorly equipped tool box.

The couple is given a time limit... one hour might be good. During that hour they must get into the box which contains a gas barbecue, in parts, read the instruction manual which is written in a dozen languages all in mice-type, assemble the barbecue, get it fully functioning, environmentally dispose of all packaging, filet the fish and cook it and eat it.

Now, that'll bring out a bit of the true personality, don't you think?

My first husband and I would fail.

Maturity has taught us our limits. Sitting in the garage right now, in its box, is a little lawn table we bought at Rona. The chairs were assembled, thank goodness, but the table arrived in bits. I'll keep you posted, but after this latest household move, neither of us is up to assembly directions translated into English from Chinese.

Another test.

This might involve design, colour, texture, taste and cooperation. Said couple would be given several wallpaper books (do these still exist?), all with strong patterns. They get a pair of scissors, an exacto knife, a length of string and a washer, a water trough and a sponge.

Time limit? Three hours. During that time they must agree on a pattern they can live with in a key room for a period of time. They must work together to hang wallpaper, floor to ceiling, around at least two corners and three walls. Extra points for dormer windows. This activity could be illuminating!

For a couple who's interested in intense pre-commitment training, I would suggest a household move.

Observing packing practices of each species is an eye opener. So is labelling, or lack of. So is changing addresses, booking the truck, packing the extraneous details like the garage or the kitchen.

A time limit wouldn't matter in this case because the character traits of each party would be immediately apparent. The organized individual would begin immediately; the relaxed, pleasant, take-it-or-leave-it individual would do just that--leave it for the new owners!

It's certainly fodder for conversation. It's also fodder for columns.

And because I expect my first husband to remain just that, that's all I'll say.

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