I know I promised this today…so here it is. (The other full version died on my laptop, but I may not be able to recover it until Tuesday.)

The Golfing Dilemma Question arose from a conversation I had with a married friend about the politics of the marriage relationship. I am always interested to learn about this, because I never knew such a concept existed until a few years ago, maybe I am a little naive. The question is designed not to gather a solution, but to measure a person’s reasoning skills. It is now a chapter in my clutter book called The Heart of the Matter- which is a technique to cut through all the little details and miscommunications to quickly resolve concerns by identifying the key variable of the issue at hand.

Without going into too much detail, the cause of the friction is NOT:

– Time Dad is gone- It remains the same in both cases
– Relief of Mom- This is consistent in both cases, she was happy under one example and now isn’t in the other, but the amount of relief she has by Dad has also remained constant.
-Lack of Income- No…income has increased.
-Happiness of Dad- If Dad was as happy in his cubicle as he was on the Golf Course, it is unlikely there would be new friction. Both parties would remain happy, therefore his happiness on the Golf Course is not the cause.
-Suffering of the Mom- also constant, just never ending. Her problems or sacrifices with the children have not increased.
-The Fact that Dad isn’t actually working- Nope…but this is a tricky one and leads us to the answer. If Dad was commuting 49 hours a week, working one…Mom probably wouldnt have a problem with this, as it would be the same schedule as the first situation. (Which to me doesnt make any sense at all…its ok to travel 49 hours a week instead of not golfing 49 hours a week?)

All the other variables are constant, the friction is caused in the idea that:

– Golf Is not required for the new business.

I love to ask couples this question to hear their responses. I asked Jill and Stephen and it was interesting for Stephen to argue on behalf of the Mom and Jill on behalf of the Dad…”As long as he would bring me along occasionally…” lol- it was so sweet.

Other times, as soon as I say the word Golf, I am attacked before I even ask any questions….and yes it is designed to provoke a little emotion on behalf of Mom, who is clearly being taken advantage of. Still…I am more interested in the reasoning skills of those I ask and the dynamics of the discussion if their significant other is present. It changes completely from couple to couple, and really depends on what their goals in life are, as someone mentioned in the responses.

What I personally believe:

I once worked in the lab from hell. My professor insisted that I spend 14-16 hours a day in the lab working, and even if my work was done, I needed to remain there reading articles, cleaning, etc. Time spent in the lab was more important than how that time was spent. There was something about this that made me uncomfortable. I was confident that with ingenuity and creative thinking I could get more done for less….but under this system, it would never be rewarded.

I believe that creative thinking should be encouraged and rewarded.

If one were to reason with pure logic, the only thing that has changed is how the Dad spends his work week and it shouldn’t matter. However, I believe that a marriage is a team relationship, and while Dad has made life better for himself, he should consider ways to share this with his family as well. The one exception is if there is any basis that the golf is part of his new business in terms of networking, research or even helping him come up with new ideas…then he may have a point.

On the other hand, Dad needs to feel rewarded for his efforts, otherwise his creative thinking skills will shut down. This is something that I saw in Russia under the communist mind set, that creative thinking and capitalism are bad, and everyone should prosper or suffer equally. If Dad felt his golfing was creating too much tension, then a return to the cubicle “logically” would restore happiness to both parties, but it most likely wouldnt…both would now be less happy……strange…..no? Happiness in one situation can change by a taste of something else.

There are a number of really weird variables that seem to change the feel (emotion) of the debate, but really dont (logic). For example- What if Dad was now a famous celebrity? What if Mom won the lottery? What if instead of playing Golf, Dad decided it would be better to stay at the new office (or lab)….”just because” and he was staring at the wall 49 hours a week? What if Dad asked for permission to do this BEFORE he started the new business? The list goes on and on….but the situation is really the same in all cases.

If I was married to an individual that thought like this, I think the best thing to do would be to encourage it- if someone so brilliant can come up with such an idea, they probably have more floating around, and asking for help on a solution with the children would be better than simply asking (or demanding) more help around the house.

The most common solution offered (which I never ask for BTW) is that there should be a compromise and Dad should spend more time at home with the family, while still spending some time to play golf. I do think that Dad should find a way to spend more time with his family if he has it, but I also believe it is better for Dad to be playing golf as much as he is, than to be in a cubicle or driving 50 hours a week. If its an all or nothing question, Golf or work, I would absolutely say GOLF.

I know some people dont agree with me, but then again…Im no longer working in a lab…..;)