The Meat and Potatoes of Life: Congress can learn much from spouses

| October 18, 2013 | 0 Comments


Lisa Smith Molinari
Contributing Writer

In theory, marriage should be the perfect balance of power between two parties, right?

In reality, marriage is often an adversarial system requiring the two parties to negotiate resolutions to conflicts.

Sound familiar?

All the talk of deadlock in Washington these days had me wondering if the politicians might learn a few things from how typical husbands and wives manage to make decisions on everything from buying a new couch to whose mother is coming for Thanksgiving.

When I met my military husband, he was a bit of a dark horse candidate. He came from out of nowhere, in a time in my life that I wasn’t looking for a running mate. But much to my surprise, we had one of those goofy “love at first sight” kind of meetings, and after a brief courtship, we tied the knot and I became a military spouse.

We’ve spent the last 20 years getting to know each other.

Thankfully, we found out that we have very similar platforms on big-ticket items, such as politics, morality, NFL teams and whether John Candy movies are the best (they are, in case you didn’t know).

Certainly, there are some conflicts without an absolute majority opinion, whether it’s Chinese or pizza, comedy or suspense, lights on or lights off. Sometimes, a married couple has to hold a special session before they can come to an accord that each party can live with.

It certainly isn’t easy. There’s often lengthy debate and sometimes filibuster, which, by the way, husbands completely tune out while their minds wander to things like cars, women’s body parts and peanuts.

When bargaining on whether to stay home and watch football on Sunday or to go apple picking with the family, the wife might try to negotiate a continuing resolution requiring the husband to give her a foot rub on the couch during the game. While standing in front of the Red Box on Friday night, the husband might try to logroll the swing voters, aka the kids, to vote for “Leprechaun: Back 2 Tha Hood” instead of “The Notebook.”

Both will make shameless attempts to propagandize the family, promising pork barrel spending on sugared cereals, brand name clothing and expensive electronics to garner support for their agendas. There’s muckraking and mudslinging, dissent and demagoguery, tyranny and totalitarianism.

But in the end, even if it takes cloture, husbands and wives do something that our government just can’t seem to do these days: They compromise.

Wives give in on golf outings as long as husbands help with dishes. Husbands give in on mani-pedis, as long as wives make meatballs. Whatever the terms of compromise, most married couples do what they need to do to keep their system of government running smoothly, just like my husband and I have done for the last 20 years.

That being said, I must confess, there is one thing in our marriage that my husband and I have yet to agree upon. You see, my husband insists that the toilet paper roll must be placed such that the edge of the paper hangs on the side of the roll closest to the wall; whereas, I firmly believe that toilet paper rolls are meant to hang so that the edge of the paper hangs on the side of the roll away from the wall.

This is our Cold War, our Berlin Wall, our 38th Parallel.

I fear we will never achieve détente, because getting my husband and I to compromise on toilet paper roll placement would take an act of Congress, and that’s something we know isn’t going to happen any time soon.

(A 20-year military spouse and mother of three, Molinari has plenty of humor to share in her column, “The Meat and Potatoes of Life,” which appears in military and civilian newspapers and at www.

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