Getting along requires compromise

Because my husband John Pitts & I hold differing political views and vote for opposing candidates, many folks wonder how we make our marriage work. (Actually, those questions usually are directed to my husband in the form of “How in the world does Cathy put up with you?”)

Today, on an Election Day that’s responsible for, I bet, millions of other families in the same situation these past months, I thought I’d share a thoughtful analysis of a typical reasoned & logical & courteous exchange between my husband & me in hopes it may inspire others.

Totally kidding. We never have reasoned & logical exchanges.

But we do have conversations like this:

Me: Hey, sweetie, didn’t you say you put that box in my car as I asked you to?
JP: Yup, I sure did. Why?
Me: Because it’s not there.
JP: Sure it is.
Me: No, it’s not.
JP: Yes, it is.
Me: Sweetie, I saw this with love & respect, but that box is not in the back of my car. At all. Not. There.
JP: What are you talking about? I put it exactly where you asked me to.
Me: You put it in the back of the car?
JP: Of course.
Me: Well, it’s not there–unless you magicked it with a Cloak of Invisibility.
[Momentary silence as we mutually head out of the kitchen & into the garage. I stop midway at the back-seat door of my CVR, preparing to open it & prove the non-existence of the disputed box. John Pitts, however, continues his march to the back of the car, opens the rear cargo door & triumphantly points inside.]
JP: See? It’s right here.
Me, confused: But that’s not the back.
JP: What are you talking about? Of course it’s the back.
Me, still confused but gesturing to the correct location–the back seat: No, that is not the back. This is the back. That’s the way-back.
JP, looking as if he wished he had his own Cloak of Invisibility: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Me, speaking slowly & clearly: That. Is. Not. The. Back. That. Is. The. Way. Back.
JP, now looking a bit dazed: I literally have never heard you call this the ‘way-back’.
Me, considering but ultimately discarding–in the interest of civility–a comment referencing the number of times I say things proportionate to the number of times he hears me say the things: Hmm … well, that’s what it’s called. We’ve always called it the ‘way-back’.
Me: Besides, why would I want the box in the way-back? I’ll never remember to drop it off at the donation center if it’s [pausing for emphasis] way back there.
JP, doing a remarkable job of remaining calm: Would you like me to move it to the back seat for you?
Me: Oh, that would be lovely. Thank you so much.

And that’s how we negotiate our conflicts to a mutually satisfying conclusion: He knows I’m correct but won’t admit it but it’s OK because I know that he knows that I’m the winner.

Happy Election Day!

The Last Sausage Ball

(Photo by Mary Carton, Tuscumbia, Ala.)

You know how when you and your husband go to a party and you’re, like, “Oh, this food looks so good but I can’t eat it all so would you split a plate with me and we can share everything?” and your husband’s like, “Sure, sweetie. Whatever you want” although he’s remembering the time you said you didn’t like hot wings and then you ate the whole basket but a party is different because you want to taste a little of everything so you take the plate and fill it up with things you know you’ll like and things you’ll know he’ll like and then you’re working your way around the plate and you come to a sausage ball and you break it in half and eat your half and it’s really really good but because he’s busy eating the pork tenderloin slider he can’t eat his half of the sausage ball and it was so good that you really want him to have a whole one, you tell him, so you quickly eat the remaining half and then go back to the table only to find NO MORE SAUSAGE BALLS and then your husband realizes YOU HAVE EATEN THE LAST SAUSAGE BALL right in front of him? This is what that moment looks like.

My Friend Bob Writes His Book!

When my looooongtime friend (and Aug. 2 birthday sister) Melissa met and then married a wonderful man named Bob Thomas, we all approved. He was then and is now caring, intelligent, supportive, strong and funny.  He has a strong Christian faith and is absolutely and totally committed to his family. Through the years, we’ve all at one time or another had the same thought: “Gee, Bob, the things you’re saying are so wise and thoughtful. You really should write a book.” He must have read our minds because this year he finally did it. I’m telling you, you need multiple copies of this handy little self-published gem so you can give them to those men in your life who 1) need a friendly nudge, 2) need to be disabused of the notion that marriage is all about THEM or 3) need nothing at all except a “Thank you for being such a great guy.” Bob covers everything you need to know on the subject of marriage, from sex (“Clipping your toenails in bed is not good foreplay.”) to starting a family (“Never leave Wal-Mart without diapers. Don’t bother calling home to see if you need them — just buy diapers.”) to simply getting along  (“Women are required to use a set number of words in a day. If it is bedtime and your wife has not used up all her words for that day, just lie back and listen intently.”). It’s all gold, believe me.  And as funny as Bob is, he backs it up with authority … Biblical authority, that is. He connects everything he says with Scripture. But he does it the way that he lives his life: As a quiet but powerful testimony of faith and love. Plus, he shows great wisdom in recognizing (free and no-cost) editing talent.  But I get no financial gain whatsoever from sales — except if Melissa and Bob get more money, then we girls can go out to lunch more often — so it’s entirely OK for me to demand you buy many copies of this book. You will love it. Email Tell him his editor sent you.


Okay, everybody out there who sleeps with a snorer, raise your hands. Just as I thought: A lot of you all know what I’m talking about here. Oh, I love my husband deeply and he’s a great guy and where would I be without him? But he snores. And here’s the thing: He sort of knows he snores. He’ll snore and I’ll wake up and then he’ll wake up and ask me if he was snoring and I’ll say “yes” and he’ll say “sorry” and then he’ll immediately go back to sleep and … start snoring again. At home this is not a problem since there are other sleeping spots to choose from. And when we’re on the road we usually try to get those two-room suites with a couch. But sometimes in some situations there’s nowhere to go. A couple of weeks ago that’s exactly what had happened: It was 2 a.m. and we had a long and tiring day ahead of us (my husband actually had two long and tiring days ahead of him) and we had one bed in one room. Luckily, I came up with a creative solution. Sort of, at least. Read my weekly newspaper column at to find out what it was and tell me what you think.


Okay, here’s a puzzle to get your brain going this rainy Monday morning. A friend of mine and her husband recently went to a paint-it-yourself studio and had a wonderful time. My friend claims that neither she nor her husband are artistic but they had so much fun learning how to create these paintings. Here’s the puzzle: Can you guess which one my friend did and which one her husband did? She says that everybody who knows them can instantly identify the correct paintings, but I’m not so sure it’s immediately apparent who did which. Here are some clues: My friend is a pharmacist and businesswoman whose style can best be described as casual and relaxed. Does that help? Also, one of these paintings is titled “Plain Simple” and the other “Extreme Normal.” No prizes — just the satisfaction of knowing you’re intuitive and smart. Good job!


When my husband John Pitts — who is a super writer and the best editor I know — and I recently celebrated our fifth wedding anniversary, I wrote about it in my weekly newspaper column and asked my husband to talk about the five things he’s learned in five years of marriage. He did, it got great response and I was tickled that I had tricked my husband into writing my column for me my husband so kindly wrote my column for me that week. However, most people noticed that he,in fact, had written it and so wondered why I was so lazy and where my five things were. So here they are:

But, seriously, the main thing I’ve learned in five years of marriage is something I couldn’t quite articulate in my column without seeming to be critical of my first husband, which I’ve vowed never to do in (newspaper) print. What is that lesson? It’s something I struggled with for years: Saying exactly what I mean and trusting that it’s going to be OK. In my first marriage, I picked up the bad habit of being passive-aggressive. You know, playing the “I’m-upset-but-I’m-not-going-to-tell-you-because-if-you-loved-me-enough-you’d-figure-it-out” game that only leads to disaster. That is not the basis for a healthy relationship, and to get over doing that means you have to rely on trust and faith and respect — which I have in overflowing abundance with my husband John Pitts. Who, by the way, is an awesome stepfather, too. Am I lucky or what?


Thank you all for the kind fifth-anniversary thoughts. You are so sweet! My husband John Pitts and I had a super weekend of  looking back at our oh-so-wonderful wedding (and all the friends and family who made it so) and looking ahead to what new adventures await — a nice mixture of nostalgia and optimism! We do make a good team. In fact, he helped me with my newspaper column this week.  You can read the whole thing at,  but the best part is the advice he gave — my husband’s five things he’s learned from five years of marriage:

1. Just like Einstein, you spend a lot of energy grappling with issues of time and space. In our busy lives, of course, we have to make time for each other while also giving each other the space to breathe. But I also have learned not to call home when it’s time for “Survivor” or “So You Think You Can Dance,” and not to complain too much when she takes up “my space” in the closet. Einstein would tell you, if he were here: it’s all relative.

2. In a restaurant with a television, always sit with your back to the TV. This has brought as much harmony to our relationship as anything I can think of. I’m easily distracted, anyway, so this assures much better eye contact. Besides, it’s fun to hear my wife try to describe the action from a baseball game that’s playing behind me (“There’s a guy with the ball, then there’s a guy running and sliding and everyone is jumping up and down.”)

3. Be careful with the smart-alecky remarks when your wife is chopping something in the kitchen with a big knife and you’re standing nearby. I’m just sayin’.

4. It’s good to learn how to navigate in your spouse’s world. Even though I don’t like coffee, for instance, when we visit the coffee shop they can still make me something that I like: Steamed milk. Yum!

5. And the Biggest Lesson of All: Even though I want to, my wife is not always looking for me to make everything all right. Sometimes she just wants to vent, to cry, to have real emotions in the presence of a person who loves her and respects her and understands. Of course, sometimes she does want me to make everything all right. How to tell the difference? I’m working on it. Check back in another five years.