By BOB MCKINNEY
My wife and I celebrated 35 years of marriage over the weekend.
Since many of you who read this column don’t know me personally, I would love to convince you we married as teenagers. But there are enough who would know that is not true and might feel inclined to call me out on it, so I won’t even try.
That’s not the point of today’s piece, anyway. I opened with the statement about the length of our marriage to lead into the comment that, after all these years as husband and wife, we don’t have rigid roles and responsibilities.
In the early years, some of the teaching we received at church conveyed that precise roles in marriage are, in fact, endowed by our Creator.
I don’t doubt some of that is true. I came to the conclusion, however, that some of the teaching was a bit stiff, and we could be more flexible while still maintaining a strong spiritual life.
I also participated in a couple of men’s studies, the content of which purported to describe a “biblical man” — a man with whom I often found myself having little in common. Maybe I’ll get into all of that another day, but suffice it to say I acquired a healthy and prayerful skepticism and decided it was OK to disagree with some of the teaching.
Over the years, my wife and I have shared some marital responsibilities, while others have become more clearly defined for one or the other of us because we are better at them or more comfortable with them. Disagree if you will, but I don’t believe that makes either of us more or less of a biblical man or woman.
One of those chores is dealing with the company that provides our cable and internet service. If I felt God leading me to talk to these people, I would, but with Him as my witness, I don’t believe that is the case.
My spouse, on the other hand, is fully equipped to have those conversations, and she has had many. They usually concern the cost of our service, and once a comment is made by her about moving to a competitor, some negotiation takes place and an acceptable pricing agreement is reached.
Our current service is provided by AT&T U-Verse. (I don’t usually name names, but I don’t see that I can avoid it here. I’m trusting my editor to make sure I haven’t crossed any lines). From them we get cable TV, internet and a land line connection in one package, or, as they love to call it, “bundle.”
We unplugged the home phone about a year ago because we were no longer using it. Believe it or not, this was AT&T’s suggestion because it’s cheaper than simply eliminating the land line service. (Don’t get me started.)
If you have U-Verse, you might have noticed you are not getting ABC right now. If you go to the number on your TV that corresponds to the local ABC station, you get a message that tells you about the dispute they are in with Nexstar Media Group, which apparently owns the local ABC affiliate.
Although there has been surprisingly little information in the local media about it, you can do a Google search to learn what’s going on. It’s apparently happening with DirectTV, also an AT&T company, as well, and it is affecting various markets around the country.
According to the latest I could find, AT&T says Nexstar is price gauging them and Nexstar says AT&T “is intent on using its new market power to prioritize its own content at the expense of consumers.”
Whatever the case, my wife is not happy about it, although to me it has been inconsequential. I might not have even known about it if she had not told me. I am not a big TV guy and I hardly ever watch what has become known as “appointment TV” (watching a show on the date and time it actually airs) unless it’s the occasional news show or baseball game.
My network TV watching will usually consist of something I watch using the On Demand feature, where I can watch previously aired programming. I don’t guess I watch much that originates with ABC because I can’t think of anything I have missed.
(I checked, and even the On Demand feature for ABC has been pulled during this dispute. They mean business, folks.)
I have heard U-Verse subscribers who are fans of The Bachelor or The Bachelorette are unhappy, because that’s where those shows air. I think Dancing with the Stars is an ABC show, but it’s not currently running, so I suppose that fan base has not become upset — yet.
For my wife, it’s a matter of principle. She does not watch The Bachelor, but she says if we are paying for a package that includes ABC, we are not getting what we are paying for. I can’t argue with that.
And that was the subject of her most recent conversation with the good folks at AT&T. They were obviously ready for her call, because they explained to her how she can still watch ABC programming through the streaming option.
But she told them she is not interested in that. We are paying for ABC to be broadcast on our TV as part of our package and that is not happening.
Which is why we will see a credit on our next statement.
I know this was not a contentious discussion. I know from experience she stated her case politely yet firmly, then stood her ground. That’s why she is so good at these things and why she is called to be our advocate with such people.
Come to think of it, it is not unlike some discussions she has had with me over 35 years. It’s a method that works well.
I have a hunch that if AT&T does not want a mass exodus of customers in a few weeks, the dispute will be resolved by the time college football starts.
The Bachelor is one thing, but hard core football fans will not want to stream games and endure that annoying buffering. (Look it up.)
And if they work it out, AT&T might be wanting back some of those credited funds.
I’ll let my wife talk to them about that. I’m pretty sure it’s her responsibility as a biblical woman.
Bob McKinney is a longtime Brentwood resident, happy husband and proud father, father-in-law and grandfather. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.