Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Marriage Approval Ratings

It's Red Cowboy's third anniversary today, which is a fitting intro to this post. Because in the course of an e-mail conversation about women and relationships with some friends this morning, one of my married buddies dropped this bomb of an analogy:

"These days I compare marriage to a presidential approval rating. You'll never get to 100% approval. So you hope to stay in the mid 50s to low 60s if you can. So at best - it sucks 40% of the time. Right now the approval rating in our house is in the mid-40s (not good), but is up from all-time lows of 31-32%. With our new economic and job creation programs, we're hoping to push this into the mid 50s by February."

Unlike most White House beat reporters, I pressed him for follow-up and received this immediate response:

"Marriage is as rough as everyone says ALL THE TIME. And the analogy comes from what it must be like to be the president with all this pressure and you're constantly trying to do the right thing and it keeps not working. My belief is that *the most* happily married people in the world have marriage approval ratings of no more than 70% (sucks 30% of the time)."

In other, less awful news, I started a July 7, 2004 news post like this: "A doctor at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center today announced that "face transplants" are a matter of when and not if." Turns out, those Face/Off prognosticators were correct. Creepy.

And check out this sick footage of a windy day in case I need it some day, remind me never to wash windows on scaffolding.


At 4:28 PM, Blogger Trix said...

Dear Lord. Why don't we just all shoot ourselves now & get it over with!

At 4:55 PM, Blogger ethan said...

and if you mess up and shoot off your face, now you can get a new one!

At 5:04 PM, Blogger hoobs said...

this certainly doesn't explain it all, but i really think people get married for the wrong reasons in many cases. i know a lot of people (family and friends) who just had this idea that they wanted to get married, and then took the plunge with the next available person when it is evident from the outside that it won't work. i have an orthodox friend from school who has been seriously husband-shopping for the past four years, because she really felt pressured into it. she finally got engaged, and i asked her if she was excited. she responded, "i'm not so much excited as i am relieved that it's finally happening." i didn't say anything, but if i'm not excited and really happy about spending the rest of my life with someone, then it just won't happen. i know that marriage is hard work and who am i to judge, but i wonder if people will ever stop deciding what will make them happy before they can discover it for themselves.

At 5:13 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

My marriage has easily been in the 70% approval rating for it's nearly 2.5 year tenure.

It's not that rough if you have the right person. My wife is also my best friend, and I'm looking forward to heading home and seeing my best friend in about 22 minutes.

I think your marriage depends a great deal on how you get along with others in general. If you're fairly easy going and willing to talk out your problems, you're not going to have many problems. If you fly off the handle and get in donnybrooks with people in general, marriage will just amplify the problem.

At 5:17 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 5:18 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

And that concludes another exciting episode of "The Almost Doctor Is In," starring the incomparable JB Hoobs.

Tune in next week when our topic will be, "How to make awesome fucking cookies for our book club meeting." Ladies, this guy not only knows his shit, but he's a master pastry chef.

Seriously, though, I couldn't agree more. Not in this particular friend's case, but often times societal pressure trumps the idea of love. Sad, but it's too true.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Phiul said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:26 PM, Blogger Phiul said...

Whenever anyone gets real about the pressures of marriage you get 1 of 2 things:

1. The "Yeah, I guess for most people, but not for me" response. "My marriage is awesome all the time." This one is served with a heaping pile of denial or defensiveness (or maybe both). This kind of thing can be overheard at any urban yuppie hangout and in all of suburbia.

2. The "I'm 24, never been married, getting laid all the time and don't think I ever want to get married unless I find the perfect person and they meet all of my exact economic, social and sexual needs. If they don't, what's the point?" response. I used to be this person. Except the getting laid part. Good luck to you.

My wife and I have been together 1.5 years. And it's been a bitch. And I'm not afraid to admit it. My spouse and I say all the time - if you think your marriage is awesome, then you're in big trouble. You have to realize that it's gonna be really shitty sometimes.

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Russell Kahn said...

Marriage approval rate here at 99%, and I don't thing I'm in denial. But then again, it's barely been a year. Talk to me in 20.

As for that Denver article, what the fuck was with that lede? How can you end the FIRST sentence in a story incomplete like that? How can a sentence end in "several"?

"Two window washers were nearly knocked off their platform in downtown Denver after a boom that secured the platform to the building broke, sending the platform swinging wildly in the air for several."

Fuckin' amateurs.

At 7:40 AM, Anonymous Rashid Muhammad said...

Wow, I would pay big bucks for a ride like that! Where do I sign of for this window washing gig?

Interesting thoughts on marriage Paul, I just wonder about this new species of woman that you seem to have discovered.

Willing to talk out problems? Not flying off the handle?

This creature should be studied! For all of mankind!

At 9:10 AM, Blogger jakezebra said...

Mulgrew and I have been married for over 8 years. The yearly average likely falls in the 64-82 percent range, except for a brief period in 99 when he was "really attracted to Asian men over 45" and I was spending a lot of time crying in the bathroom.

At 9:46 AM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Being married is a lot like being drunk in that, from the other person's perspective, it accentuates certain emotional tendencies. A "fighting drunk" will probably be a "fighting spouse."

To everyone who has reported that their marriage is difficult, I have a question. Are your problems specifically related to the marriage, or are they extraneous problems (a sudden emergency, money trouble, etc.). In other words, do you have problems simply because of personality conflicts, or do you have problems reacting to challenges outside the marriage?

My marriage is basically bereft of petty sniping. In the rare instances when we do have a few problems, it's usually related to some external stimuli.

At 9:56 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Who knew I had so many married readers? Well, I guess I did.

My stance on marriage is easy: Anyone who gets/got married before 25 should be shot. Everyone else, you're on your own.

At 10:33 AM, Blogger MDS said...

B.S., Ace. I got married at 23, and I'm still married at 29, and I report consistent approval ratings in the high 90s. I agree completely with Noonan. The notion I strongly disagree with is "marriage is hard work." My marriage is fun, not work. We're together because we enjoy each other. Noonan and dhodge have been in the company of me and my wife and I think they'll back up that we hang out together because we like hanging out together, not because we're busily working at this incredible challenge called marriage. I knew at 23 that I had met the right person, so why wait?

At 10:56 AM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

Well, that's just like your opinion, man.

My opinion? I think you should be shot.

At 12:08 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

I would also like to note that being in love is in no way a guarantee of a good marriage.

Before I met my husband I was in love with this guy. I had it bad. Sweaty palms, head spinning, nausea, putting the cereal in the fridge and the milk in the cupboard. The works.

We faught constantly and he drove me crazy. But, I was in love with him for sure. If I had married him, however, I would be in jail by now because I would have already shot him or burned him in bed.

Anyway, I extricated myself from the situation even though it felt like I was chewing off my own arm.

My point? I don't know. Oh yeah... I don't think that marrying JUST for love is always all it's cracked up to be. But, somehow, I still really enjoy watching romantic comedies... Huh.

At 12:24 PM, Blogger Phiul said...

Good to see Gypsy!

I'm not saying my marriage is difficult. Wait - yes I am - it's difficult (see, even I want to deny reality sometimes). Personality (not outside pressures) is what makes it so.

I believe that no matter what (like the dude that made the presidential analogy) you're never going to be higher than say a 70% approval rating. 70% is frickin' great for a president. And it's great for a marriage too. Even when you're at 50%, you're doing pretty well.

Remember - before you got married you could do ANYTHING YOU WANTED, ANYTIME YOU WANTED WITHOUT EVER HAVING TO CONSIDER ANOTHER PERSON'S FEELINGS (go ahead married people - read that back to yourself a few times). If you are going to tell me that I'm crazy to think that there was some calm and solice in that fact, then I'm calling you a marriage fanboy/girl (and a liar).

My wife and I have (what I think is) a good marriage. And that good marriage still has never crested 55% approval from either side. We understand that sometimes it sucks to have to consider another person.

At 12:39 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Good to hear from you too Titsy.

I agree. Marriage is hard. I joke about it a lot. But really, I too consider it difficult, but worth it.

I don't think that this idea of romantic love is enough to carry you through. Everyone has that in the beginning. But at the end of the day, I think that you have to settle down with someone you also like, that you can laugh with and you respect. The last one being the most important.

I don't know. I'm no expert. My husband and I struggle like everybody else. But I do admire and respect him.

At 12:49 PM, Blogger Jason Mulgrew said...

How DARE you air our dirty laundry on here, Zebra. I'm going out tonight and guess what - I'm call Hoan.

Have fun in the fucking bathroom, jerk.

At 12:53 PM, Blogger Matty Mac said...

And I just got I'm scared.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...






Well, if you're not considering someone else's feelings out of the goodness of your heart, you're certainly going to have a "sex issue."

Do you have less freedom when you're married? Sort of. You also have a different kind of freedom. You can divide labor (and it's different than the roomate situation of divided labor. You actually care if you do a good job when you're married). Cooking, cleaning, shopping. You only have to do half as much.

This frees up more of your time.

You also share stuff.

But these are fairly shallow concerns. What did I give up when I got married? I don't know. I still watch MNF with my friends every week, I still watch the Pack every Sunday, I still go to bars, I still throw up on my birthday, apparently, I played in a flag football playoff game yesterday, and the only thing that keeps me out of Vegas is my finances.

Have I given up some things? I suppose. I eat less pizza than I used to, but I still eat pizza, and now I'm an excellent cook (if I do say so myself) which I didn't even realized I liked doing until I was married.

I'm actually having a very hard time remembering anything that I really miss about being single. My wife spent the summer in Rome this year, and I thought that things would change a lot while she was gone. They didn't.

I'm with MDS. Put me in the 90-95% approval rating zone. BTW, I met both Mr. and Mrs. MDS on a Sunday at the Gin Mill on Lincoln in Lakeview watching a Lions v. Viking game (that the Lions lost on a missed PAT, if memory serves). I always assumed that when I got married that I would miss stuff like that most of all, but I don't.

At 1:19 PM, Blogger John Howard said...

My wife and I saw Face Off on our first date, and she still laughs at me because when they switched the faces, I commented that it seemed really strange to me that they didn't even rinse it off first. I hope they did when they did it for real.

At 2:02 PM, Blogger jakezebra said...

I wasn't airing DIRTY LAUNDRY, I was sharing with the group to help us. Please believe I was only trying to help us, baby. But you go and call Hoan, maybe afterwards you guys can solve some complex math problems while drinking tea out of tiny cups and standing in front of a moving tank with one arm outstretched. IF you come home tonight, piss before you come in, cause the bathroom is going to be occupied.

At 4:16 PM, Blogger The Ambiguously Gay Uno said...

Lots of responses to this one! Very intriguing post and comments.

I am 100% convinced that Noonan's wife reads this here blog religiously and he's just out-flanking her with his wise comments.

At 4:38 PM, Blogger Ace Cowboy said...

"I am 100% convinced that Noonan's wife reads this here blog religiously and he's just out-flanking her with his wise comments."

Couldn't agree more.

At 5:10 PM, Blogger PaulNoonan said...

Yeah, right. Plastic blowup dolls can't read.

I mean...uhhh..not...Oh, crap.

(Just kidding hon.)

At 2:36 PM, Blogger DannyNoonan said...

I think that Paul is being completely truthful about his marriage. But I also think that it has a lot to do with who he is (and who Jodi is but I don't know her as well). Paul is just the kind of guy that is totally willing to compromise, be objective, not get overly emotional etc. He's always been that way. I think another part of it is the household we grew up in. In my 26 years of knowing our parents, I have not once seen them fight. Never. In fact, I can't recall a time they have disagreed. I never really thought of this as strange until my friends and I started talking about marriage.

In short, I think it is possible for some people to have marriage approval ratings way over 70% if they're the right people. For others, it's damn near impossible to break 50% even if they totally love eachother.

At 4:06 PM, Blogger Gypsy Rose said...

Yes, I am the thing that wouldn't leave the marriage post/comments.

Anyway, I'm not buyin' it Noonan brothers... until I hear from Jodi.

You have to get both sides approval rating and take an average.

Like right now, my husband's approval of me is way high. I cook him gourmet meals... every day. Prepare fresh baked goods for him... every day. Have managed to lose the baby weight, so I look like a supermodel compared to the other 40 year old truck driver's wives (not compared to the general population, just compared to that demographic.)

He, on the other hand, pretends to be retarded when it comes to everything domestic. It's like this:

Him: "What goes in the diaper bag?"

Me: (under my breath) "Same shit as yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before that."

Then other months he'll hate me and I'll think that the moon and stars shine out of his asshole.

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