By Ellen Braunstein, Special to Chicago Jewish News
Anyone who understands that a sense of humor is essential for women who want long-lasting marriages, should enjoy Judi Schindler’s new book: “Husbands: An Owner’s Manual.” It takes a look at how to select a husband and how to maintain him “in good working order including replacement parts, warranties and exchanges.”
A Jewish Chicagoan in her mid-70s, who has been married to the same man for 53 years, Schindler claims that the secret to her marriage is “in all these years my husband and I have never had a single meaningful conversation.”
Schindler has been entertaining live audiences with her witty, candid advice on men and marriage since 2012. Her 40-minute performance for women’s groups and other venues employs images and sound effects. The 80-page hardcover book features cartoon illustrations by Elwood H. Smith and Mike Wykowski. It is available through Amazon or her website, judischindler.com.
“From the beginning, people were urging me to turn my performance into a book,” Schindler says. “I was motivated to give it a try two years ago. I worked with an editor to make it read funny and a designer to make it look funny.”
Schindler began her career as a public relations and marketing consultant, heading a 10-person firm for more than 40 years. In 2008, she took up a second occupation as an actor, performing in local theaters, commercials and films and recording voice-overs for organizations. Her late in life career switch was documented last April in the Wall Street Journal’s column “Second Acts.”
She searched for a person around which she could build a live performance. She decided it would be her. “As a certified Jewish mother, I had been giving out advice for years, free of charge. (Try and stop me.) Perhaps I could turn that into a humorous and entertaining show.”
In Schindler’s new book, readers will learn how to translate the phrase, “I need to find myself,” the pros and cons of marrying a nerd and the last vestige of chivalry every woman must demand.
Here are some of her observations:
The Divorce Rate:
“Back in the Middle Ages, couples didn’t divorce. Famine and disease put them out of their misery.”
“One of you thinks a ‘church key’ is something that opens a chapel door. The other thinks a ‘hook-up’ means getting your phone installed.
The Other Woman:
“It’s a lot easier to admire a man if you’ve never washed his underwear.”
Marrying a Man Who Has Children:
“If you have a choice, find a man with sons rather than daughters. They are less likely to engage you in mortal combat for daddy’s affection.
“I strongly favor it even for people who aren’t gay.”
Cracking the Code:
“I need to find myself” means, “I have a girlfriend.”
“Having your husband retire means half the income and twice the husband.”
“Husbands go wife-deaf after 20 years.”
A Manual on Husbands:
“Even toasters come with manuals, and what can be easier than making toast.”
“Laughter is what is distinctly Jewish about her book,” she says. “I think laughter is very Jewish. When the going gets tough, the tough get going and the Jews make a joke.”
On the more serious side, Schindler believes that nurturing and protecting a man’s ego is essential to a long-term marriage.
“Brag about him to his friends. Flatter his ego. Overlook petty flaws.”
She advises, “Men want us to think they are smarter, braver and stronger than we are. Let them.”
In her experience men who leave their wives do so, not because they find someone better, but because they find someone who admires them more.
“While the book is meant to be entertaining, I hope readers also learn some useful strategies on how to stay married in life,” Schindler said. “Slammed doors aside, there’s enormous gratification that comes with creating a family and growing old with the same person.”