Name Calling is a Relationship Deal Breaker

With 42 years of marriage, we’ve gone through some rough spots.  But some things actually started out at the front of the line. One incredibly important deal-breaker was name calling.  My sweet easy-going (not necessarily easy to get along with) husband came with only 2 requirements:

  1. If at all possible that we get custody of his 2 children (8 & 13) and
  2. No name-calling—not in a joke, not in a double-entendre, not in a clearly sarcastic remark, not ever.  It’s the only time I saw that flash of “Don’t mess with me or I’m outta here —now.”  He meant business!

I came from the heart of sarcasm land. My mother would say the most outrageous thing in complete seriousness until I got completely hysterical and then announce she was kidding – and not a moment before my hysteria.  She told my brother to call me Fatty, because she thought it would motivate me to lose weight.  I am serious.

And she loved me.  True, she wasn’t mature in every area of her life.

So not saying a funny, sarcastic, but insulting name as a joke was really hard for me.  I would declare, “Oh for heaven’s sake, you’re brilliant, Nathan. Clearly I’m only kidding when I call you ‘Stupid’.”  Apparently, he didn’t get it.

He would have left. I know it. I think of that every time someone says,”how phlegmatic he is.  Just don’t hit up against one of his boundaries.

I do have a special secret for getting what I want.

1. Don’t want what he can’t give.

Treat him with decency, respect, and good humor. That is sheer magic.

That is the dance of the imperfect spouses—and the song has no bad names in it.

(We could never write a popular song without “bitches and ho’s”  Where are the men’s bad names?? )

Friend me, Merle Singer, on

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