Adults almost never pretend to be married. Pretending to be married is usually the province of little girls. Men occasionally pretend not to be married by removing their wedding rings in out-of-town bars and female sales reps will do the same before attempting to peddle the latest pharmaceutical to a busy male doctor.
For the record my wife and I have been married 44 years this July. Most of those years I carried health insurance for us via my work place. In none of that time did I ever have to prove I was still married. Oh they would ask me if I was married and I would bring in our hand-signed wedding license and that would be sufficient proof to sign her up.
So, having been through this process many times I assumed I knew how to handle it. The form I got in the mail recently was not even for obtaining coverage, it was for continuing the coverage we already had. It now required proof of marriage if my wife was to remain on the policy. So I trotted out our 44 year old marriage license, copied it on my copier, and blithely mailed it into our carrier. A couple of weeks later I received an official looking piece of mail from our insurance company. Upon opening it I was informed that a dated and signed marriage license was not proof of marriage. I would need to obtain and mail to them a marriage certificate with the raised seal of our State on it. I did not know such a thing even existed. So after some bother and a fee I obtained a copy of this document and slightly less blithely sent it into our carrier.
A couple of weeks later I received another official looking piece of mail from our insurance company informing me that this only proved that I had been married but not that I was still married. Gosh, I had never thought about it quite like that before. It’s easy to prove you had gotten married some time in the murky past but how do you prove you are still married now?
Starting to be concerned by this situation, and with the deadline nearing, I called our carrier and asked what I needed to do next to prove I was still married. Should I send in a piece of her ear?
Ms Bureaucrat on the phone was not amused. She curtly informed me that I needed to send in some document showing that both of us still lived at the same address. How, I wondered, does that prove we were still married? I guess they figure that no man would be living with the same woman at the same address for 44 years if he wasn’t married to her.
I couldn’t help thinking of Huey Lewis singing ‘We are bound by all the rest, like the same phone number, all the same friends and the same address.’ So I suggested that she could look in the phone book and see we still had a land line with both our names and the same address. Nope, that would not do.
So what kind of document do you need? I would need to send in an actual utility bill with both of our names on it, for the same address and dated within the pass three months. This may seem easy to some of you but it was not easy for us. Back when we first moved into our house I was busy working so my wife took care of going around in person and signing up all of our utilities. Back then she simply put her name on everything because – get this – she had to provide proof I also lived there since I wasn’t there in person. We literally did not have one utility bill with both of our names on it. Interestingly the utility company did not seem to mind a total stranger (apparently) paying her utility bill for the past 35 years!
Now I was starting to panic. This was turning into an episode of The Twilight Zone where the man wakes up in bed with a strange woman who claims to be his wife. All of our insurance bills are paid annually, our taxes are filed electronically, so we had nothing with both of our names on it dated in the past three months.
Finally I remembered our rental property. We paid one utility and it had both of our names on it! Like the poor fool in Twilight Zone I thought the nightmare was finally over. And like that guy I was to discover it never ends. I hurriedly sent in this utility bill.
A couple weeks later I received yet another official looking piece of mail. I was informed that this utility bill did not show the same address we said we were living at. The room started spinning around my head. We were within a week now of my wife being dropped from our coverage because I could not prove I was still married to her.
So I called back Ms Bureaucrat and begged her over the phone to not drop my wife from our coverage. With God as my witness, I cried, we are still married and living at the same address, I just don’t know how to prove it to you. She was unsympathetic.
Inspiration struck. I offered to send in a copy of our driver’s licenses. They are, after all, official state documents which show us both having the same last name and the same address. I was sure I had finally won this battle of nonsense.
But she responded with the utter assurance of a grand inquisitor addressing the prisoner and calmly asked me if they had both been renewed within the last three months? I could almost hear her saying, ‘Gotcha’.
Hon, I called to my wife, apparently we are living in sin.