CARUTHERSVILLE, MO—It would be easy for abusive husband Glenn Osteen to complain. Out of breath, fists bruised and bloodied from repeated strikes against bone, one would almost expect the 39-year-old to surrender to frustration, to scream out in anger and demand that his wife unlock the bathroom door. Fortunately, Osteen's learned the secret to getting through rough times: a sense of humor.
"Let's face it, the daily grind can be brutal," says Osteen as he rummages through his battered old toolbox for a pipe wrench. "The way I see it, either you let your wife's broken jaw get under your skin and make you miserable, or you just roll with the punches and try to make the best of an already bad situation."
"Why beat yourself up about something you have no control over?" Osteen adds, kicking down the bathroom door on his sixth attempt and tossing the wrench playfully from hand to hand. "It's like the old saying: If you can't laugh at life, then chances are you're living it wrong."
Hours later, sitting in his favorite armchair while wife Samantha silently prepares a warmer and more conservatively seasoned dinner, Osteen admits he wasn't always able to see the funny side of life.
"I used to spend days feeling sorry for myself, wondering how things might've turned out if I'd married a woman who actually listened for a change," says Osteen, who admits he used to take domestic abuse too seriously. "Then one night—I don't know whether it was the sight of Samantha desperately trying to crawl toward the phone or the way the blood running out her nose formed that ridiculous-looking mustache—I suddenly burst out laughing."
Adds Osteen: "The whole situation can seem so insane sometimes, it's almost impossible not to crack up."
Armed with the newfound knowledge that it's useless to get upset about a situation that he "can't do anything to change," Osteen refuses to let life's ups and downs stop him from enjoying some of his favorite activities. Whether drinking excessively at his regular bar every evening or closing himself off in the basement to watch hour upon hour of silent pornography on his antique film projector, Osteen can often be heard making light of his circumstances.
"I don't know how he does it," says Robert Hodge, a longtime friend of the couple. "If I was in his position, I don't think I'd be able to kid around about biting my wife in the head. I would probably have a hard time discussing it at all."
Osteen bashfully admits that his antics sometimes backfire—like the time he became so paranoid that Samantha was out with her coworker, David, that he spent the entire evening driving around trying to catch them together, only to find her at her sister's house. As a result, Osteen missed most of the much-anticipated Lions–Bears football game.
"Man, that was a real kick in the gut," Osteen says with a chuckle. "But I guess we both got what we deserved."
While he manages to joke about his bad luck most of the time, Osteen admits there are days—such as last Thursday, when Samantha used too much starch in his best dress shirt—when it's still difficult to laugh off his lot in life.
"There are always going to be those moments when you lose sight of the humor in the situation and just clench your fists in frustration," Osteen says. "What's important is being able to take a step back, quickly pull down the living room blinds, and try to keep things in perspective."
In the end, Osteen says, it's all relative.
"As tough as it is, there's always someone out there who has it a lot worse than you," adds Osteen. "Fortunately, Samantha is there to remind me of that."