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by Michael G. Maudlin

Female Fury Fuels Box-Office Frenzy

There are benefits to being married to a psychologist. Sometimes, when I least expect it, my wife comes home from work, ignores the fact that I haven't done any of the dozen things I had promised I would do, puts her arms around me, and tells me that I am a wonderful husband.

I simply smile and receive this grace. It means she has just assessed the damage to a marriage in which the husband is truly awful, and she is feeling grateful that all she has to put up with is me.

But then there are the days when no matter what spousal virtues I have demonstrated, I find myself a marked man. The conversation starts innocently enough. "You know, it's a man's world. They control everything." I have learned not to play Bill Buckley to her Gloria Steinem. "Why do you say that, honey?" Her glare says, Don't give me that crap. You are part of the conspiracy and you know it. I try to look empathetic, but it is no use. I am the enemy.

Nine times out of ten, what prompts Karen's fury is a divorce case. The husband is hiding assets, and his wife has no clue as to what they actually own. Or he has cheated on his wife and now wants half her pension. Or the wife wants to fight for a just settlement but is afraid her husband will beat her or even kill her. Or she simply doesn't know how she will raise three children and meet expenses while her husband gets to live out the dreams of a second adolescence.

Karen has heard it all. She can walk her client through the stages of grief, help her deal with feelings of guilt, fear, and failure, and formulate a life plan. Still, Karen seethes with frustration at her relative impotence. She is on the wife's side, but everyone else, it seems, is on the husband's: the lawyers, the judge, the government, and, tragically, often the church. This is a reality, a widely acknowledged but little-discussed fact of life 30 years after the feminist revolution. And it makes women, like my wife, mad.

That anger runs deep. In its first weekend, The First Wives Club grossed ...

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