|Bridge over the Muskegon River, Newago, Michigan|
“Yup” Owen said.
“Thinking back on that discussion you and Mary Jean had about which reunion you were going to, in your honest opinion...were you more like Uncle Rob or more like Wallace?” Fred asked.
And then he waited as the gears ground, the RPM spun up and the smoke started to curl. He watched as a glimmer of recognition showed up in Owen’s eyes.
“But that was different” Owen protested.
“Maybe to you. But was it from Mary Jean’s standpoint?” Fred pressed. “Wallace couldn’t see how he was crapping all over you guys.”
Fred was a patient man. He let Owen stew on it for a bit. Fred watched the emotions play over Owen’s face.
“So, you saying that I am the reason Mary Jean turned into a bitch?” Owen said.
“No, not the only reason. She was standing at the top of the stairs and you planted a kick in her ass but there is more to the situation than that” Fred told him.
“Cast iron fact: most people divorce because of Money, Sex and Family” Fred told Owen.
“But if you dig just a little deeper, it all springs from the same roots: Who is going to call the shots?”
“You were going to run into this sooner or later, and how you handle it sets the pattern for you and Mary Jean and for every girl you date after Mary Jean. So it pays to get it right.”
“I know this is getting ahead of myself, but some day you and your wife are going to have the week-from-hell. Then, you will drop off the kids and have maybe an hour to yourselves. Your wife will want to talk for the whole hour and tell you EVERY detail. You will want to cuddle. Who wins? Who loses?”
“Suppose money is tight and you and your wife go on a budget. You are taking baloney sandwiches to work and drinking coffee instead of those expensive energy drinks. And then you find out your wife went out shopping with her cousin and just spent $1000 on make-up or clothes.”
“Maybe she didn’t mean for it to look like she is running the show and you are dancing to her music, but that is how it is going to feel to you.”
Owen was shaking his head like a big fish trying to throw the hook. He was NOT liking what he was hearing.
“So we are doomed. Men and women are always going to fight” Owen said gloomily.
“Nope. Not saying that at all” Fred assured him.
“Let’s mess around with your current problem. Who stands to gain more by going to their own reunion: You or Mary Jean?” Fred asked.
Owen spread his hands in submission. He had no idea how to sort that out.
“Lemme help a little bit. Granma and I have the reunion at our place every year, You get see most of your aunts and uncles nearly every month because they all live close by, right? Not only that, but every family member who is important to you has had the chance to meet Mary Jean.”
Owen nodded in agreement.
“Mary Jean lives down here but the reunion is in Newago which is about 100 miles away.”
“How many people in Mary Jean’s family have you met?” Fred asked.
Owen ticked them off on his fingers “Her mom, her little sister and her cousin that goes to Hoover Academy….That is it.”
“So let’s look at this from Mary Jean’s perspective. She has a new boyfriend. Scratch that, she has her FIRST boyfriend and everybody is dying to meet him. But then he stamps his feet and says he isn’t going, that it is a done-deal and he doesn’t want to talk about it.” Fred said.
“That makes Mary Jean look like desperate. It makes it look like she settled for a loser and a chump. Worse yet, it embarrasses her in front of her family, probably the people whose opinions she values more than anybody else in the world.”
“Think about it for a minute, what options does Mary Jean have to let you know how unhappy she is?” Fred asked.
“But I can’t just roll-over” Owen wailed. “That would be ‘rewarding bad behavior’ just like a mom giving a brat a candy bar in the checkout line.”
And privately, Owen was sure his boyz would tease him for being “pussy-whipped”.
Fred chuckled dryly. “This ain’t a new problem and that means that there are old answers to your problems. I just ain’t sure you are going to like any of them….”
TO BE CONTINUED....