The elderly couple arrived at their new smaller home in Florida, having sold their big house in the Midwest. The 1950’s bungalow was charming, with a lovely garden. When they first saw it on Zillow they couldn’t believe the low price. The realtor told them the current owners were going through a nasty divorce and needed to sell fast, despite only living here for 6 months. The stress of moving into their first home had torn them apart.
As they watched the movers unloading the moving truck they began speculating about what might have prevented the seller’s divorce. They thought it quite a shame to live in such a beautiful home and still be unhappy. A pact or marriage constitution was what they did to avoid the same fate.
During dinner that evening, they both sat at the kitchen table with pens and one sheet of paper between them. At the top was written, “Marriage Bill of Rights.” Following that was a makeshift Preamble:
We the married, in order to preserve a solid union, fair and equitable emotional justice to ensure domestic tranquility, within reason as we’ve seen many seasons and know each other’s buttons all too well, do ordain and establish this document in an attempt not to ruin a good thing as fools are wont to do.
A list of 5 items written in somewhat shaky penmanship followed:
1) The Right to Attention. If wife puts on a new dress, husband must look up from the playoff game and give positive response. No comments will be sought about the fatness or non-fatness of wife’s bottom, nor will it be given voluntarily to injure. Likewise, when husband needs more iced tea watching the playoffs, wife will happily serve, preferably with a kiss on the forehead.
2) The Right to Hashing It Out. If husband leaves the bingo parlor with that harlot Maxine but does nothing more than drive her home, his case will be heard and proof of innocence accepted. If in a fit of irrational and unwarranted jealousy wife puts X-Lax in husband’s dinner it will be confessed before said dinner is consumed, and a sandwich offered instead.
3) The Right to Assistance. Duties inside the house such as cleaning, dish washing, laundry and cooking will be wife’s domain with the exception of plumbing and spider removal. Duties outside the house such as grass mowing, car maintenance and leaf raking will be husband’s responsibility with the exception of growing lovely flowers for both to enjoy. Should either party be dead tired and just can’t the other will assist without complaint or arthritic excuse.
4) The Right to Discuss Vigorous Affection. Ahem. If wife or husband wishes to discuss that which is awkward to discuss without blushing or making the other blush, it shall be discussed anyway and both will survive it. Both wife and husband agree to accommodate in the extra bedroom as needed, retiring for slumber in their own bedrooms with door shut to inhibit “loud snore insomnia.” Arthritic flare-ups will be accepted here as the only excuse to decline, at which time snuggling may and shall be substituted.
5) The Right to Affection. Both parties agree not to take the other for granted. Husband is required to hug wife when weeping occurs, be it from sadness or her favorite soap opera. Wife will likewise show empathy when husband’s team loses the playoff and is required to administer a neck rub.
Satisfied they had found equitable and fair terms for life in their new home; the old couple put down their pens and held hands. The “Marriage Bill of Rights” was affixed to the Frigidaire with his Miami Dolphins magnet holding the top and her Silver Hair Salon magnet securing the bottom.
From that day forth, it was a more perfect union.