Edumacation

Published on September 12th, 2014 | by Richard Black

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A Study on “Happily” Married Couples and Thoughts on Correlation Versus Causation

UF_happy_couple_091214

Disgusting right? Seriously how much do you want to find these kids and punch them both in the ovaries?

Recently a study came out suggesting that “happily” married couples kissed five times a day, had sex twice a week and said, “I’m sorry” to each other approximately fourteen million times a day and I think that’s great. I really do. Learning to apologize for a terrible performance in bed is one of the keystones of  any lasting marriage.

To be frank I can  say that I hit two out of three of the study’s “measures” of marital happiness and I’m fairly comfortable with that percentage. If I were taking marriage pass/fail I’d still be passing, perhaps not spectacularly, but passing nonetheless. We often forget that 66% is still a passing grade and after being employed off and on for the past twenty years I can say that anyone I’ve worked for would be delighted to have employees performing at 66% of capacity.

A successful marriage takes quite a bit of work and not just because sex for a man of my advanced age is simply exhausting but that’s really beside the point.  Just because my wife let’s me crawl on top of her two nights a week or gives me a quickie in a gas station bathroom does not necessarily a happy marriage make. Correlation is not causation. I learned that the hard way and not because I tried to hump my first marriage into happiness.

My personal experience with of correlation and causation began a few years ago in a galaxy far, far away. A slightly younger me had chanced upon a study relating one’s intake of caffeine with one’s mental well being. According to the conclusions people who drank a frightening amount of coffee were less likely to be diagnosed with clinical depression, presumably because they were spending an inordinate amount of time in coffee shops instead of a self help group for people addicted to caffeine.

Unfortunately for my family, friends and really society at large I began to consume my body weight in coffee every day for the next four weeks. The short story is that it didn’t work. The slightly longer story is that I spent the next month as a hopped up wreck. After forgoing caffeine for three years the massive influx of the drug into my system made me a jittery, bouncing, mess with the attention span of a coked-up squirrel.

UF_Galaxy_091214

A galaxy much like our own and far, far away in which correlation may not imply causation.

I got a lot done. I just didn’t do much of it well. After washing half the dishes I’d run off to vacuum a few curtains before dashing off to the hardware store to buy a ratchet set because I’d always wanted to change the oil in my car. I developed a profound interest in cooking, electricity, alchemy, chemistry, tapestry, Ministry (the band), ministry (the calling) and just about everything else I could learn about on my phone while I was refinishing the dining room chairs or tiling our unfinished basement. My interests and enthusiasm knew no bounds as long they weren’t required to last longer than thirty seconds.

During my experiment with caffeine I remember reading a rather poorly chosen book about a kid who tried to create a Breeder reactor in his tool shed and recall thinking  “Hey. I can do that!”.  I only made it through the first twenty pages of the book and assumed that given the prevalence of nuclear reactors in everyone’s yard the young man met with unconditional success. Later and in a much calmer state I discovered (spoiler alert) the kid wasn’t able to make a reactor, caught the attention of the government by ordering Uranium 238 online and ended up with radiation poisoning. I couldn’t say exactly how because I still can’t manage to finish the book or even make it through Home Fission for Dummies.

So in the interest of science and cutting down energy costs I thought I’d whip up a smallish fission reactor in my bathtub. I figured we could work around the thing as most of us shower and in the event of some sort of meltdown I could just flood the tub with water. Unfortunately for the future of mankind the project was shut down when my wife put the kibosh on my attempt to live off the power grid.

Laura wasn’t really concerned that I’d make a functioning nuclear reactor mind you, she just wanted to take a bath without swimming in various bits of nuclear bric-a-brac and I understand her viewpoint, mostly. I went through a brief period of self doubt and no small amount of bitterness (what sort of man wants to be with a woman who doesn’t believe that he can build a nuclear reactor) before I moved on to other lapses of highly caffeinated judgement.

After leaving for work one day Laura foolishly mentioned that our daughter hadn’t had a bath in a few weeks and that the vegetable garden could use a bit of watering. Eight cappuccinos later I had the sprinkler going full bore in the back yard and Darcy in the buff with a bar of soap and a washcloth.

UF_cooling_tower_091214

Imagine this but much smaller. And in my bathtub. That’s what I was going for.

Laura nixed my indulgence in caffeine shortly afterward before I had some sort of psychotic episode. It’s really sad actually as I was in the midst of converting a Ford Fiesta’s motor into a generator/Sno Cone machine. Like any addict or semi-coherent loon I put up a healthy defense. I went through my concerns regarding power outages brought about by thunderstorms, the inevitable ATM robot uprising and the demand for Sno Cones in a world without electricity where we could live like kings but my arguments were for naught.

Under extreme duress I went cold turkey and cut out caffeine from my diet which, coincidentally, consisted of about 80 percent of my calories. Suffice it to say that it was not a pleasant experience for anyone. I’ve had better times in a cinder block cell and a ballpeen hammer but that’s another story for another time.

As far as the findings of the the hump, kiss, apology study mentioned earlier I’m keeping an open mind. I don’t think I can manage sex more than once a month but I plan on apologizing for my performance (or the lack thereof) at least 28 million times a week in order to make up for my many other failings. On a somewhat related note I may have not been entirely honest about kicking the coffee bean. There’s really nothing like that surge of creative energy you get after taking down your tenth latte in four hours. It’s a hard habit to break but, until I do, I’ll continue my efforts to perfect a way to make whipped cream in my dryer (set on low I mean I’m not a fucking idiot).

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