My girlfriend hinted a few weeks ago on Valentine’s Day that this might be the year to get engaged. I like her a lot but I’m not sure she is the right girl. The problem is that she rides her bike a lot and it cuts into time that she could be spending with me. So my question is, how much bike riding should a married person be allowed to do?
Playing Second Fiddle to a Bike
Dear Second Fiddle:
First, I dislike you. I just want to be clear about that. It is true that I dislike most people, so don’t necessarily feel offended strictly by this statement, but anyone who suggests that they are playing second fiddle to a bicycle is respecting neither the musical instrument, the bicycle nor the relationship. Similarly, to suggest that a married person be “allowed” to do one thing or another in this manner is infantile. If you want to stop reading my advice now, feel free to do so. Continue to believe childhood fantasies of what a relationship is and be on your way. On the other hand, if you want to have a grown-up relationship, then I will devote further energy to producing these words (not in the least because I am paid by the owners of this blog on a per-word basis and thus have an incentive to extend this discussion to the furthest limits of my interest, but which, admittedly, may end at any moment).
Let me be perfectly clear on this next point: Married people are “allowed” to do anything. They should, however, “choose” to respect certain agreements within their relationships, both explicit and implied. For instance, it is normal for married people to “choose” to not engage in sexual relations with those outside of their marriage (I will leave it to those who suppose that they are comedians to suggest that they do not have sexual relations within their marriages either). They should also choose to honor their obligations and commitments in a variety of other ways both small and large, but that is different than one human “allowing” another human to do anything, suggestive either of slavery or a deeply engrained and wrong-minded sense of patriarchy.
In this sense, your girlfriend and potential spouse has a hobby or sport that they find deeply fulfilling, otherwise they would not engage in such activity on such a regular basis as to give rise to your complaint. Further, she probably finds a number of health and social benefits from this bicycle riding; things that you should encourage or appreciate, rather than determining how much to “allow” her to participate in such a valued pursuit. It is, in fact, preferable that men and women, as opposed to boys and girls, come into relationships as fully formed humans with interests and life perspective, including, potentially, participation in hobbies and sports. You either accept the interests and life perspectives of your prospective mate, and they yours, in creating a relationship, or you do not and therefore do not, as a necessary result, have a relationship. It is that simple. Whether your interests and life perspectives mesh appropriately to sustain said relationship, however, is not simple in any way.
It is fair to recognize that in order to have a fulfilling relationship that each party much respect and appreciate the other. If bike riding prevents your girlfriend from attending your birthday party, that may indicate a problem, but if it prevents her from sitting on a couch while you watch a football game, that generally does not indicate a problem, particularly since your American Football is such a tragically banal sport primarily consisting of drug-created carcasses attempting to hurt each other. As such, there is such a thing as too much bike riding when considering the respect to be afforded a relationship, but do not suggest to me that you should be determining how much your girlfriend is allowed to ride her bike. She will choose to ride an amount that is appropriate for her within the context of your relationship and that will either work for both of you or it will not, but in no sense are you allowing her to do so.
On the other hand, women should allow their husbands to ride up to 15 hours per week before having children but while still pursuing education or entry-level jobs; allow up to a maximum of 6 hours per week while children are 0-10 years of age; allow a maximum of 10 hours per week while the children are ages 10-18; and then not only allow but encourage them to blindly pursue their lost youth with as much cycling as possible after children have left home to attend higher level education or residence elsewhere.
I hope that addresses your and all similar questions.
Dear Dr Spalm:
My dad is old and keeps telling me how he grew up without smart phones and computers. How do I make him stop??
It's a New World Out There
You are insolent and deserving of a spanking. In the country of my origin, we had neither computers nor children who disrespected their parents. Children were correctly taught to not speak unless spoken to, to tell the truth and to keep their opinions and feelings to themselves. We may have been miserable, but at least we all knew the rules.
When your father next tells you of the hardships and deprivations of his childhood, the only appropriate responses are to say "Yes sir, I am lucky to be raised by such thoughtful parents in an age of so much abundance even if it makes us soft and weak" and then offer to fetch him a beer.