Teasing your spouse

Interesting article in the paper this week about teasing your kids. According to the author, a man who’s written several parenting books, “It’s normal and natural to want to tease your…children. It’s just not a good idea.”

I would argue the same rule holds true for your spouse.

I see it too much. Husbands and wives who trade barbs under the guise of “raillery,” thinking they’re maybe like William Powell and Myrna Loy in the “Thin Man” movies, or maybe Bruce Willis and Cybill Shepherd in “Moonlighting” (sorry my cultural references are so dated, it’s just that modern culture is curiously bereft of witty male-female sparring– the only recent example I can think of is Dane Cook and Jessica Alba in “Good Luck Chuck,” and, well.

Meanwhile, everyone around them is wondering when they’re going to tip over into “Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf” territory.

Praise is to human beings as water is to a plant, I believe. You can get too much of it, sure, but out in the wilds of the world it’s likely to be the other way around. As my friend Patricia Pearson points out in her excellent new book “A Brief History of Anxiety: Yours and Mine,” just out (you should buy it, if only to assuage her heebie-jeebies about it not becoming a bestseller), the world is a scary enough place.

Within the bosom of our families, we want to be soothed, nurtured. The historian Christopher Lasch called home “a haven in a heartless world,” and I think that should be true. Be nice to your kids. Be nice to your spouse.

I can almost guarantee they’ll like you longer.

Hey, speaking of books I just signed a contract to write one tentatively called “Damage Control: Advice for Getting Out of Sticky Situations.” Should be out next spring. Now, I know you’ve been getting my thoughts and words for free, my bloggies, but, hey, maybe as a birthday present for someone…?