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The Seven Deadly Sins Of Marriage

A Husband And Wife Tell All

It's been said that the seven deadly sins are wrath, greed, sloth, pride, lust, envy and gluttony. We say that these are nothing compared to the seven deadly sins ... of marriage:

1. Telling the whole truth.

She says: As Jack Nicholson said in A Few Good Men, you can't handle the truth — and neither can your spouse. I break this one all the time. No need to say everything. Really. Is it important to say, “Hey your gray hair is spreading from the back of your head to the front at an amazing pace?" I don't think so. As it turned out, it only took a year before Jeff realized his new hair pattern. I thought I was doing him a favor by pointing this out, but it made him feel he was being pursued by storm clouds — if I could do it again, I'd let him notice for himself.

He says: Agreed! I don't want to hear about my migrating gray hair just like she doesn't want to hear how I really feel about the size of her butt or her cooking skills or the ridiculous clown-like way she runs. Perhaps she can already sense all this by my facial expressions and doesn't need me to say anything more when she's wiggling into on her Spanx, standing over the stove grilling a salad or running about our backyard like Bozo on acid while being attacked by swarm of gnats. ...Read More

2. Not knowing your limits.

She says: I break this one all the time. I confuse having it all with doing it all, and in a well-intentioned flurry of caffeination I'll announce outrageously ambitious plans: I'm going to bake brownies for all of our son's teachers, assemble a 12-foot by 12-foot trampoline, refinance the house and we'll go out on a date — tonight!! Not only do I fail, I drive my husband crazy.

He says: Know you limits, or be like Annabelle and have no limits. Why stagger arranging our busy, frantic life in a relatively sane and perhaps even doable amount of time when you can schedule two business meetings, three of Ezra's doctors appointments, a hair coloring, taking our cat to the vet and a couple's therapy session all on the same day our Glo article is due, right Annabelle?

3. Giving your spouse an ultimatum.

He says: The proclamation “I swear I'll leave you if you won't have sex with me more than once a week,” saw me not only not following through on my threat, but the loss of sexual privileges for a full month. We only resumed our singular weekly union because of weeks of apologies, begging and promises that I'd never give her a more-sex-or-I'm-out-of-here ultimatum ever again. So don't, don't give ultimatums, they never work and usually just blow up in your face.

She says: Ok, here's one point I can agree with Jeff on. The irony is that the kinds of ultimatums I issue are even more dangerous than Jeff's. Mine typically are aspirational goals such as: I'm going to do better and hereby swear not to burp or fart in front of you ever again. Not kidding, and — as soon as I said that — I sneezed so hard I farted and as I was trying to get out an embarrassed apology, I burped. So, never say never in marriage. ...

4. Comparing your spouse to wildly successful peers or old flames.

She says: Everyone is somehow, even tangentially, connected to someone who has hit the jackpot: bought stock in Starbucks before it went public, founded Google or happened to buy the right property at the right time. Or like me, dated Mr. Big from Sex and the City. Don't bring those people up without mentioning, “Well, at least you've done better than say, my old boyfriend who invested the last 15 years trying to market a hands-free toothbrush and now lives in his mom's basement.” Conversely, Jeff dated several former models, all are over 5'10", a life goal that I can never reach. As they say, "compare and despair" — your spouse doesn't need to be reminded of how he stacks up and neither do you.

He says: Not sure how much “comparing your spouse” is a mutual martial sin or just Annabelle's cross to bear. She's the one with all the successful and famous ex-boyfriends and I'm the one with all the peers who are now crazily-over-the-top-successful-famous and extraordinarily wealthy. Yes, it's true that some of her contemporaries have eclipsed Annabelle's acting career, but it's not like she started out doing stand-up comedy with some guy named Ben Stiller. Have you heard of him? True, I dated some very pretty tall models back when I was in my 20s, but how am I going to compare them to Annabelle? (“Hey, you're slightly shorter than some girls I used to date twenty years ago.”) Let's face it, of the two of us, I'm the one who married up the status bracket, not Annabelle.

5. Judge not lest ye be judged!

He says: We are both so bad at this martial sin that we set the indoor judgmental record last year. Married couples, like most people, are full of personal flaws, faults and emotional baggage, we're all conflicted, contradictory, complicated, often needy, irrational, insecure, idiosyncratic, impatient and, in my case, bad at math, so no one spouse really has any right to judge the other. The fact that we do all the time just makes us defensive, angry and judgmental right back at-cha. Yeah, I suck at understanding our month financial statements and Annabelle hasn't changed the cat litter since 1994, but better to try to forgive and forget.

She says: Being judgmental is one of our favorite hobbies, but forgiving each other is perhaps the most important quality to foster in life. I suck at it, so I suggest a trade off: How about directing all the judgmental-ness outside the marriage at safe targets … like at our neighbors who for the past 18 months have been renovating their front yard to look like a water theme park. We love raging at the Raging Waters across the street. The sound of the construction means they can't hear us, so no harm/no foul.

6. Making marriage a competition.

He says: In life I'm for competition, be it in business or sports, but in marriage … I mean, what do you win by competing against your spouse? I tell you what, a trophy for pissing them off. That said, Annabelle and I have a vast collection of those trophies. We compete at everything. Who does more housework? Me. Who makes more money? Annabelle. Who spends more time caring and being with our son? Still fighting that one out. It's terrible and we really should stop, but the one who stops first will lose and that ain't going to be me, baby!

She says: When Jeff and I married I swore I wasn't a competitive person, but there's nothing like marriage to reveal your true nature. I think there's such a thing as healthy competition. For instance, the other day, as I tried to assemble that 12-foot by 12-foot trampoline in our backyard, I was about to quit when Jeff yelled out the back door, “Give it up, it's too hard!” Sure, I couldn't move for two days after, but knowing that I beat Jeff's expectation of me made it worth it. And it's so much fun to remember my victory when our kid and I are jumping on the awesome trampoline I built all by myself.

7. Engaging in boudoir chitchat.

He says: Once the pants are off and the genitals out, making small talk about grocery sale prices, summer camps, carpools, what so-and-so said at such-and-such a party, trying to recall the name of some movie you both saw earlier that year and how much money you plan to put in your pension account is officially over. Muzzle it! There has got to be one place where you can escape the petty, daily grind of domesticity and get down to some serious action.

She says: I like the chitchat. Ok, I can understand that perhaps some subjects should be off-limits in bed like: who is picking up the carpool later or the state of our 401Ks, but we're busy all day long and when else do we have time to talk? Maybe there should be a compromise, like a ratio of talk-to-action that can be negotiated. Something like: I'll trade you five minutes of “fun” for five minutes to go over our of summer camp plans for our son. Come on people, let's get creative!

SHOP NOW: You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up: A Love Story by Annabelle Gurwitch and Jeff Kahn, $24


  • Marriage: Not for the faint of heart.

The Seven Deadly Sins Of Marriage
A Husband And Wife Tell All
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