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Cullum Classic Portrayed First Lesson of Marriage Ed

Leo Cullum

by Seth Eisenberg

Leo Cullum had a knack for pointing out life’s ironies with a unique sense of wit and insight. For 33 years, Cullum delighted readers of The New Yorker with amusing cartoons that frequently poked fun at pompous executives, corruptible lawyers, and clueless physicians. After service in the Marine Corps, including flying 200 missions in Vietnam, Cullum began a 34 year career as a TWA pilot, retiring in 2002.  The 819 cartoons he published in The New Yorker will continue to provoke and delight readers for years to come. Leo Cullum died last Saturday of cancer. He was 68.

One of my favorite Cullum’ classics is a 1992 caricature of a doctor treating a cow complaining of ringing in his ears. With his patient listening intently as a large bell hangs around his neck, the physician says, “The ringing in your ears – I think I can help.”

The message reflects one of the first realizations participants discover in relationship and marriage education classes; that their own behaviors are causing, or at least significantly contributing, to the pain, sadness, frustration, or distance they are feeling. Knowledge is empowerment. The courage to change is up to each of us.

Seth Eisenberg is President of the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation, an industry leader in relationship and marriage education.

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October 2010
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