| || || | A lady golf champion, Annika Sorenstam, once confided: "I used to play chess with my husband but he beat me, so we don't play any more because we can't find all the pieces."
Which rather sums up the spite and malice that can creep into any competitive activity involving husbands and wives.
Ms Sorenstam's remark jumped into my mind when a neighbour walking her dog explained her brisk pace by saying that she and her husband were playing in a mixed foursomes that morning.
I must have looked askance because the lady nodded knowingly and said: "I know. I know."
I was unaware that my askance was showing but it obviously was. Folk myths have grown up around mixed foursomes.
Like the one about the irate husband who kept up sniping criticisms of his wife's play throughout the match.
After hitting an excellent drive, he snapped: "Wherever you put that ball, I will put it on the green."
"Really," she said, turning around and hitting her best shot of the day right back to the tee. I have heard that story about several golf clubs but even folk myths can sometimes carry a truth that transcends mere facts. It has been my experience that husbands and wives should avoid any activity that puts them on the same team or pits them against each other. It is not conducive to domestic harmony. Scrabble, gin rummy, Ludo can all lead to friction that involves separate sleeping arrangements.
Just after we were married, Daph and I lived in London for a while and got friendly with a young couple in the upstairs flat, the O'Malleys.
They joined us one evening for a harmless game of Monopoly. Harmless that is until Mrs O'Malley landed on a property ‘owned' by her husband that had three hotels on it.
She became incensed that he should take away all her funny money after all they'd been to each other.
Sometime during the game, the fake money had become real to the woman and there was no way she was giving it to this ungrateful brute.
The game ended in bitter recriminations, although not as homicidally as an acrimonious game of Bridge once in the United States where a wife shot her husband dead for calling her a ‘bum Bridge player'. A sharp lawyer not only got her off but she collected his life insurance as a bonus.
Daph, when the mood takes her, can be keenly competitive, even over something as straight forward as a jigsaw puzzle. If a piece refuses to fit where she believes it should, she has been known to hammer it until it does.
When his wife asks him "Do these jeans make my bum look big?" it is a foolish man who replies: "No dear. It isn't the jeans."
Every now and then a little story comes along that restores your lack of faith in human nature. Just as train wrecks attract looters to rob the dead, floods can also bring out lowlifes who have all the charm of a burst sewer pipe.
A pensioner and his two elderly sisters were in a Renault Laguna that got stuck in floodwater on the Stewartstown Road, Dunmurry, when two young men came to their ‘assistance'.
And after getting the car out of the water onto dry road, the men then stole the car and left the old folk stranded in the downpour. Their mothers must be so proud of them.
SAD BUT TRUISM
You know you're getting old when you decline to have birthday candles in case it looks too much like a torchlight procession.
Sad to hear of the death of Lita Roza, one of the great British big band singers of the 1950s. When I was at school, I used to practice my shorthand, taking down the lyrics of her songs, like Allenstown Jail on the radio.
It was how I worked my speed up from ballads to up tempo numbers to taking down speeches. And having the lovely Lita Roza singing at you was a pretty cool way to do your homework.
Husbands, Wives and Business
It can be a real challenge having to deal with a partner in business. It can be even tougher when that partner is your spouse. The result can be pure craziness or business bliss — depending on whether you take the time to carefully structure your business relationship. Still, husband/wife teams have proven to be a winning combination for millions of small businesses. During the 1980s, the number of businesses run by married couples increased more than 90 percent, according to the Small Business Administration. These weren't just mom & pop shops, either. In 1995, a full one third of the fastest growing private companies on the Inc. 500 list were owned and operated by husband and wife teams.
There Are Distinct Drawbacks
Companies can be torn apart if the unique relationship between husband and wife partnerships takes an ugly turn. The most obvious: misunderstandings can bring marital troubles from home into the business, eventually resulting in failure and the loss of jobs and money. Worse, the business can (in fact, generally does) become a pawn in divorce settlements. That's because it's often the single greatest asset in the marriage. In this respect, working together can be a detriment to both the business and to the marriage.
And Distinct Benefits
Still, the benefits can far outweigh the potential disadvantages. Couples who know how to work closely together share a unique dedication and loyalty to their business's success. And let's face it, it's also fun to be able to work shoulder to shoulder every day with your life partner in a common purpose. That's why, best of all, husbands and wives who are successful in business together tend to enjoy peace and harmony in their personal lives as well.
If you're part of a husband and wife business partnership, here are a few suggestions to help ensure that both the business and the marriage continue to prosper.
Divvy up responsibilities. Maintain clear and separate areas of responsibility. If necessary, write down job descriptions. Then leave each other alone to do his or her job. Perhaps she heads up marketing and sales, while he focuses on product development. This division of labor is crucial for maintaining the working relationship. Other wise you will literally be stepping all over each other. It will only be a matter of time before problems develop, resentments build. Sure, you love to be together, but too much of a good thing can make you miserable and drive you apart.
Keep your personal lives out of the conference room. Conduct yourselves professionally at all times while on 'company time.' Public displays of affection, personal conversations or other signs of intimacy can embarrass or alienate other workers. Worse, they can disrupt the smooth flow of business. It should be possible for strangers to walk into your company and, based on your actions and conduct towards one another, not know that you have a relationship outside the business.
Keep business out of the bedroom, or anywhere else in the house, for that matter. Many spouse teams are so busy all day that they don't have much time to talk about business. So, they take half an hour or so after hours to catch up, unwind together and make the transition from business partners to marriage partners. Then they put business away for the day. The idea is to strike a healthy balance between your business life and your personal life.
Get away with each other. Plan work-free vacations and get-away weekends so you don't ever forget that you're much more than business partners.
Get away from each other. It's unrealistic to believe that you can be side by side 24 hours a day and still maintain a healthy outlook and attitude. Develop outside interests in things that belong strictly to you.
Capitalize on the benefits of being in business together. Maybe one of you works just 20 hours a week or splits hours between home and the office or shop. The point is that you have the luxury or setting your own hours and planning your own schedules. Reminder: make sure all schedule changes are part of a well thought-out plan. Otherwise, work days run the risk of becoming too casual.
Protect your partner's investment in you. If you die or become disabled, how will your partner continue? Your needs are unique, unlike those for other business owners. Develop contingency plans to protect you both in the event of death, divorce or planned retirement. Meet with your attorney to develop written contingency plans.
Illustration from Clyde Mendes column at MetroSexual LA