Not the life long happiness engendered by the institution (although it does) but rules within a marriage.
I think we all have lots of them: some unwritten but nevertheless as strongly adhered to as if graven in stone (such as, ‘you will never,ever dutch oven me’) and others more verbally acknowleged (turn and turn about with dishwasher emptying in theory).
I recently came up with a new one. Nobody in this marraige is permitted to make an irritated reply in response to a non-accusatory statement.
Such as, oh, I don’t know,off the top of my head… say, one partner accidentally knocked a whole bottle of lotion onto the freshly cleaned bathroom floor and didn’t even notice and the second partner, on discovering the spill made some out loud but matter of fact comment about how it would take a lot of cleaning up. Yeah, in that situation the first partner is not entitled to snap ‘what?!’ when he only half hears you.
Trust me, baby: if I wanted to make a big deal out of it, you’d be needing earplugs and I really wasn’t annoyed because a) I know you are very clumsy; b) you genuinely didn’t notice; c) you would have cleaned up if you’d be aware or even if I’d asked you to.
I truly wasn’t annoyed. Right up until the time you snapped at me. And then there was a very long time that might have just sounded like silence but which was really me fighting the 75% of my brain that wanted to march over to where you were lounging on the bed and show you a very safe place to keep your lotion bottle so it wouldn’t spill. My better nature won that battle but it doesn’t always and, given that you are horrifically clumsy, a rule would be a good idea.
So no irritated, snappy or dismissive responses, please.