Monday Morning Humor: Battle of the Sexes

Monday Morning Humor: Battle of the Sexes June 9, 2014

This stuff is gold. Like a mini-epic. What married couple can’t relate?
“Drop it!”
“You drop it!”
“We’ll both drop it at the same time! 1..2..3..”

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  • joshvanklomp

    Everbody Loves Raymond is hilarious! I hadn’t seen this clip before. Funny stuff!

  • Lydia

    I know this is going to sound way too heavy, but to unmarried people I would like to say: In any real marriage, a scene even _half_ this dramatic and full of insults would be a very bad thing and not funny at all. The thing about sit-coms is that clever insults are a lot funnier than love, patience, service, self-control, and all that other Biblical stuff. If one is a naturally loud and expressive person with a hot temper, it’s easy to think that the other person will just “understand” if one spouts off this way, but that is not really true. In marriage or even another relationship where the people involved dearly love each other and have invested their lives in each other, this sort of by-play is very hurtful and should not be indulged in because it does harm that can be difficult for the relationship to recover from. I think often younger friends and married couples believe that they have the energy or the emotional or relationship “capital” to “spend” in letting themselves go like this, but it’s foolish even then, and as one grows older one learns that one cannot afford the dubious luxury of hitting out by saying mean things to the person one loves most in the world. Criticism may be necessary, but not merely as an expression of anger and with intent to hurt.
    It was a funny clip, so I’m sorry to throw in a bit of serious marital advice, but thinking about it made me remember just how much TV sit-coms treat bad marriage behavior as fodder for humor and good marriage behavior as boring. After a while, one starts to wonder how these people can be together for this long if this is the way they treat one another.

  • Yes, that’s true. It’s sort of like the equivalent of action movies for marriages. An action film is enjoyable, but it requires suspension of disbelief. We’re supposed to just accept that the characters can navigate through these ridiculously dangerous situations so ridiculously well that they wrap up in time to be home by dinner without a scratch. Similarly, family members in a sitcom (not merely husbands and wifes but also grown children and inlaws, parents and children, etc.), can sit around insulting each other for most of the episode, only to blow it all off and head off for dinner without an (emotional) scratch. If it showed how seriously words can really wound, the show would lose its humor, and the illusion would be punctured. Just like if the bad-guys were actually able to hit anything in the action movies, our heroes would be dead in the first ten minutes.
    This clip is fairly harmless and definitely not the worst example of familial dysfunction I’ve seen in a film or show, but it plays into a larger pattern of treating it as funny. Other examples even just from this sitcom trade on that in a less harmless way. For example, a different character’s wife declares that she wants a divorce simply because she’s smarter than her husband. This is meant to be entertaining, except it’s not.
    As a postscript, I will say that most of the situations in Everybody Loves Raymond were claimed to be drawn from the writers’ own lives. It’s possible that the bathroom fight is one of them. Perhaps I should check up on Ray Romano’s marital status. If he’s divorced, we can rest our case!

  • Ah, okay, he’s not divorced, but the show is meant to be a self-deprecating self-portrait. Sort of a “Been married to the same woman for decades, but boy am I lucky she didn’t leave me long ago” kind of thing. For the real key to a good marriage, he says “Watch my show and do the exact opposite!” So for what that’s worth, that’s good.

  • joshvanklomp

    “After a while, one starts to wonder how these people can be together for this long if this is the way they treat one another.”
    I’m a 27-year old single guy, but I don’t agree with this comment. The only thing I’d say is that the back-and-forth is too drawn out and over-the-top in this scene, but I think you’d be lying if you said this never happens in marriage.
    Marriage isn’t about always agreeing with one another. My parents have been married for almost 34 years. They’ve had their fair share of arguments and disagreements over the years, but through it all they are still together because they love each other.
    This is the thing many younger couples have a problem with, and why more and more marriages are ending up in divorce. They either rushed into marriage without realizing that the love for each other isn’t mutual, or they break up because they aren’t willing to sacrifice anything for their spouse when they disagree. There has to be a give and take.
    I read a report that said over half of divorcees split up because of too much arguing. Arguments happen in any marriage, but its how you resolve those arguments that show the character of your marriage.
    In the video, they stopped arguing when the kids came into the room (not all parents will do that). Then, a silly little thing like the shower hose was able to relieve the tension and focus their energy on having fun with the kids.
    If you think marriage is only about “love, patience, service, self-control, and all that other Biblical stuff”, then I don’t blame people for seeing marriage as “boring” because I don’t think any marriage is that way. If you think your marriage is like that, I’d like to talk to your spouse and see what they have to say. Somehow, I don’t think they’d see it the same way. Every marriage has arguments, its how you deal with those arguments that determines if the marriage will last.
    Marriage is a beautiful thing, but that doesn’t make it perfect.

  • Well, that’s kind of trivially true. But I think the very over-the-top, sit-commy nature of the scene could lull people into thinking it’s no big deal in practice. When a cartoon character is flattened by a semi, you know he’s going to magically assume his regular shape again a second later. Similarly, you know this couple isn’t going to break up, because they’re the archetypal “sniping couple who still stays together” in this particular fictional universe. Now sitcoms, like cartoons, can have their place as entertainment. But it’s simply not true that “Every now and then you have to let off steam just like this, and it’s all good.” Even Ray himself knows better, else why would he tell his viewers to do the opposite of what they see on the show if they actually want a good marriage? Adults don’t in fact always act like adults, and that’s what makes the scene funny and relatable for those times couples get on each other’s nerves. But it shouldn’t be the indefinite status quo for a healthy relationship! Ideally, a pair of mature adults should be progressing and learning how NOT to act like a pair of 5-year-olds. I find it funny that you seem to agree with regarding “love, patience, service, self-control, and all that other Biblical stuff” as “boring.” As I’ve written before, this “perfection is boring” idea has got to go in our church culture. Perfection is mind-blowingly, thrillingly awesome, and even though we will never achieve it in this life, we’ll be happier the harder we work towards it.
    Now I also like how this scene ends, with the parents kind of realizing how immature they’re being in front of their kids. But one is still left with the impression that the whole thing was like a good Broadway sneeze, as the woman describes it—get it all out there, get it all out of your system, and you’ll just look back and laugh about it with no serious long-term effects to speak of. Obviously I’m not denying that it makes for funny television, but in real life, it’s not necessarily a healthy way to view marital conflict, and I think this is Lydia’s point.

  • Saved Girl

    YGG, amen. Josh, I’m sorry to hear that you are going to find Heaven so boring. Seriously, if you find snide, hurtful remarks normal and fine, then I feel sorry for your future spouse. Yes, marriages are full of disagreements but God works through them to sanctify us. And the goal of that sanctification is to make us more like Christ so we don’t have these petty arguments. I am single as well, but I know from other relationships that these kinds of things are hurtful and sinful and certainly not funny when directed at a real person. And that is not to say that I don’t find these things funny on tv, at least to a point. I never understood the draw of I Love Lucy, for example. With the husband and wife constantly fighting, you really wondered why they could “kiss and make up” at the end, since there was no real relationship between them.

  • Lydia

    Josh, wow, I think there’s something you aren’t understanding here: We’re talking about whether being deliberately insulting and mean to one’s spouse is just funny and harmless or whether it isn’t. I think you are confusing what sometimes *does* happen with what we should be aiming for and with what we should think harmless.
    I’m afraid it’s all too common in some areas of the blogosphere these days to make that confusion. Notice your comment that marriage _isn’t_ perfect, as though that contradicts what I said. And notice your rather surprisingly smart-alecky question as to whether I think married people ever argue and what my spouse would say if asked. Goodness! I made no claim of perfection *at all*. I just celebrated my 28th anniversary, and as a very flawed human being, I know very well my own imperfections, especially in the areas of temper, control of the tongue, and kindness. But as married people we should _aim_ for a I Corinthians 13 spirit in marriage. (Which is anything but boring.) We will fail again and again and again and must apologize and pick ourselves up again and again and again.
    Here’s the problem: If we think that saying something like, “I’m married to a monkey” in a hurtful tone of voice as that wife does is *merely funny* and isn’t going to harm the relationship, we’re going to fail a _lot more_ than if we are aiming to be kind to our spouses. If we think that getting into a slanging session where we just “let it all hang out” with a list of “What I hate about you” comments is acceptable behavior and can just be shrugged off, we’re setting ourselves up for extra and unnecessary marital problems. Not to mention excusing being totally un-Christlike. Of course we’re _not_ Christlike. That’s what sanctification is about. The excuse of “realism” is simply not the cure-all you think it is concerning these sorts of portrayals. The question is not whether nasty marital arguments and hurtful insults _happen_. The question is how we should evaluate them. I maintain that evaluating them as mere humor fodder is bad marital strategy.
    Let me add too that you have some seriously flawed ideas if you think (as you seemed to imply) that what makes marriage exciting and interesting is being unkind to one another and that a marriage based on biblical kindness is boring. That’s very misguided. If people think marriage *would be* boring if based on love, mutual service, patience, self-control, and other such biblical values, then those people have a real lack of imagination. As Saved Girl implies, people will not be fighting like cats and dogs in heaven, and heaven will not be boring.

  • On a lighter note, “I’m sorry I’m disgusting you while you’re sitting there cleaning your toenails with a hanger” had me giggling hard for a while. One for the “trivial last-minute questions before the wedding” list, along with “Wait, I must know if you squeeze the toothpaste from the middle!” 😀