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“‘None of you in here know my wife, but let me ask you a question. How much sleep do you think I lose at night wondering whether my wife is being faithful to me or not?’

“And after some thought, someone will say, ‘None.’ And I’ll say, ‘That’s right, but why?’

“‘Well, you know, she took the sink back,’ they will say.

“And I’ll say, ‘That’s right. And if I can give you one piece of advice based on what I’ve seen personally and professionally, it would be to marry someone who will take the sink back. And, to work toward being the kind of person who will take the sink back.’”

Mr. Marks said he teaches students about all kinds of marital issues, but this simple story seems to resonate.

“Every once in a while,” he said, “I will get an e-mail from a student, and it will be something like, ‘Dr. Marks, I got married last month. And he’s a sink guy.’”

Cheryl Wetzstein is on medical leave. This column originally ran on July 26, 2009.