Aug 142009

banana man 206x300 You Should Read This 

         In the words of Monty Python, ‘…and now for something completely different.’ As we end should week here at CoupleDumb, we thought that we would give you a little something to look at instead of actually doing any work. So here are some of our favorite ‘shoulds’ and the research that shows how incredibly stupid they are. Yes, these shoulds are all wrong.

          You should drink eight glasses of water a day.

          A couple of researchers, Dan Negoianu and Stanley Goldfarb, did a literature review in order to find out where that rule came from and what they found was that they could not find much of anything.  Apparently, there is very little evidence that drinking water does anything for you, outside of the minimum requirements needed to keep you alive. Also according to the Book of General Ignorance, easily one of my favorite books outside of Dysaffirmations, alcohol, tea and coffee hydrate just as well as water. The reason that we started with this should, even though it has nothing directly to do with relationships, is because not only is it wrong, it is a bunch of bullshit. Apparently some dipshit about a hundred years ago said that we should drink a lot of water and it has been with us ever since. If something as simple as water can cling onto society like a hope sucking tick, how bad must it be for heated topics like…

          You should breastfeed.

          The elliptical on this should is that you should breastfeed forever and constantly. We have a particular issue with breastfeeding. Not that breastfeeding is bad (all of the literature is replete with the benefits) but because of the presentation. Since Jeannie is adopted and we have eleven years between her and Bobby’s birth, we had the mixed blessing of simultaneously being seasoned and new parents. We went into the hospital with a bag packed full of parenting shoulds. So having the lactation nurse tell Lee that she needed to breastfeed for, what ultimately ended up being, five hours straight directly after labor and saying it with the same caring, damning voice that the Devil uses right as he acquires your soul, only served to convince us that we had a doomed child in potential.

          Joan B. Wolf of Texas A&M did a study looking at the National Breastfeeding Awareness Campaign and found that ‘The NBAC, and particularly its message of fear, neglected fundamental ethical principles regarding evidence quality, message framing, and cultural sensitivity in public health campaigns’. Thank you, Joan. Your paper on the subject is 42 pages long. Next time we see a lactation nurse, we will bludgeon them with your article.

          You should find someone that compliments you because opposites attract.

          Opposites do not attract. Opposites annihilate each other. The offspring of matter and antimatter is a big boom and then some empty space. As it turns out, there is a huge body of research that shows that we successfully choose mates by choosing people who are similar to us. One of the good ones comes from geneticists that show that, on a DNA level, we seek out mates who bolster our genetic traits. CoupleDumb loves its twin studies and here is another one that we think is too cool. They studied the friends of identical and fraternal twins. One of the things that they found was that the friends of identical twins were almost identical to each other and were very similar to the twins. We told you, twin studies are cool.

          OK, that’s enough shoulds for this week. If you’ve actually read everything on this post and clicked all of the links then you have wasted a good chunk of the day. You’re probably thinking, ‘I should get some work done’. But wait! Shoulds are bad. Here’s an idea: teach that should a lesson and leave work early. Don’t get anything done today. Yea, that will show that nasty should who is the boss.


Aug 132009

1173662297482176 file 300x300 The Sherpa of Should

          At this point, we should wish you a happy Thursday and some crap like that but what if we don’t want to? What if we think that today we’re going to imply the wish and not be ‘shoulded’ into something, even if it is generally a good idea? Is the world going to end? We don’t think so.

          Paul says: Technically, we write a blog that gives relationship advice but the idea of giving you a bunch of shoulds simply does not fit within our kingdumb. Shoulds are the antithesis of the uplifting smack in the head that we usually like to give out. It is the subtle difference between ‘have to’ and ‘get to’. But I am getting ahead of myself.

          Let’s take the old relationship adage ‘don’t go to bed angry’. As a rule of thumb, I think that it is brilliant, integrating the concepts of communication and keeping the relationship as a priority. Now let’s change the saying a little bit. ‘You should not go to bed angry.’ The difference seems small but the impact is huge. Where the former is a good idea, the latter is a command which is immutable and indisputable. And with the command come all of the emotions. Feelings of shame and inadequacy when you are not fulfilling the big should or frustration and anger when you are but do not really want to be.

          You see, sometimes it is a good idea to go to bed mad. Being pissed and exhausted is a recipe for a fight that’s guaranteed to have the mouth engaged long before the brain kicks in. Other times it is not a good idea to go to bed angry. Laying in bed next to the person that you now are thinking of as your next victim might be a problem, especially if you keep sliding a pillow over their face. But your partner is destined to be aspirating feathers because the shmuck went to sleep and they SHOULD stay up and fight all night. Obviously, the love is gone if your soon to be ex is breaking all of the cardinal rules of should-ness. The slope into craziness is a slippery one and is greased with the word should.

          I have a particularly big problem with being told that I should do something because I have authority issues. You want me to stink? Try telling me that I should take a shower. Say it with some authority and, maybe, a finger wag and you have just set me up to grow armpit cheese. Do it as part of a committed relationship and that is where my problem with authority meets my mommy issues and, well, let’s just say nothing good can come from that union. It’s a trigger fest with me digging in like the slave woman who gets sacrificed to the monster god in every fantasy movie. There is a lot of screaming and dragging and it all could have been avoided if you just didn’t say the word ‘should’. 

          Lee says: If you haven’t noticed, Paul loves the drama; thankfully, only in his writing. Within a couple, the ‘shoulds’ are abundant. As a young married woman, I had a list of ‘shoulds’ that was carried by a Sherpa named Floyd. My Sherpa would remove the list from the pack and rattle off a hundred shoulds every morning to me. Shoulds like, ‘You should make your hubby breakfast before he leaves’ or ‘You should make dinner and wait to eat with your man’ or ‘You should provide your man with oral pleasure as much as possible’. Floyd was a fucking taskmaster.

          As a young wife I did all these things and more. I was exhausted. Until one day Paul looked at me and told me to stop. Not with the oral pleasures but with the breakfast at 5:30am and lunches that would never be eaten. I was being Betty Crocker with a smidgen of Donna Reed and Marylin Chambers (Deep Throat). The worst part was that I resented Paul for everything I should be doing. Is this what it took to keep him or was I just playing a part in this drama called marriage and neither of us was responsible for our behavior?

          After 20 years, the ‘shoulds’ are at a minimum. We are old hats at this and there isn’t much that people can tell us we ‘should’ do. Paul still holds out for the oral ‘shoulds’.


Aug 122009

drL 300x165 Celebrity Smackdown: Dr. Laura
          It’s Celebrity Smackdown day! God we love this day! This is when we allow our judgments to fly and ranting is encouraged. The topic this week is ‘shoulds’ and how they mess up our lives. So, who to smack? We need to be honest. There are just some people out there that we hate. It’s true. There very being pisses us off and anything and everything they say is suspect and heard with the background tune of banjos. One such individual, who has been mentioned on a Celebrity Smackdown before, really makes our teeth itch (this is a Paulism that means annoys or irritates). One thing is being opinionated but shoulding people while sitting in a little booth with earphones on is quite different.

          Lee says: One of my friends from grade school told me she listened to Dr. Laura. She found it funny and enjoyed hearing the train wrecks. My reaction was visceral. I hate that woman. But I need to be clear why I hate the hypocritical double speaking ethically and morally vacant Dr. Laura Schlessinger. First of all, Dr. Laura holds a Ph.D. in Physiology. I know it looks close in spelling but it isn’t psychology. She received a certification in Marriage and Family from USC and was a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist for a time but not now. She practices without a license and people believe she is a psychologist and neither she nor her staff really do anything to dispel this belief.

          So how does her radio show work? She gets someone on the phone and ‘shoulds’ the crap out of them. ‘Are you living with him?’ ‘Did you have premarital sex?’ ‘You need to honor your husband’ blah blah blah. First of all, she lived with a married man for eight years before she married him and those titty and kitty pictures that were passed around several years back were from a previous lover, not a perv who was stalking her. Just because you’re all dried up and probably won’t be engaging in these activities again Laura doesn’t give you the right to condemn others for doing it. If she discussed it like ‘Hey, I’ve been there. I get it’ that would be different. But she doesn’t.

          Then there’s the whole homosexual stuff. She is on record as calling homosexuals aberrations, deviants, pedophiles and a biological error. She was found guilty of violating Canada’s Code of Ethics by using this defamatory language. And what does she do after years of spouting this same shit from the highest mountain? She goes on Larry King and kind of takes everything back. Almost. Homos shouldn’t get married, according to her, but love is great and everybody should love someone. Hey Laura, when you were an Orthodox Jew you said ‘Be gay just don’t do gay’. So homos can love each other just not LOVE each other. Oh! What the fuck does that mean? 

          Then your kid, the former army soldier, gets caught with some really fucked up shit on his MySpace. First of all, what kind of fucktard that works for our government puts damaging photos of Arab prisoners and uses racist epithets to describe them and cartoons about raping, torture and child molestation? Yo Laura, apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, huh? Maybe if you would have stayed at home with your son (which is what you preach) instead of creating an empire based on your warped judgment, your son would have grown up to be a man of integrity and not a total asshole.

          And while we are on the subject of ‘do as I say not as I do’, Laura, your latest deal is that most women today are pigs. Now, correct me if I’m wrong, that does include you, right? I will say that CoupleDumb is opinionated and we say a bunch of things that people should try out only because we live them! Trust me. You will never find any naked pictures of me on the net, a sex tape or judging someone with ideals that I don’t live by. Besides, I’m smart and burned all the negatives and taped Scooby Doo over the sex tape like any good pig woman would.


Aug 112009

swingkid 300x266 The shoulds of parenting.
          It’s Tuesday and you should know that this week we are discussing a dirty word. Is it the dreaded ‘F’ word that will get you fined on the radio? Nope. Is it the ‘C’ word that makes women cringe and grab the closest bat? Nope. It is the ‘S’ word and we ain’t talking shit. That’s right! We are talking the dreaded ‘should’ and as parents we are so full of them it may as well be the other ‘S’ word.
          Lee says: I would like to take a moment in the beginning to ask the Mom’s in the audience a question. How many things did you give up when you were pregnant? You know, things like sushi, tuna, alcohol, traveling after a certain point, certain physical activity, risky things like road rage. For 9 months we literally went without some of our favorite things so that our babies would get the best chance possible. Sure, this wouldn’t guarantee perfection but it would limit toxic or traumatic causes to ruin the baby. As Mommies, we were more than happy to put our babies first.
          But, what would have happened if one day you broke down a little and took a bite of your husbands tuna sandwich or popped a California roll in your mouth because you just wanted one bite? That’s right! The wagging fingers and morality and Musterbating Police would have started waging a war of guilt on you the likes that have never been seen. What I’m saying is that as parents, these self-appointed, self righteous assholes do not stop at pregnancy. They keep judging and Shoulding us every chance they get. It doesn’t get easier.
Self-Righteous Asshole: Is Bobby taking any other classes other than Kindergarten? (Eyebrow raised in disapproval)
Me: Sure, he’s taking AP Physics and Calculus. We are a little bummed he didn’t make varsity dodge ball but there’s always next year.
          I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have a minimum level of care for a child but please remember, the only thing your Mom didn’t do when she was pregnant with you was shoot up dope and I’m not too sure about that. You had no car-seat, helmet or pads and you made it. She fed you processed foods, white flour and sugar in the morning, afternoon and evening and you survived. You didn’t learn another language until high school and the only thing you can say is ‘Where is the bathroom’ in Spanish and you aren’t lacking. I’m saying let’s stop shoulding parents and let’s start supporting each other.
          I, for one, will stop shoulding you if you stop shoulding me. Well? Have to go make dinner. It’s hot dog and Cheetos night at the CoupleDumb home. I think I’ll give them cubes of sugar for dessert.
          Paul says: The 1950’s demands of fatherhood have changed significantly but the shoulds have not. A dad should be involved with their children but not too involved. A dad should work hard and still be at every game, recital and spelling bee. A dad should be an equal parent but always a little less than mom. After all, we didn’t push the kid out of our peepee hole so how can we have a bond like a mother does? I’m trying to be sardonic here but I do think that if we got a handful of moms and dads together, there would be an antiquated underlying belief that mom should be ever present and dad should be responsible but distant.
          The shoulds for a dad, just like for a mom, do nothing but create inadequacy and fear. After Ricky was born, I was working in downtown Miami, about an hour away with good traffic. It was a corporate non-profit position and I was the chief financial officer. For me, this was an awful time. No matter where I was, I should be somewhere else. When I was at home, I felt that I should be at work. When I was at work, I felt that I should be at home. Since I could not shake off the shoulds, and the cloning machine was broken, Lee and I did what we needed to and pimped me out to the church job that was much closer to home and the topic of a week’s worth of other posts.


Aug 102009

robotnurse 300x215 Musterbating: Not as fun as it sounds.

          We should probably welcome you to a new week and say nice things like ‘nice to have you back’. We should probably also add something pithy and amusing to update you on any new development with our book or the website. And, we should probably, at this point, start ramping up our topic for the week with a set up and then smart ass line. However, we’re buried under all these ‘shoulds’ and can barely reach the keyboard. Do us a favor? Call our local rescue people and tell them to send us some snacks and coffee. Come on. You should be nice!

          Lee says: I should probably warn you that one of my favorite Psychologists is Albert Ellis. I should also tell you that Ellis developed the theory and practice of Rational Emotive Therapy. In this theory, dysfunction is created by irrational beliefs about the world, others or yourself. These beliefs manifest themselves as language, behavior and views of reality. So, you’re thinking, ‘What’s the big deal?’

          Some of the cool stuff Ellis talked about was the language we use. Not the potty mouth stuff I spout off every chance I get (BTW-Ellis was a potty mouth too!) but the words we use to create anxiety in us. He noted that words like ‘should’ and ‘must’ were self imposed imperatives that caused lots of negativity. ‘I should be happy’, ‘The world should be fair’, ‘I must succeed’. These words leave little wiggle room and the chances that these statements will be fulfilled are nil. Ultimately, these words would just cause colossal mind fucks. So Ellis would hammer away at a person’s ‘musterbation’ until the client realized that they caused the negative emotion and they can change it. EASY!

          So here is where I should probably share some of my musterbatory activity. Here is where I should share some messed up shit that I do so that everyone feels better, right?

          In my family, I am the party person. I tend to make sure things are getting together and, more specifically, I tend to cook at the get together. I feel that I should cook since my family enjoys that. I spend so much time preparing and cooking that I often miss the festivities. Then, I get pissed because if it weren’t for me, nothing would get done. So, do you see where my problem is here?

          I have created this belief that all get togethers are my responsibility. I have created a series of shoulds to make sure that at the end of a party, I will be angry at the very people who I felt preferred my cooking. I make myself miserable instead of telling the family, ‘Deal with it! Chef Lee is taking a break and drinking a whiskey sour on the patio!’ I wasn’t doing this sometimes. I was doing this all the time!

          Since I decided to look at this incredibly unhealthy and stupid behavior I noted some beliefs that were supporting this dysfunctional habit. I believed that putting myself in the middle of all the birthday parties and other festivities would make me invaluable to my family. I believed that my cooking made me indispensable. And, the worst of them all, I believed my family would stop inviting me if I did not heavily participate in the coordination of all social gatherings. Depressing, isn’t it?

          I’m doing better. I am still going to parties but I am aware of what I am doing and choosing to participate through cooking planning. I am making an effort to let other family members do what they can to make our celebrations memorable. Sure, we’re probably going to be eating cheese logs and mini weenies but we’ll be together and I won’t be pissed.

          Paul says: I love musterbating. Oh what, it’s the other thing that sounds like that that I like doing. Maybe I should read the first part of the post before I write my stuff.