You’ve probably seen those photo spreads of people who resemble their dogs. The owners often look like caricatures of their pets, or vice versa. Deeply furrowed brows, pendulously droopy ears and lobes, broad fleshy nostrils. The resemblance can be so uncanny you’re sure that one (or both) of the photos has been retouched. This man-dog study is less often presented in a husband-wife format. Couples who have lived together for a long time similarly begin to share each other’s features.
On my husband Jagdish’s and my 25th anniversary trip, I began to realize that facial contours are not the only thing couples synchronize as they age. My “aha” moment, which I’ll share in a minute, reminded me of some studies that document another synchronization of cohabiters.
Groups of young women who live together have been shown to migrate to common monthly cycles—that of the alpha female. I had a friend who put so much credence in this that she became obsessed with being the woman whose cycle everyone else unwittingly adopted.
Getting back to my recent “aha” moment. My husband and I have reached that age where we generally get up once or twice a night to use the facilities. At home, I’m not usually aware of his middle-of-the-night comings and goings. For one thing, Jagdish often comes to bed quite a bit later than I do. For another, we use separate bathrooms.
When we travel, all of this changes. We almost always retire at the same time and we rarely have two bathrooms. Which is how it finally dawned on me: 25 years of marriage is apparently enough time for a husband and wife to synchronize their nighttime pee schedule. I have no idea whose timing we’ve settled on, though most who know us would assume I’m the alpha in the household. For Jagdish's sake, I hope he doesn't start sharing my hot flashes at four am.
Once I got this notion in my brain, I started to wonder: “In what other ways have we become eerily alike?” The next time I heard my husband clipping his toenails, I furtively glanced at the big digit on my right foot. The nail was quite long in the tooth, but I convinced myself I had at least a week before it would require attention.
A few days later, I found myself measuring my earlobes in the bathroom mirror. I may have shrunk an inch and a half in height over two years, but I’m certain my lobes are getting longer. Come to think of it, they remind me an awful lot of my husband’s. Please, Lord, don’t let me start growing hair in those canals and have to trim it like he does.
Jagdish is charming and lovable, but I have no desire to approach singularity with the schedules of his various bodily functions. Consider for instance his snoring. It usually starts three to four hours into his sleep cycle. I’ve taken to using earplugs even when I go to bed ahead of him.
On our anniversary trip, at the hotel in Agra, I woke up in the middle of the night. I was aware that someone’s snoring had roused me, despite my earplugs. I was about to give Jagdish an elbow to wake him up, but to my horror, I realized it was my own snoring that was rumbling inside my head. I made a mental note to get my husband some earplugs when we returned home.
I shudder to think of what other synchronization awaits us in the years ahead. Seriously. What woman wants to admit that she’s become so old and so much of a caricature that the face she sees in the mirror each morning is no longer her own? It’s her partner’s.