Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The Marriage Ref

I don't know if any of you have been watching The Marriage Ref on NBC (you should btw it's hilarious) but I'm really enjoying it. While the idea is a little tacky, to help a fighting couple choose a winner, the fights, the couples and the panel of judges are very very funny. They do a great job of taking something that we think is a huge deal, like a big, never ending fight, and shed light on how ridiculous it is by using comedy...genius non? And then the panel votes on who has a better argument; and, they choose a winner supposedly to help end the fight for good (probably doesn't but still the idea is there).

Most of the fights have been over the top but comical, like the husband fighting over the dining room table that the wife refuses to use except for Thanksgiving, or the wife fighting with the husband who had their dead dog stuffed which now resides in the living room and creeps her out...but last thursday there was this couple...

The Spiegels. You can go read the description of the couple for yourself but I have to tell you it just doesnt do them the justice that they deserve. Clive, the husband is well...close with his mom, meaning he tells her EVERYTHING. She in return is sabotaging his 14 year marriage to his wife, Jacqueline. The mom is completely, 100% in Clive and Jackies business, she talks crap about the wife to her son regularly, telling him she's uneducated, and how awful she is and he just sits there and listens to her. It just gets worse and worse and worse escalating to a most unhealthy level to the nth degree. It was horrifying and I have to be honest I cannot for the life of me imagine that the wife has dealt with this for so long, the mother in law has been given a freedom she never should have been allowed and it's sickening. Oh, yeah did I mention he's a psychiatrist?

This got me thinking, how much information and freedom to roam should the in laws or your parents have in your relationship? I know we like to confide in our parents and we want them to be a part of our lives but how far is too far?

The boy is awfully close with his family, he tells them an awful lot (something I have taken issue with in the past), and his sister who is married has a room at her house all devoted to when their parents come to visit; which I have to say is well A LOT. I think its weird how much she lets them in to her marriage, I think it's dangerous ground. I don't have parents who are always here to see me, and I have to say I appreciate that. They have allowed me to grow up and be independent and do my own thing and it would weird me out and exhaust me if they were always here to "check in" and come for a visit. I sometimes feel that the boy's sister has allowed their parents to be too involved in her personal life with her husband. I know that she's close with her mom and I admire that but it's a bit too close if you ask me.

With a parents tendency to want to keep and eye on their kids and want the best for them even when we've grown up, what happens if you allow the freedom of openness in your romantic relationship as well? I know when I go home I try to avoid telling my dad and stepmom too much about my relationship because I know they would meddle if they were allowed and they certainly try when I'm home leaving me upset and questioning parts of my relationship I felt good about before I went home.

So, how far is too far? And how do you go about protecting your personal relationship without alienating your parents? At what age are we supposed to stand up for our love lives and start to keep privacy and distance?

I know that the boy and I could have that problem from both sides but we also love our parents and don't want them to feel unwelcome in our lives, our parents do often have experiences to share and advice to give that we may not know nothing about at this point in our relationship. But I do know that I certainly don't want to end up like the Speigels. There has to be boundaries and protection without causing distance...


  1. I noticed my parents starting to sort of back off when I got serious with my boyfriend, as if they realized he's my main confidant now. I didn't see that episode, but I imagine if it were me I would have been pretty upset about it, to the point of ultimatum-issuing!

  2. Hi Cinnamon! I watched the last half of the first episode and enjoyed it wayyy more than I should have. Of course, I'm a HUGE Seinfeld fan so that factored in. Regarding the in~law/parent question...there is such a thing as too much information. In my opinion, both partners in a marriage have to agree to put the other first...period. Before anyone, including parents and grown children. It's a partnership and I believe you should have each other's backs, so to speak. Of course, there are exceptions to this (i.e. abuse and the like) but in a healthy, mature relationship the couple needs this trust in order to grow and thrive and be happy. Now, this doesn't mean you need to abandon parental relationships. In fact, Mike and I spend a lot of time with his mom and my dad because we actually LIKE them, spending time with them is a pleasure.

    Thanks so much for asking such a thought provoking question. Oh, I have to comment that when you wrote about that one guy being a psychiatrist I was almost frightened...I'm thinking it might reflect poorly on the entire profession! ;)


  3. Tracey I thought the same thing about him being a psychiatrist. It seems hugely hypocritical to be giving advice to others about how to manage their destructive/mentally unhealthy lifestyles but not be able to be in control of your very own. I'm surprised he was even willing to be on the show, I would think it would be career altering. If I saw that was the personal life of my psychiatrist I would find a new one immediately.

  4. I haven't seen the show but here's my thoughts on the in-law thing: I think that its a fine line between being close with your family (which I am) and being TOO close. I confide a lot to my parents because I know they are one of the few who will give me honest, unbiased advice, but I also won't go around bad mouthing my husband to them because even though I would probably get over it quickly they would always remember.

    I think, when it comes down to it, both people in the relationship need to be comfortable with the amount of access given to in laws. What I don't agree with, however, is the idea that once married parents are no longer important. I'll always be thankful to my in laws for raising a great man and for that at the very least they will always be welcome in my home.

  5. I don't really have any good advice. I mean, I think when he's crossed the line you'll definitely feel it. And, in the meantime, if something seems a little bothersome, let him know in a non-confrontational way that there are somethings that are meant to be between you and him and it would be a violation of trust to share that... I think that's what i'd do anyway.

    either way, the marriage ref is pretty hilarious. i saw the ads for it and was super skeptical but it turned out to be funny!

  6. wowza - that show sounds crazy. I cant believe that couple!
    im not sure where the line is. i think for every couple its different and the bottom line is if both people are comfortable with each families involvement, then you're good. its when one person feels uncomfortable for one reason or another that it becomes a big problem.

  7. The episode with Madonna cracked me up!! It was definitely the best one so far :) xo