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Anonymous Mailbag

Well, it’s Tuesday, and I expected to be down in Mexico by now chilling on the beach. But instead a winter storm has arrived in Nashville — and much of the rest of the South — and shut down travel everywhere. So here I am, sitting in my house with the week off from our television show. But with the airport shut down, I can’t really go anywhere.

My loss is your gain.

Because it means I’m here to solve all the world’s problems with the anonymous mailbag.

As always, you can send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

Here we go:

“I’m thinking about starting a business with my wife, except there’s one problem, we disagree on pretty much everything. What time our kids go to bed, whether they need to wear pajamas or not, which direction the dishes should be loaded, what pizza place we should eat at. Albeit, these are petty things, and after 15 years of marriage and 6 kids, we’ve learned to manage them in our own humorous way, but will this translate when money is involved? I have an MBA, and she has a Masters in Music, so we’re both well educated, and our professional talents complement each other, but we just have zero education in resolving conflict in a healthy way.”

It’s funny, I had my wife doing work for OutKick several years ago when we got into the pants business, and she hated working for me for two primary reasons: 1. she had to listen and implement my decision, even if she disagreed. 2. Sometimes I would tell her I didn’t have the time for that issue right now because there were more serious issues at play, and I wouldn’t answer her question. (This is me saying the worst two worst things about working for me, she might disagree. In fact, she probably would.)

But the larger issue at play here — you and your wife disagree on almost every issue when it comes to parenting. Yet you’ve still managed to raise, at least so far, six kids. So that conflict isn’t necessarily a killer for your marriage, but it does raise challenges for a business. Namely, when two people disagree in business, one of you has to resolve it. So if you and your wife are equal partners in the business, then there’s no way to resolve a conflict when you are on opposite sides of an issue.

A 50-50 split is a perpetual tie in business. That won’t work because you have to make a decision.

Someone, inevitably, is getting overruled.

In your marriage, I bet one of you doesn’t always get their way every time. What happens in most marriages is that each partner has their own sphere of influence. For instance, my wife makes every decision about house-related issues. Heating and air, colors of cabinets, landscaping, my wife is on it. I don’t even know most of these decisions she ends up making. She handles it. Similarly, she makes almost every decision about the kids activities. Summer camps, sign ups for sports, you name it, she’s got it covered.

The same thing is true with vacations. We were going to Mexico — before the winter storm hit — and I had no idea where we were staying. We’re going to Utah next month, and I have no idea where we’re staying. She’s got it all handled, booked, scheduled, you name it.

But I make decisions in our household too. For instance, does it make sense to refinance a mortgage? What do our retirement accounts look like? That’s my sphere of influence.

Now that’s kind of naturally evolved over the space of fifteen years of marriage so far. It’s not like we sat down and said, “You will do this and I’ll do that.” We didn’t have a marital operating agreement. Although, come to think of it, it is a really interesting idea that, I bet, would solve many of the initial issues that exist in your marriage.

With a business, particularly a business with a spouse, I think you need to lay out who is making the decisions on certain issues so you don’t end up battling over the process of the decision making as much as you battle over the decision itself. Because that would become exhausting.

You also have to realize that what’s going on in your personal life can impact the business too. Your wife might be angry at you for something you did or didn’t do at home, and that could impact how your conversation about a business decision goes. A business also creates more potential for conflict.

But it’s important to realize there’s nothing wrong with conflict. It’s actually healthy, but how you resolve the conflict is significant.

Early in our marriage, I would come to my wife and ask her opinion on an issue and then I might end up doing the opposite of what her advice was. And she’d get upset about that. But the way I make decisions is by asking people I trust what their opinion is.

Why do I do this?

Because I want to make sure I’m not missing an angle in my analysis of a problem. I’m pretty good at breaking down the issues at play when it comes to making a decision, but I want to make sure there isn’t a blindside issue I’m missing.

But my blindside here was I didn’t tell her that. I just asked her opinion, and then she would sometimes see me doing the opposite. What I had to make her see was I wasn’t ignoring her advice when I did something differently than she suggested. I was asking her opinion not to give me the answer, but to make sure I wasn’t missing something. In other words, I valued her opinion when it came to the process of making a decision, even if I didn’t always take her advice.

That’s the best thing, I think, about having a smart partner in your marriage. You get free advice on complex questions. Because if you aren’t talking to your partner about business decisions — I’m not talking about all of them, but I am talking about at least some of them — then I don’t know why you would get married in the first place.

But if you’re talking to your partner about EVERY decision you make, then you don’t trust yourself enough.

As with marriage, everything’s a balancing act in business too.

If you go into business together, good luck. I’d suggest a clear delineation of decision making as being the most important aspect of that relationship.

“I’m a 24 year old single guy born and raised in an unaffordable state. I currently have an entry-level accounting job at an above-average firm making around $60k a year. Given COVID and my state being completely shut down I have moved in with my parents. This has been terrible and I feel helpless.

The apartment prices in my city are about $1600 a month for a single bedroom in an average part of town. It is hard for me to justify giving 33% of my income to some landlord every year. Also, the buying a home route isn’t much better as $380k gets you an absolute dump in my city.

I am really tempted to just say ‘fuck it’ and stay with the same firm and relocate to a cheaper part of the country. However, I would be leaving behind my entire friend group and family if I went through with a relocation.

My question to you is what do you think? I am currently unhappy in my current situation but feel like moving to a cheaper location wouldn’t be the answer as I’d leave behind great relationships. What else should I consider?”

The first thing I’d do is make a checklist valuing the current things in your life. Based on your email to me, it appears you’re happy with everything but your salary. Well, presumably, you aren’t going to be making the same salary for the rest of your life.

So let’s just pretend that you were making $100k a year instead of $60k a year. Would that additional salary make you happy with where you live and your life’s direction? If the answer is yes, then presuming you do a good job, you will probably reach that income level in the years ahead. You should just put your head down and keep grinding away at your job.

It’s also worth noting here that you’re 24 years old, and you’re making $60k a year. Perspective matters here, and I think people often lose that ability when it comes to money. That’s a very good salary at a young age, much higher than the average 24-year-old makes. I understand you can’t live the lifestyle you’d like to live at your current salary based on the cost of living in your city, but I think you’re being a bit stubborn here, honestly. Why aren’t you considering sharing an apartment with friends? You quote me the price of a one bedroom. That’s clearly an expensive price, but if you have such great friends in this city, surely there’s someone you’d like to share a place with, right? If so, you could cut your rent costs substantially with a roommate.

If you don’t want to do that, living with your parents and saving money isn’t a bad strategy either. But it seems like you are ignoring several other options here when it comes to stretching your income. Life is often about compromises. Most people don’t get exactly what they want in life at the exact moment they want it. You may be young enough, and somewhat spoiled enough, that you haven’t had to make as many of these compromises as most adults do.

Realizing that you’re not going to always get exactly what you want when you want it is a big part of adulthood.

The larger issue you have to decide, however, is what do you want from life? If you can move to a new city and you think you will be happier there — while keeping your current job — why wouldn’t you consider doing it? What’s the worst thing that could happen? You move back in a year to your current home, and you’ve at least tried living somewhere else in the meantime. So you won’t regret that move for years into the future.

There’s always going to be a reason not to move. It’s not like your friends and family are going to suddenly move to a new city with you. So the choice is yours. Decide what will make you the happiest and do it.

“My wife and I met in a war zone a few years back. We’re now very happily married with kids. Back before we met, her ex-boyfriend was former special forces and after not paying her back for a sizable loan, gave her his very expensive Breitling watch that comes with an emergency signal beacon. At purchase the watch had to be registered in his name in case the signal beacon was ever activated for search and rescue because there is some sort of false alarm charge. We do not have the registration papers.

We have had the watch since we were married and she gave it to me but I have never worn it because although it is very nice looking it’s not really my style and it didn’t seem like my watch. I go to a lot of fancy functions and dinners, but would never purchase a watch that cost near as much as this one.

What should we do with it? It seems pointless just to leave it in the closet. I estimate the resell would be about 25% of the original cost and would fetch a few thousand dollars. I’m not sure how to reregister the papers on the watch, but I suppose Breitling likely does that.

Can I wear the watch or does that violate guy code? If we sell it, should it go for a different less expensive and fancy watch for me or a new couch for the wife? In general, what are the rules for using stuff a spouse got from an ex and then gave to you?”

First, this ex-boyfriend didn’t actually eliminate his debt by giving a watch in place of the debt. Presumably he borrowed money from your wife. He can’t extinguish that monetary debt by giving her a random possession of his, even if it’s a valuable one, to cover his loan.

The only way a possession like this could be used to extinguish a debt would be if your wife agreed to the transaction. Here, she got a possession she had no interest in then — a man’s watch — and still has no interest in years later. This was not an equitable and fair exchange of goods. This ex-boyfriend took advantage of your wife.

So the simplest and most direct way to solve this problem is actually to return this watch to the ex-boyfriend and request repayment for the money he still owes your wife. Who knows, he may now be in better financial position and might welcome the return of his expensive watch. After all, he bought it and it’s still registered, presumably, in his name. Maybe he even feels guilty for giving her the watch to cover a debt and would like to get it back, but has felt bad about asking for it.

Him taking the watch back and paying your wife back her debt would be the best possible resolution to this issue. So why not try that first?

If you want to be less contentious in contacting him and not deal with the past debt issue, you could also just ask if he wants to buy the watch back. If he would like to buy it back, he’d probably pay more money for it than a random person out there might pay. Even if you don’t get the full value of the watch — or the full value of the money loaned — you have a decent chance to do better than selling it on the open market to a stranger.

So that’s the first step I’d take. If you’re nervous about your wife having contact with her ex-boyfriend, then you could contact him and explain that she gave the watch to you when you got married.

Second, I’m not an expert on fancy watches because I just use my phone to check the time, like I’d imagine the vast majority of you do as well. But if you don’t like the watch and won’t ever wear it yourself and if the guy who gave it back to pay a debt won’t cover his debt like he should be required to do, I’d probably just sell it to someone else. Let them know you’ve lost the homing beacon option — odds are the person buying it from you isn’t going to get lost fighting a war — and move on.

As for the rules on inheriting an ex-boyfriend’s watch, I think your wife blew it here. I’m surprised she didn’t just give it to you as a gift and not even mention the ex-boyfriend. The moment she mentioned that it was an ex-boyfriend’s watch, she was automatically making it less likely you’d want to use it. If she’d given it to you as a gift on the other hand, you’d probably wear it all the time.

Most men, I’d imagine, don’t want to use the possessions of a prior boyfriend or husband. But you can make your own decision on that.

“Hey Clay, will try to keep this short. My dad was a fairly successful high school football coach up here in Canada until COVID hit. Over the past year, now that he doesn’t have anything to do, he’s been glued to the television binging on CNN (bizarre given we live in Canada) and has turned into one of the coronabros. How are we supposed to bring these people back to reality from COVID extremism? It’s like they’ve joined a cult. I miss my dad.”

My hope is that once the coronabros get their vaccines, they will return to normalcy and gradually become embarrassed of the fear porn they bought into during the days of COVID. I’ve said for months that I think COVID lockdowns are going to be the biggest American failure of public policy since the Vietnam War. That’s particularly the case when it comes to shutting down schools, which all the science and data have made clear since at least last June was completely unjustified.

My hope is that as the immediacy of the COVID “threat” recedes that many people are going to realize how wildly we overreacted as a country and how indefensible it was to, for instance, shut down schools for a year and have the poorest in our country, whose jobs were the most likely to be lost, bear all the brunt of the cost of our ineffective lockdowns.

Already, with the coronabros slowly realizing schools should have never been shut down in the first place, there appears to be a dawning of reality setting in for much of the country. The data isn’t going to change. It’s just going to become more widely understood in the years ahead, and there will be less emotion attached to it as well.

So I think what you’ll see is many people who were ardent coronabros begin to deny they were ever coronabros in the years ahead.

In many ways, that’s akin to Vietnam.

Have you ever met anyone who argued that the Vietnam War was worth fighting? Of course not. Yet back in the days of the Vietnam War, there were many people, including many of the best and brightest “experts” in the country, who argued fighting the war was essential.

Now those people have all repudiated that opinion.

I suspect the same thing will end up being true of anyone who ever advocated for lockdowns in this country. They will just vanish in the years ahead.

“When I was younger I vowed to sleep with a woman from all 50 states (as well as from as many other countries as I could). I travel for work which has made this all possible. So far, I’ve been with women from 37 countries on 3 continents. I’ve also slept with women from 48 of the 50 states. I have an opportunity to knock out the last two states but was recently married. Should I do the right thing and consider it a nice run or complete the map?”

Assuming this goal is real and your tally is correct, travel with your wife at some point in the marriage to the two states left on your map and sleep with her there.

Sure, it’s a technicality, but you can count it.

If you really want to get aggressive with the goal, travel to the two states with your wife and hire a hooker for the two of you. Boom, you’ve completed the map.

In all seriousness, presuming this story is true, hopefully you’re ready to settle down.

Because if maximizing the amount of sex you were going to have with different women was still your goal, getting married was the worst choice you could have made.

As always send your anonymous mailbag questions to claytravis@gmail.com, anonymity guaranteed.

And thanks for reading OutKick.

Written by Clay Travis

OutKick founder, host and author. He's presently banned from appearing on both CNN and ESPN because he’s too honest for both.

10 Comments

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  1. As a married man of several decades–my advice to the “50 states” guy is DO NOT tell your wife of this goal/game. No matter how “cool” she is, the game is OVER. DONE. Do not every mention it publicly or privately, again. EVER.

  2. -> 24 year old:
    Moving back in with your parents should be the last viable option on the table. How the hell are you supposed to bring back a girl to your parents? Sorry you live in a shitty/expensive state but figure out how to budget. At 24 roommate option should be a no-brainer. Moving out of state seems like the best play here – chances make champions. Join a fuckin rec kickball league or something if you need to meet new people in a new city. If roommate or moving isn’t the play, consider living in the hood or hood-adjacent.

    ->48 State:
    GD that is funny. If your wife is cool I like the escort play. If you’re wife is not cool and you must complete the conquest, wear a rubber.

    • If you’re 24 and in an expensive area, why isn’t a couple roommates the first option? You’re 24 and in prime going out years until about 30ish. Get a 3 bedroom and a couple of roommates and have fun the next several years before real life sets in.

  3. To the poor 24 yr old kid that is making $60,000 and still living at home, have you ever thought about getting a second job? I don’t know where this mind set started that you work 40 hrs a week and that is it. I am 60 yrs old and other than a 2 yr period when I worked overseas, I have always had a 2nd job. And he should be taking advantage of living with his parents and save the money he would have spent on rent towards a down payment on a home in a “nicer” part of town. He also needs to be looking at the big picture and start putting away money into a retirement plan, especially if the company participates with a matching program

  4. “I’d suggest a clear delineation of decision making as being the most important aspect of that relationship.” Who is the entrepreneur? If it’s your wife(my guess), she holds 51% of all decisions based on direction, new ideas, creativity in marketing, etc. You hold 51% on decisions about the financing of ideas, investments in new things, the guts of making her ideas work. My wife and I have run a small business together for 23 years now. She is the entrepreneur, I make the ideas work. “clear delineation”

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