When Bad Things Happen to Good Couples

Even in the best relationships, things do not always go smoothly.  Unfortunately, many people are so enthralled when love is in full bloom that they miss the first signs when it gets infested with chinch bugs.  Here are some examples from readers who have poured their hearts out this month in order to salvage a love boat headed towards the rocks.


Dear Bad Things/Good Couple Lady:

My marriage to my husband “Don” has had its ups and downs over the years, with long unexplained absences, strange items on our credit card bills and phone calls at night from women who do not want to leave their names when I offer to take a message.  Through it all, I have stood by “Don” and I thought we were on the right track after he directed his romantic energies into community service at the suggestion of a marriage counselor.

“Amez-vous allowed to sleepez-vous avec moi?”


“Don” became very involved in an organization called “People to Persons” which brings foreign exchange students to the U.S. to promote international understanding.  About a month ago he started cleaning out the room off our kitchen that he uses for his office and when I asked him what for he said they had a crisis, a family backed out of their deal to take a French girl for second semester so he had volunteered us.  I said well okay but I wish you would have asked me first as I only have one set of sheets for the pull-out couch.

“I wish to study le fashion design dans America.”


When “Brigitte” showed up I would say she must have failed a few courses at her “lycee” because she looked to be thirty if she was a day.  “Don” and “Brigitte” began to spend long hours together in the office with the door closed practicing English they said.  I offered to help, but no they said they were fine, they had a thesaurus, which I thought was some kind of dinosaur.

I was willing to go along with this arrangement for a few weeks but last night “Brigitte” came out of the office, her face all flustered, and said “Madame, avez-vous une condom?”

I am beginning to get a little suspicious that there may be something going on between these two, as I looked up the French word for condom on the internet last night and it is “preservatif.”  Wouldn’t “Brigitte” know this if she was really French?

Will wait to hear from you before I do anything as I do not want this to turn into an international incident.

Doris Wilbur, Chillicothe, Ohio


Dear Doris:

Sadly, America is not the only nation that suffers from inadequate instruction in language arts.  French teenagers, like Americans, spend too much time playing les games du video or watching le television and not enough time conjugating irregular verbs.  I suggest that you take a step back and try to put your husband’s good work in perspective.  If each of us extended the hand of friendship across the water, the world would be a better place.


Dear Bad Things to Good Couples:

There is this boy “Earl” at my high school who asked me to the junior prom several months ago–he was not very popular at the time and I think he was trying to make sure he had someone lined up.  I said yes and went out and bought a dress and shoes and purse to match.   Our basketball team made it to the district finals and Leon Gehrke, our star center, sprained his ankle driving to the basket for a layup that tied the game, and “Earl” came off the bench to shoot his foul shot for him.  It was so quiet you could hear a mouse drop, and “Earl” made the shot to win the game.

He shoots–he scores!


All of a sudden “Earl” is very popular and he starts avoiding me in the halls.  When I confronted him he said he had a spring cold and didn’t want me to get it, but then one of his friends gave me a note that said ”Earl” had to cancel the prom as his cold turned out to be bubonic plague and also I shouldn’t go because he might have given it to me and the other kids would die.  He said if I felt all right the day after the prom I was probably going to be okay.

Restaurant hostess:  “I think I can squeeze you in tonight.”


So I didn’t go to the prom but my best friend Cindy Orlich went with her boyfriend Kevin and she says “Earl” was there the whole time with Beth Wendstrom who is head cheerleader and is going to be a restaurant hostess when she graduates, she is so good looking.

What I want to know is, is “Earl” legally responsible for my prom expenses?  It took me two months of babysitting to pay for my outfit.

Sincerely yours,

Judith Ross, Ottumwa, Iowa

Fashion like this doesn’t come cheap.


Dear Judith:

Do not let your bitterness cloud your judgment.  I believe you are focusing too narrowly on the cost of a dress you never would have worn again anyway!  You should go after Earl and his family for fraud, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unfair and deceptive acts and practices, trover and replevin!  Consult your local yellow pages and choose a good lawyer who offers free initial consultations.


Bad Things/Good Couples person:

I never thought I would have to write a letter like this but I am at my wit’s end.  My husband’s mom and dad come to visit us for two weeks every July, which would be fine except for one thing.  Every afternoon ”Bud”–my father-in-law–takes a nap in our family room on the couch right next to the TV.  He generally goes down right after lunch and sleeps for two hours.  This just happens to be the “time slot” for “Afternoons of Our Lives,” my favorite soap opera.  Bad Things/Good Couples–we are coming up on a crucial period on “Afternoons” as Cecily is unsure whether she is the mother of the baby girl she is carrying, or whether it was implanted in her by her jealous sister Tiffany who stands to inherit Todd’s family fortune if she gives him a first-born son.

I don’t want to have to deal with “Bud” every day when my heart is in such a turmoil over the potential consequences of this complicated situation.  Any suggestions would be welcome.

Yours truly,

Mrs. Carol Anne Shugart, Shrewsbury, Mass.

Rory, Tiffany and Todd


Dear Carol Anne–

As a fellow fan of “Afternoons,” I am a little disappointed in you.  If there is anything you should have learned from America’s most popular daytime television drama, it is that family is the most important thing in the world, after money, sex, power and fancy jewelry.

I would suggest that you respect your father-in-law’s nap schedule while satisfying your desire to keep up with the show by serving him Chock full o’ Nuts dark roast coffee laced with Red Bull energy drink at lunch.  That way he’ll have enough energy to wash the dishes while you relax on those coveted sofa cushions!


Available in Kindle format on amazon.com as part of the collection “Take My Advice: I Wasn’t Using it Anyway.”


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