Nobody, I hasten to announce, has asked me to formulate a set of rules for the perpetuation of marital bliss and the preservation of a sacred union. Maybe what we need is a brand-new set of rules. Anyway, ready or not, here they come, the result of fifty years spent in studying the nature and behavior, mistakes and misunderstandings of the American Male and his Mate,
RULE ONE: Neither party to a sacred union should run down, disparage or badmouth the other’s former girls or beaux. The tendency to attack their character, looks, intelligence, capability and achievements is a common case of domestic discontent.
RULE TWO: A man should make an honest effort to get the names of his wife’s friends right. This is not easy. The average wife keeps in touch with at least seven old classmates. These ladies known as “the girls” are often nicknamed: Molly, Muffy, Missy, Midge, Mabby, Maddy and so on. The careless husband calls them all Mugs.
RULE THREE: A
husband should not insult his wife publicly, at parties. He should insult her in the privacy of their home.
RULE FOUR: The wife, who keeps saying, “Isn’t that just like a man?” and a husband, who keeps saying, “Oh, well you know how women are,” are likely to grow farther and farther apart through the years.
RULE FIVE: When a husband is reading aloud, a wife should sit quietly in her chair, relaxed but attentive. If he has decided to read the Republican platform, an article on elm blight), or blow-by-blow account of a prize fight, it is not going to be easy, but she should at least pretend to be interested. She should not break in to correct her husband’s pronunciation, or to tell him one of the socks is wrong side out, swing her foot, file her fingernails, catch a mosquito. The good wife allows the mosquito to bite her when the husband is reading aloud.
RULE SIX: A husband should try to remember where things are around the house so that he doesn’t have to wait for his wife to get home before he can put his hands on what he wants. Perhaps every wife should draw for her husband a detailed map of the house, showing clearly the location of everything he might need. Trouble is, he would lay the map down, somewhere and not be able to find it until his wife got home.
RULE SEVEN: If your husband ceases to call you “Sugarfoot” or “Candy Eyes”, or “Cutie Fudge Pie” during the first year of your marriage, it is not necessarily a sign that he no longer cares or has come to take you for granted. It is probably an indication that he has recovered his normal perspective.
RULE EIGHT: Two persons living in holy matrimony must avoid slipping into the subjunctive mood. The safest place for a happily married couple is the indicative mood, and of its tenses the present is the most secure. The future is a domain of threats and worries, and the past is a wasteland of sorrows and regrets.
I can hope in conclusion, that this treatise itself will not start, in any household, a widening gap that can never be closed.
By James Grover Thurber