Anne Palumbo: A surprising cause for divorce

Anne Palumbo

I’m not going to mince words or beat around the bush. Today I’m going to talk about something that hacks away at the happiness of many marriages: overpruning.

You think I’m kidding? I am not. Next to finances, incompatibility and dubious hygiene, overpruning is the fourth cause for divorce in this country.

Why is overpruning such a thorn in the side of love? Why does it clip our chipper moods? Those are good questions, and ones that I am happy to answer.

First, though, we need to take a long, thoughtful look at the differences between pruning and overpruning.

Simply put, pruning is good and overpruning is bad. OK, now that we have that out of the way, let’s focus on why overpruning is so darn heartbreaking.

Men, you can leave the room now, and you know why.

Ladies, let’s take a moment and let out a collective howl of agony. I know, I know, it’s not easy being married to an overpruner. One minute you have a glorious row of privacy hedges, the next minute you’re looking at your neighbor’s rusty van. One minute you have a lovely freeform bush, the next you have an uptight popcorn ball. It’s enough to make a grown woman stab something with scissors -- over and over and over.

The thing is, we women understand that a man’s intentions are good when he heads out to do “a little tidying up.” We get that he wants to improve the health and look of the plant. What we don’t get is what happens between a “little tidying up” and a gigantic thrashing that reduces the poor plant to a few twisted roots.

It’s like some primitive force takes over with the first whack. Much like a shark that smells blood, men get a good whiff of raw bark and all hell breaks loose. The brow enlarges, the eyeteeth elongate, the knuckles sprout fur and the back muscles ripple with primal anticipation.

We wives see this transformation from the kitchen window and think: “Oh, no! I must stop the monster before he levels my lilacs!” But, of course, who has the guts to confront Edward Scissorhands when he’s in a pruning frenzy? Not this gal.

But you know what’s even worse than an overpruner? A covert overpruner. Oh, yeah. This sneaky beast waits until you’re away for the weekend before he reduces your landscape to nubbins. As if you weren’t going to notice!

Wife: Uh, honey, where’s the third pine tree?

Husband: Big storm on Saturday took it out.

Wife: What happened to all the rhododendrons?

Husband: Deer decimated them.

Wife: And did these same deer shape my favorite boxwoods into little bricks? Reduce my roses to stumps? And give my butterfly bush a brush-cut?

Ah, it’s just a few branches, you overpruners might be snorting, what’s the fuss? I’ll tell you what the fuss is. We women take our foliage personally. Yes! We get very attached to the way our plants look and don’t like them altered – unless, of course, we have been duly consulted. But there’s the rub, the grounds for divorce: We never do get consulted.

Anyway, Overpruners of America, I urge you to cut back on the cutting, OK? Bury your hatchet for the season and make your wife happy. Otherwise, her rage may trump your rage, and – holy bent golf clubs – hell hath no fury like a woman shorned!

Anne Palumbo writes this weekly column for Messenger Post Newspapers. E-mail: avpalumbo@aol.com.