Opinion: Waging a good marriage


Everybody throws the word “bet” around. “Mary Ellen, I bet we’re going to be late again.” Or, “Dick, I bet that burger has 50 grams of fat.”

I enjoy a good wager every once in a while, but I’m also very cheap. I spend a lot of time in casinos…eating the free eggrolls and watching people pull the lever on the nickel slot machine. I like the action.

The truth is that it’s no fun making even a small side bet in a marriage, because there is no excitement in winning. Recently I bet Mary Ellen we would get at least three inches of snow. “Where’s my ten bucks?” I asked her when I was proven right.

“Oh, I don’t have any cash. I forgot to go to the bank. Can you give me some money so I can get groceries tomorrow?”

“Of course. Here’s $50. Now hand over my ten.” I won the bet and it only cost me $40. Last week, Mary Ellen predicted the Oscar winner for Best Actor. “Where’s my $20?” she asked, after Eddie Redmayne took the award.  I handed over the cash, but she gave it right back to me because I needed it to pay the kid who shovels the driveway.

In most marriages, resources are all in one pot, so winning a bet or receiving a gift is not very satisfactory.  Like for my birthday this week…

“Wow, what a great watch this is, Mary Ellen. WE shouldn’t have spent so much money on it. I know how hard WE had to work to pay for it.”

Mary Ellen says it’s the thought that counts. My thought is, I wish she had squirrelled away the money, then bought my gift with that money. When I see my birthday gift on our charge card, it’s not a gift. Or a surprise. PLEASE, is there anyone who understands what I am saying?

My wife and I no longer bet cash, but chores. “Okay, if I win I’ll cook dinner for a month, Mary Ellen.”

“I hate your cooking. I hope I lose.”

“Okay, if you win, I’ll drive the entire way on our next long trip.”

“Dick, you already do all the driving on long trips. You’re really lousy at this betting thing.”

“Get in the spirit, Mary Ellen. Isn’t wagering kind of fun?”

“I married you,” she said. “That’s the biggest chance I plan to take.”

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