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The Big Heat Eats Woolf.


Is it true that every man and woman in a relationship tests each other’s patience to the point where sometimes each behaves like a raving maniac? The word “every” is heavy-handed, but I’ll bet that, at some time, for some people, both gay and straight, who are in long-term, monogamous relationships, vocal differences between intimate partners can get ugly.

I have a friend who said that once her hormones moved on and out, the screaming matches with her husband went south.

I know a clinical psychologist who affirms that managing, and maintaining, a relationship over the long-haul is harder than any job because we are not programmed for monogamy. She says the only difference between the 50% that stay together and the 50% who don’t, is commitment because frustration, and having one’s patience tested, is an inherent part of the deal.

These musings arose because there was an article in the paper recently that the singer Paul Simon and his wife of 20 years, Edie Brickell, had ended up in a Connecticut court house to explain that their screaming match had been an “argument.”

The police had gotten an anonymous tip about a domestic dispute with possible physical ramifications. The article was vague on whether this person heard only words, or whether someone had crossed the line. But because this duet is a celebrity pairing, nothing stayed anonymous.

A public explanation of the dispute had to be offered and so Ms. Brickell announced:

I got my feelings hurt, and I picked a fight with my husband. The police called it disorderly. Thank God it’s orderly now.

Who wants their fights aired in The New York Times? Certainly any type of physical abuse is on a whole different planet, but this seemed to be about a bad fight. Perhaps one that had escalated to a different level, but the idea that good relationships don’t have some really bad moments is a myth. I feel for the couple. How embarrassing to have such private moments be made public because of your success.