hitting home

Talking about the core of this acrimony

Column by Michael Alcorn
Posted 10/20/20

A couple walks into the marriage counselor’s office and sits down. “Doc, I don’t know what to do any more,” the wife starts in. “I’m miserable.” “I’m miserable, too, Doc,” the …

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hitting home

Talking about the core of this acrimony


A couple walks into the marriage counselor’s office and sits down.

“Doc, I don’t know what to do any more,” the wife starts in. “I’m miserable.”

“I’m miserable, too, Doc,” the husband counters. “All we do is fight.”

“Okay,” the counselor answers, in a calm, even tone. “What do you fight about?”

“He’s insanely neat, practically O.C.D.”

“She’s kind of a slob.”

“He watches too many sports.”

“She’s always watching sappy love stories.”

“He wears green with khaki.”

“She always blowing the punchline of jokes.”

“Okay, okay, okay…” the counselor interrupts. “I get it — you’re two different people and it’s starting to get annoying.”

“Yeah,” they answer, in unison.

“Were you always this way?”

He nods. “For the most part, yeah.”

“Why did it used to work?”

“Well, we’d, ya know, sit down and put our cards on the table (she’s terrible at gin rummy, by the way) and decide what we could live without and find common ground on the rest.”

“So, what changed?”

“Well, a little while ago,” she starts in, thoughtfully. “He was so preoccupied with work that I just started making all the decisions.”

“Did that seem right to you?”

“Well, sure. He was busy, and never really noticed, and then, ya know, I start seeing how screwed up he is, with being a Raider fan and stuff, and I just decided he couldn’t really be trusted.”

“Uh-huh. How’s that working out?”

“Great, for a while. I was as happy as I’d ever been.”

“And then what,” the counselor prompted, nodding sympathetically.

“Then, all the sudden, like, he decides he wants to start making decisions again. And he tells his friends how terrible I am.”

Counselor turns to husband.

“It’s true. I needed some backup if I was ever going to make sense of this and see how my friends thought.”

“That’s not very respectful of your wife.”

“Well, how respectful is it of her to just take all the decisions away, and then tell her friends how bad I am at making decisions.”

“Okay.” Counselor quiets the room and allows everybody to breathe for a few seconds. “Honestly, the two of you, how many decisions do you really think you’d make the same, if left alone to do it?”

They think for a moment. “I don’t know,” he mutters.

“Maybe 80 percent,” she finishes.

“Well, that’s a lot,” the counselor concludes. “Is the 20% really important enough to divide you, to cause you to break apart?”

And this is where the crux of the matter lies for our country.

Couples can survive a lot of stuff if they remain loyal to each other and to what they’ve built together.

There is history, and struggle and nobility in getting through the challenges of life — loyalty to that is critical. Because, let’s face it, people aren’t easy to live with, especially over extended periods of time.

And couples can learn to live with those differences. But if those differences are about core beliefs, it becomes a much greater challenge.

He likes to spend money, she’s a saver; he loves to lounge on the couch at the end of the day, she hates sitting still; he has many friends that he likes to spend time with, she doesn’t want to leave the house; Sundays are for football to him, Sundays are for church for her. Money philosophy, energy levels, social life, faith … these are pretty significant.

Differences in core values are, by their nature, not negotiable. Otherwise, they’re not “core values.” It’s those problems that lead to the term “irreconcilable differences,” which you hear tossed around every time a celebrity couple gets a divorce.

Now, consider this in relation to our city/county/state/country: there are obvious differences keeping us apart right now. The question is this: are those differences matters of core values? Or are they the negotiables?

Because I don’t want to give a third of all the country’s stuff to a divorce lawyer. More next week.

Michael Alcorn is a teacher and writer who lives in Arvada with his wife and three children. His new novel, “Charon’s Blade,” is available at Amazon.com, on Kindle, or through MichaelJAlcorn.com.” His opinions are not necessarily those of Colorado Community Media.


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