I hate the way your cook cooks

They say most married couples’ fights start over money. I don’t believe it. Didn’t Cher have a weeklong marriage once? Was there even time to fight about money. Lisa Marie Presley was married to Nick Cage for a few months, but she was married to Michael Jackson for almost two years. It’s hard to believe that Lisa Marie and Michael ever fought about money, unless it was, “Why don’t we have more?”

Wasn’t Britney Spears married for a whole afternoon a few years ago? What could that happy couple have fought about in a single afternoon? Money?

“Honey, where’s my wallet? I left it right here. It had $5 million in it and that fake ID I use to buy beer at the convenience store.”

“How should I know? What do I look like, a CSI? I want a divorce.”

I think the collapse of these minute marriages are caused by a disease I call Snow White Disorder (SWD), which is the delusion that normal, rational people have: thinking all their problems will disappear once they marry Prince Charming or Snow White. Suddenly, their boss will be nice to them; suddenly, they’ll get along with every member of their family; suddenly, network TV will get better; suddenly they will lose weight; suddenly, their hair will stop thinning.

None of these things will happen.

Some celebrity marriages last for weeks or even months. Even in these “long-term” relationships, I doubt they fight about money. It’s more likely: “You left the jet a mess the last time you used it” or that she doesn’t like the way he leaves the gold-plated toilet seat up. She nags him about leaving his Saville Row suits on the floor where he dropped them? He hates the way her cook cooks.

Regular, non-rich married couples fight about plenty of things other than money. Did you tell Junior he could wear gang colors? She’s your daughter, can’t you do something? Can’t you get the next-door neighbor’s dog to shut up? Do I look like a dogcatcher? “When I think of the people I passed up to marry you.” You get the drift. Most fights are not about money.

There was a couple who won $400 million in a lottery a few years ago. It was one of those wonderful stories, where people could really use the money and they were still young enough to enjoy it. I don’t remember the exact details, but it went something like this: They had a bitter divorce and died broke, drunk and friendless within a span of 10 years. What luck!

The last fight Sue and I had was over furniture, not money. I told her I wanted to get a recliner. You’d have thought I said “I want to put a port-a-potty on the front lawn.”

“We don’t have room,” she said.

“We have plenty of room for all your stuff,” I said.

“Our stuff.”

“Excuse me, our stuff. But it’s not like I want to put the recliner in our sewing room or in our potting shed. I want to put it in our living room so I can read our books without killing our back.”

Of course, I didn’t say any of this out loud. I am not a complete fool. Instead I did the mature thing. I complained about my back constantly. Every time we sat down to watch television, I would squirm and fidget and go get some pillows to prop up my back while making whimpering noises as I moved.

Sure enough, after several months of this, she bought me a recliner. One that she picked out and didn’t stick out like a sore thumb in our living room.

“This is so comfortable,” I said.

She mumbled something like, “When I think of all the guys I passed up ...”

Jim Mullen is the author of “It Takes a Village Idiot: Complicating the Simple Life” and “Baby’s First Tattoo.” You can reach him at jim_mullen@myway.com

Copyright 2008, Newspaper Enterprise Assn.

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