It seems impossible, but I have been happily married for over 35 years. This incredible record is probably a result of the marriage of the two most stubborn people in the world. Still, I do have a few words of advice for people considering committing marriage.
First, rules for the men. Years ago, my father gave me three great rules for marriage, and for the most part, I have followed them.
The first rule. Give your wife her own desk, and stay out of it. No matter what file you are missing, no matter how much you need a stamp, stay out of that desk drawer. This is not to give your wife a certain amount of privacy; it is actually to save you from losing your temper. Trust me, there are things in that desk that you really do not want to know about.
The second rule. This rule is very much like the first, but much harder to follow. Never, never, never look into your wife’s purse. Boy, this is hard. No matter how much you need her keys, or anything else, never put your hand in that purse. Take it to her and let her root around in that bag. Not only will you be respecting your wife’s privacy, but it is much safer. The inside of a woman’s purse is about as sanitary as a public toilet in Juarez. Can you imagine the infection that could come from a paper cut contaminated with a 20 year accumulation of rancid makeup mixed with petrified breath mints?
There is a hidden benefit in the second rule. In exchange for never violating the sanctity of the purse, men receive the right of cargo. This means that when asked, wives are supposed to carry something in the purse without complaint. My wife, The Doc, has to be reminded on a regular basis about the right of cargo.
The third rule. Inarguably the most important rule. If for any reason you find that during an argument your wife is demonstrably wrong and you are right; say about the capitol of Turkey or something else you can prove by consulting a dictionary… apologize immediately. It will save time and is cheaper than flowers.
Now, the rules for women. Actually, I don’t have any rules for you. Hell, I’m not even sure that women are the same race as men. The way women like jewelry and other shiny objects they could be evolved from crows.
Still, I do have some timely holiday advice for you. Women give horrible gifts. After 35 years of marriage, counting Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and Father’s Day, I have been the recipient of over 175 such gifts. Frankly, most of them sucked. The Doc, my wife, certainly was trying to give me a good gift, but she has no idea what to give me. Talking to my married friends, it turns out that this is a common problem. So here are the guidelines:
1. Don’t give us clothes unless you think you are married to a metrosexual. If your husband, like me, is not really sure what that word means, he doesn’t want clothes. Most mornings, I just wear what’s next in the closet. My wife once gave me a pink shirt with no pockets, and while it was a poor shirt, it made great rags for cleaning my guns.
2. Almost any man will be grateful for a new electric drill. I have nine, five of them cordless, nevertheless, I would be delighted to get a tenth.
3. Sporting goods are a great idea. Guns, fishing poles, golf clubs, or anything else in this vein. One caution, unless you actually go shooting, fishing, or golfing with your husband, don’t pick out the gift yourself. Ask his best friend to help you. (And Honey, if you are reading this, Chuck knows exactly which Ruger Single Action in .45LC with a 5 ½ inch barrel I want.)
4. Ladies, if you can’t bring yourself to buy any of the above, here is a sure fire winner. You will have to trust me on this, because you won’t understand it, this is a Y linked chromosome gift. Go to the hardware store and buy him 50 feet of good rope. I asked most of my male friends, and almost all of them said they would trade their last birthday gift for 50 feet of good rope.