Pop Rocks: How The Marriage Ref Almost Ruined My Marriage

My wife and I have been married for almost 14 years. In that time, we've had to come to a certain...understanding about each others' tastes.

We agree mostly on the big stuff, like politics (pinko), finances (slightly more free-spending than Ebenezer Scrooge), and child-rearing (sleep in a drawer and three squares of gruel a day). There's more to it (obviously), but that pretty well covers areas where a lot of couples have their biggest problems. And I always figured as long as we agreed on things like letting our kids learn about the birds and the bees from the creepy neighbor kid, everything else would just fall into place.

How wrong I was.

Music, for one thing, has always been a particular sticking point, mostly because The Wife almost exclusively listens to folk music of the "women in comfortable shoes" variety, while I like...just about everything else. To be fair, she's broadened her horizons to include the likes of Ryan Adams and Townes Van Zandt (mostly because of that one Nanci Griffith song), but long car rides are still the modern-day auditory equivalent of Bull Run (First, not Second).

We're a little closer on movies, though she's never going to sit through a Takashi Miike retrospective with me, and I'd rather pour bleach on my eyeballs than watch another Nicholas Sparks adaptation. Still, we both like comedies, thrillers, and classics like The Thin Man and...Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

No, where the machine really starts to break down -- as Sgt. Barnes might say -- is in the television department.

I don't watch *a lot* of TV, though I'm aware that such as invention exists. And while The Wife and I have found common ground between her crime procedurals and my obsession with COPS by watching Anthony Bourdain and Supernatural together, The Marriage Ref exposed a side of my better half I never knew. Not that she disliked Madonna or loved Ricky Gervais (because really, who doesn't agree on both of those?), but that she likes...Larry David.

Here I am, coming home from some errand last Sunday, only to find my spouse -- the same woman who would roll her eyes at just about every episode of Seinfeld and bark an emphatic 'No!' whenever I'd allow the remote to linger over a rerun of Curb Your Enthusiasm -- cackling like a madwoman at every one of David's emphatically anti-female, anti-marriage diatribes.

Don't get me wrong, all of these people are deserving of scorn, and none are clinically deranged; not the woman who dresses her five-foot iguana in Santa hats nor the one who keeps her ex-husband's prosthetic leg in a closet...all are merely cartoonish exaggerations of normal marriage problems (substitute a cat for an iguana or a salacious photo for the leg).

No, it's the Seinfeld-ian betrayal of my previously rock solid marital beliefs that makes me question the core tenets of my relationship. What other allegedly distasteful things could my wife be hiding from me? A secret love of pro wrestling? Six fingers on her right hand? A sister with the surname "Kardashian?" It doesn't matter, I'll simply try to pick up the pieces and move on. For the sake of my children, I'll say no more of this.

Aside from constantly muttering "Newman!" under my breath, that is.

KEEP THE HOUSTON PRESS FREE... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Peter Vonder Haar writes movie reviews for the Houston Press and the occasional book. The first three novels in the "Clarke & Clarke Mysteries" - Lucky Town, Point Blank, and Empty Sky - are out now.
Contact: Pete Vonder Haar