The Trial Separation

Recently a friend told me that he and his wife are having problems and are now having a trial separation. Whenever someone who’s been married for a while hears about somebody else calling it quits, it makes them pause and daydream and even get a little giddy. Not me but other people. I tend to take a more analytical approach.

Let’s start by looking at the phrase ‘trial separation’. The first word is ‘trial’. I know that can be interpreted as ‘attempt’ as in ‘trial and error’ but from my experience a ‘trial’ involves a judge and a prosecutor who know what they’re doing and have done it many times before. So in this case I would say ‘trial’ means ‘formality’. We already know the verdict.

The second word is ‘separation’ which was first made popular by the WonderBra corporation. It means to divide into two different and independent parts. When it refers to people, it means that these people are no longer together, geographically or otherwise, and the ‘otherwise’ is the big part. Because if you think about it, most couples are separated geographically most of the time. They go to work or play different sports or go shopping or take business trips or even holidays apart. Sometimes when they’re together geographically, they’re not really together. Like when they’re watching television or eating dinner without talking or just staring blankly off into space.

Every time any of those things happens, the couple is having a mini trial separation. Is that a bad thing? I say no. Most of us love our wives or husbands but once in a while when we come home we’re hoping they’re not there. Not forever but just for an hour or two so we can relax and kick back and come up with a credible explanation as to why the lid of the barbecue is in the neighbour’s tree. With these kinds of separations, we’re planning to get back together in the long run. In a trial separation, there is no long run and at least one of you is never planning to get back together.

Sometimes a couple will live together for a while before they get married. Like a rehearsal for being married. Whereas a trial separation is a rehearsal for being divorced. I’ve heard that odd things can happen in a trial separation. Like both people change their minds. The person who wanted it discovers they hate it while the person who didn’t want it has moved on. That’s because of a common mistake people make in relationships and in life – it’s called bluffing. In my opinion, bluffing does not work. It’s like good luck – it’s great when it happens but it shouldn’t be a big part of your plan. People who bluff almost always lose. Even in that song The Gambler, the poker expert who knew when to hold ‘em and when to fold ‘em, ended up bumming cigarettes on a train.

The advice I would give any married couple if I was ever asked which I haven’t been so far, is that you need to find that sweet spot for yourself that puts you between being a martyr and being a self-centred AH. (see an earlier blog). If you’re a martyr who stays in a one-sided relationship because you think it makes you saintly or God will reward you or you don’t deserve any better, you will hate yourself and never laugh or even smile at things that are really really funny. On the other hand if all you think about is yourself, that will eventually be your only friend and you will be denying your basic need to have social interaction and will end up very lonely and with an STD.

The trick is to be somewhere in the middle. Where the relationship works for your partner but also works for you. If you’ve got that, keep finding ways to make it work. If you don’t, get out and save yourself while they’re still enough of you to save.

I feel I should end with a joke so here’s one. Three Irishmen walked out of a bar. It could happen.

The Dangers Of Golf

There are several good things about the game of golf. It’s a great way to meet people and make friends. It’s good for old guys because it fools them into thinking they’re not useless. It’s also good for old women because it gets old guys out of the house for most of the day. It’s good for fat guys because they’re nowhere near the fridge. It’s good for drunks because you can only get so much beer into a golf bag. At most golf clubs there is a dress code so guys have to wear nicer clothes than the ones they sleep in. It lets you drive a golf cart even when your license is suspended. It cuts into your disposable income to the point where you can’t afford to buy firearms.

But all in all, the game of golf is evil.

Hardly anybody is any good at it. And the ones who are need to be born that way. Despite what the golf pros tell you about taking lessons and practicing, they can’t make you good, they can only make you less embarrassing. True natural golfers are like albinos. They’re rare and they’re obvious. So unless you’re one of the chosen few, golf will only be a source of frustration for you. Not all the time. Just most of the time. They don’t tell you that so I felt I should.

Golf will make you angry. Some of you will throw your clubs or break them over your knee or strip naked and run down the middle of the fairway screaming at the top of your lungs. (That’s gonna take a lot of sunblock) In time, you will eventually learn to control your anger. Your golfing buddies will commiserate with you because they know what you’re going through. That’s all nice and everything but it doesn’t change the fact that you’re angry. Why would you continue to do something that makes you angry?

Golf will make you feel bad about yourself. You’re a reasonably athletic person. You have a functioning mind, capable of understanding the physics and logic behind the golf swing. Why can’t you do it on a consistent basis? The pro says you need to practice more but you know down deep inside that you will never be any good at this. And it diminishes your self-image. Especially when that big fat idiot at your club beats you every time you play him.

Most human bodies, and especially yours, is physically incapable of executing a successful golf swing on a regular basis. To hit a baseball, you have to swing the bat on a horizontal plane. To hit a croquet, ball you have to swing the mallet on a vertical plane. To hit a golf ball, you have to swing the club on a horizontal AND a vertical plane, simultaneously. That’s like doing a quadruple saukau, every five minutes. Only an albino can do that. Golf is asking you to do something for which you are totally unsuited.

Golf is a huge waste of time. You get there a half hour early so you have time to warm up. The game itself takes at least four hours. Then you have a couple of drinks to ease the pain. That’s six hours out of your day. When you’re a young man with a family, you don’t have that kind of time. And when you’re an old guy who’s running out of time, is this how you want to spend it? The point of our lives here in Earth is to make something better for somebody – even if it’s just ourselves. Whose life got better from you playing golf? Just the guy you lost to but that won’t last. He’ll lose to somebody else tomorrow.

Golf is a con. The golf industry knows that you would welcome any opportunity to blame your poor play on some outside element. You don’t have the best clubs or golf balls or shoes or golf glove or bag or tees or hats or shorts or underwear. They’re happy to sell you all of those. And they’re not cheap. They don’t have to be. The golf equipment companies don’t think of you as a customer – to them, you are an addict. And that brand new driver with the melon-sized head and kryptonite shaft is the only thing between you and your potential. And what about all the golf training gear? The swing analyzer, the big hoopy thing, the practice club with the universal joints, the shaft with the ten pound weight on the end. They want you to think that if you train hard enough with their miracle tool, one day you will be an albino. Not gonna happen.

Golf is expensive. The annual cost for each member of a private golf club is around $10,000. If you join a club at the age of 30 and play until you’re 80, you’ll have spent a half million dollars on golf. Wouldn’t it have been better to pay off your mortgage or put your kids through college or bought your wife more shoes?

Golf takes up a lot of space. Augusta National Golf Course is on 345 acres. That’s over 300 football fields. An NFL football game seats 100,000 fans. The Masters gets only 30,000 and they don’t even get to sit down. The stadium is so big, they have to walk all over the course to see the game.

Golf is tough on the environment. Think of the tons of chemicals they put on a golf course that the rain then washes into the rivers and streams. And the golfers are no better. Doing random excavation work, one divot at a time. They hit so many golf balls into our lakes and ponds, they look like fish hatcheries.

Golf is an insult. We all have our faults and our shortcomings. We’re not proud of them. We try to correct them but at the very least, we work hard to keep them private. Golf doesn’t allow that. Instead they have what’s called the ‘handicap’. On the surface, it looks like an attempt by the golf directors to level the playing field so that all members can compete with each other and have an equal chance of winning. But in reality, it’s a horrible message that promotes profiling, discrimination and, in many cases, fraud. It’s a multi-step process. You start with a bad golfer. Let’s say he has a 24 handicap. The last thing he wants is to tell anybody that but sadly, it’s the first thing other golfers ask. In many golf clubs it’s available on the computer for all to see. Oh sure for a while he tries to get the number down. He tries playing more and if he has a really bad score, he won’t even turn it in. So maybe his handicap creeps down to 18. He’s proud of himself but he loses every golf tournament he’s in because his handicap has been artificially lowered. Eventually he gets tired of being a loser and goes to the dark side. He starts playing really badly in his daily games and only enters the worst scores into the computer. Soon his handicap is 36. The other golfers point and laugh until he starts winning everything. Then the ‘sandbagger’ accusations start. So most of us have two choices in golf – be an honest loser or a cheating winner. Too close to call.

Instead, find something you’re good at, that brings you joy, and do that. I’m going to start right after my next round.