Monkeys Never Learn

Some time ago Jack and I watched a rerun of “Everybody Loves Raymond” on cable TV. I don’t have the slightest idea what that episode was about, but the punchline we took away was, “Monkeys never learn.” It involved a story about a monkey who kept doing…something or other…over and over, resulting in Ray’s declaration that “Monkeys never learn.”

I’ve seen plenty of animal behavior shows where monkeys are learning a whole lot, but the story and punchline were amusing and stuck with Jack and me. We use that line occasionally while noting that some people never learn or change their behavior in certain situations – yet they wonder why the outcome never changes. Maybe it’s a teenager who keeps disobeying the household rule and wonders why she is always in trouble. Or perhaps it’s an employee who isn’t following protocol and wonders why he doesn’t get that promotion. It might even be couples who feel their relationship is stagnant while not doing anything to spice it up. Or maybe there’s a continual argument among partners that never gets resolved because the same tactics are being used to battle it out.

Monkeys never learn.

I’m not saying this to be mean. I know full well that monkeys can learn. I’m saying this to point out the fact that the same-old-same-old doesn’t work. Whether it’s within the family dynamic, a job, or a marriage, take a different approach to the situation.

Let’s look at your marriage. Go ahead, we don’t judge. Do you keep fighting about chores? Money? Issues with the children? Sleeping patterns? Working too much? Someone is less than attentive? Whatever the case, try a different approach the next time the issue comes up. Are you a screamer? Think of calm way to sit down and talk. Are you too calm? Maybe it’s time to ruffle some feathers with a big demand. Are your thoughts scattered and you feel you can’t communicate your needs? Write ‘em down and makes notes about each. Do you just clam up and cry? Stop! You’ve got to let it out. Maybe writing it down will help you as well.

Whatever the case, take a look inside and figure out a different way. Be honest with yourself. How can you alter the way to argument goes? I like to think of this as fight strategizing. (Fightigizing?!) Plan how you want to have an argument or a discussion before it happens. Maybe while things are going well, talk about how you should disagree in the future. Come up with a safe word to stop the fight perhaps. Maybe you should take turns speaking your mind for 5 minutes each rather than shouting over one another. Figure out a way to put your partner in your shoes, and vice versa.

What do you think? What works for you? What have you learned, my little monkey? 😉 Drop us a line if you need some help:

Check in again because Jack and I want to discuss that little thing I mentioned a few paragraphs back…spicing things up!


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  1. Ah yes…some monkeys never learn. I think we all have some innate qualities about ourselves that are hard to change. I notice them within myself and reflect on how I could work on those things that I really want to change. It’s a work in progress!

  2. Love the quote! It is so true that it easy to go to our default setting. I’m going to learn a new trick in my relationship.

  3. Great quote!
    When I get stuck, it will remind me to check in and see if my internal monkey needs some retraining. 🙂
    I can see using it another way as well. We all have people in our lives that keep coming back with the same problem over and over because they don’t really want to solve it. They just want to rehash because ‘monkeys never learn.”
    Thanks again.

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