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What I Watched Last Night

So that this column doesn't turn into just a Tuesday's weekly reflection on The Riches, I watched the premiere of One Week To Save Your Marriage on The Learning Channel last night. This program's trailers caught my eye last week because over the past three years I've become intimately familiar with marriage counseling and divorce lawyers.

Or more precisely, what a divorce lawyer charges - which is basically what a life between two people ends up being reduced to. If you're unfamiliar with the experience, let's just say opening the billing envelope once a month is not unlike having a jack-in-the-box clown pop out and nail you in the face with a shot from the big bottle of seltzer.

Can a marriage be saved in one week? Dr. Robi Ludwig says it can. After Monday's viewing, I tend to agree with the basic family therapy mantra that when you have two people who actually commit to saving their marriage, of fucking course you can save a marriage in a week. Even after watching the premiere episode, my question still revolves around whether you'd put more faith in Dr. Robi or Dr. Phil to save a truly hard-case marriage on the skids. I've seen Dr. Phil resurrect some pretty hard and hopeless cases, so I'll keep any opinions to myself until I see Dr. Robi get a truly hard and hopeless case.

Anyway, One Week is hosted by Dr. Robi Ludwig, a perky thing all full of positive attitude who spends most of her time being the less-hot cousin of Jaime Pressly from My Name Is Earl when she's not off working marital miracles and stuff. Dr. Robi says she's been "mending marriages across the United States for 15 years," and she wants to "show how marriages on brink of divorce can be saved fast." That's because she's wired her choice of maritally troubled houses with cameras in every room so she can look in on them 24/7 to see how they really relate to each other. Because you know, everyone in therapy has their own version of the truth, and you can plow through only a small portion of the lies one hour a week. So when the couples go wrong, Dr. Robi will "be there to put them right with a series of tests designed to rejuvenate their marriage . . . to put the fun and laughter back where it's been missing for years."

An outing of fun and laughter will undo years of seething, deep-seated resentment and hostility. Yeah, okay.

And she'll "make the diagnosis straight away." Yeah, okay again. After tonight's episode, somehow I don't think she has the same balls as Dr. Phil to actually diagnose one or both of these people as being a self-centered dipshit who could actually begin solving their problems if they just stopped being a self-centered dipshit in the first place.

Dr. Robi's Monday night test-tube couple were Kevin and Sue, who met in a karaoke bar. Kevin's a 42-year-old serial adulterer who owns a business installing - and apparently laying more than - floors since he's strayed five times in his 11-year marriage to Sue, 39. They have three kids who Kevin has spent a lot of time neglecting because he's too busy screwing around and ignoring everyone in the house. Kevin moved in with his last girlfriend, but came to his senses a month later when he discovered that "I made a mistake. I found out what truly made me happy, and that was Sue." Which is in-other-words speak for: A) I had no idea she was this crazy-ass bitch until I actually lived with her, or B) Without all the sneaking around, she wasn't really that great a lay, or C) She was going to dump me, so I dumped her first.

This is exactly why therapists cite the statistic that most affairs, if left alone, end within six months.

I'm going to save everyone a lot of time here with Dr. Robi's diagnosis that Sue's underlying problem was never feeling appreciated or listened to, so she suffered from low self-esteem that needed to be rebuilt. "Nobody thanked me," Sue complained to Kevin. "You thanked me by sleeping with people . . . I did everything myself." Kevin's underlying problem that was he felt like a failure because he never felt good enough for her. "I think . . . I had to go prove myself," he confided.

So, with the help of Dr. Robi's patented series of tasks, Kevin won back Sue's heart by professing what Sue meant to him before a bunch of people (who were in on the whole thing) in the smallest movie theater on Earth, and Sue did the same by whisking Kevin away in a sporty little convertible for a flower-petal covered lunch on a covered boat that cruised a muddy little canal of some sort. Finally, they consummated their new-found trust and listening and appreciation skills in a ceremony before Dr. Robi.

As it happens, even you can put in your own bid to have Dr. Robi save your marriage if you and the spouse can agree to set aside sucking the remaining good will out of each other for a week.

If you happen to be chosen, good luck. If not, work on developing a taste for seltzer.

*

The real riches can be found in the What I Watched Last Night archive.



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Posted on March 27, 2007


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