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The great peanut butter debacle of 1985

It’s that time of year again. Kids are returning to school, the temperature’s dropping, and presidential campaign’s heating up. My daughter is going to school for the first time this year. I’m a little freaked out. Luckily during this time of year, I, like most of you, have one thing constantly on my mind to quiet the anxieties: REO Speedwagon.


Look at ’em, just pretending the bald dude doesn’t look pedophilic.


Aside from marveling at the many wise style choices the band has made over the years,

“You promise? This doesn’t come across as creepy?”
I miss my Grandma.


they have made some truly poignant statements on life (Case in point). One such view that has stuck with me (luckily) is the lead track on the Tuna album, Roll with the Changes. This is not something I have always been good at, rolling with the changes. I tend to get expectations in my mind of how things should go and I tend to fixate and get pouty when they don’t go the way I planned. Let me give you an example.

When I was probably 5 or 6 years old, my sister Jen was babysitting me (that’s probably not true, but it’s how I remember it, so that’s what you get). I asked her to make me a piece of bread with peanut butter and butter on it. Jen has to be one of the nicest people on the face of the planet, so she gladly made me a piece of bread exactly as I had described it; peanut butter with butter on top.

Holy crap! How could she screw up such a simple request? Who eats bread with butter on top of peanut butter? What are we, savages? Everyone knows you put the butter down as a foundation on which to build your peanut butter. Changing that would change the very balance of nature. It would taste absolutely horrible. I have never been so disappointed in my life.

Jennifer was so apologetic. She clearly felt terrible. She offered to make me a new one, but I was the bigger man and decided to choke down what was placed before me. I remember taking bites through tears and marveling that somehow this culinary monstrosity didn’t taste any different than when the butter was on the bottom. Still, it was not what I had planned, so it was not as good.

I see a lot of couples and clients who sometimes struggle with the same problem. They become so set on what they think their relationship or life should look like that they fail to see the great things they already have going. They focus on the ideal (often unattainable) creating problems for themselves where they don’t need to exist. My peanut butter bread was not what I was picturing, but it tasted exactly the same. I made sure I didn’t really enjoy it and made my sister feel miserable in the process.

Too often our fixation on making sure we get exactly what we expect or what we planned comes at the expense of what matters more. I expect to have my driveway nice and clean after I mow, but when my daughter asked to sweep it for me yesterday, I knew I was giving up a clean driveway. It was worth it. The more open we are to changes that occur to mess up our expectations, the happier we will be; they are going to happen anyway.

“So if you’re tired of the same old story, oh, turn some pages.” Talk to me REO.

Rob Porter, Ph.D., LMFT

Couples Counselor, Marriage Therapist, slightly ashamed REO Speedwagon fan, Austin TX

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