Wed | Jun 16, 2021

Gordon Robinson | The 80/20 rule

Published:Tuesday | July 16, 2019 | 12:00 AM

I’m often asked how I’ve managed to stay married for 38 years and ‘with’ the same woman for 40.

Today’s youth find it incomprehensible. Depending on the questioner’s perceived acuity, I give a variety of answers. My favourite way to ‘take the Mick’ (as Cockneys would say) out of wide-eyed 20-somethings is to reply, “We didn’t have cable TV or satellite dishes.” After the standard follow-up, “What?”, I expand: “We weren’t subjected to daily doses of pornographicus vomitus, so we were happy with what we had.”

In the days when I used to pursue a Young Ball and Chain until she caught me, everything was left to the imagination. The most sexually explicit material was found in books. As a teenager, a friend loaned me his dog-eared copy of Fanny Hill (by English novelist John Cleland, first published in 1748), which contained zero profanity, but cleverly used words like ‘nethermouth’ to describe unmentionable lady parts and get teenage boys like me hot and bothered. The book was banned by 18th-century sex police.

So, unsophisticated boys sheltered from educational media like then non-existent American Triple Ecstasy were forced to learn and rely on obsolete techniques that included opening doors for girls; speaking to them face to face (very few telephones available); carrying things (like books) for them; going for walks or (thrill of thrills) to the movies to spend two hours surreptitiously trying to put your arm around your ‘date’. If a girl actually liked you back, she was the one!

Well, Saturday night at eight o’clock,

I know where I’m gonna go.

I’m gonna pick my baby up

and take her to the picture show.

Ev’rybody in the neighbourhood

is dressin’ up to be there, too,

and we’re gonna have a ball

just like we always do.

Saturday night at the movies!

Who cares what picture you see

when you’re huggin’ with your baby

last row in the balcony?


But the real truth is that every good relationship is governed by the 80/20 rule. There’s no happily-ever-after, no matter what Gerald Mills or Charles Boon says. One of my favourite sportscasters, the ­legendary Harry Caray, would read congratulatory anniversary messages during every Cubs game. He’d say (sarcastically): “John and Mary. Married 30 years” (pause for his perennial punchline) “and never had an argument!” followed by gales of laughter at his own joke.

Not possible! Perfect marriage/spouse concepts are the wickedest illusions forced upon us. Every marriage has stresses; tensions; and disappointments. What the spiritually advanced rely on to succeed is the 80/20 rule.

What’s the 80/20 rule? Your Mr/Ms Right can only deliver 80 per cent of your wants or needs. It’s a scientific fact. During the course of a relationship, you’ll meet a special someone who can provide the missing 20 per cent. DON’T BE STUPID. Don’t allow temptation to trick you into giving up 80 per cent in exchange for 20 per cent.

Nothing you could say can tear me away from my guy.

Nothing you could do ‘cause I’m stuck like glue to my guy.

I’m sticking to my guy like a stamp to a letter.

Like birds of a feather we stick together.

I’m tellin’ you from the start I can’t be torn apart from my guy.

Saturday Night at the Movies, written by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, was recorded by the Drifters (1964) with Johnny Moore on lead. It celebrated an era of innocence. Also in 1964, Mary Wells recorded My Guy, written by the iconic William ‘Smokey’ Robinson, Motown co-founder.

But the worst illusion with which this contrary world will entice you isn’t perfect marriage. It’s the ‘perfect’ other man/woman who can be the missing 20 per cent but, in reality, for whatever reason, is only able to give five per cent. Those are the most dangerous. And you never find out until it’s too late.

So, guys and gals, stick to your 80 per cent. Like. Glue! You’ll be glad you did.

Peace and love.

Gordon Robinson is an attorney-at-law. Email feedback to