A set of rules can keep your marriage afloat on the Rock

Now that the June wedding season is nearly over (thank goodness!), it might be prudent to offer some advice to those who have recently succumbed to the marriage bug.

Sixty years ago, James Thurber penned “My Own Ten Rules for a Happy Marriage.” One would presume that these rules are still sufficient to help a husband avoid a blow on the head with a glass ashtray, so I would not advocate discounting them. But time marches on, and here on Vashon Island, things are a little different. In that spirit, I offer the following “Ten Rules for a Happy Marriage on Vashon Island”:

1. Never disparage your partner’s Tibetan prayer flags, scented candles, essential oils, new chain saw or emergency generator. Even if they make your nose run or your ears hurt, just smile when asked if you like them and say, “They’re nice, dear.”

2. Never question the need to go into town, even if it’s only to shop for something your partner has no intention of buying. Everyone needs a day away from the Island, and the ferry system can’t survive without lots of discretionary trips.

3. Don’t even think about avoiding the Strawberry Festival, even if last year some snotty kid dumped a plate of strawberry shortcake on your new shoes. When asked if you want to go, just answer, “Yes, that would be nice, dear,” and remember that there’s a beer garden. Wine, too, but it’s tainted with jazz.

4. Never disparage your partner for not wanting to get a building permit. He/she probably knows what he/she’s doing. When the new deck collapses during a dinner party, just exclaim that you’re glad you have a spouse who can fix it.

5. When your spouse’s car gets low on gas, fill it up. Don’t tell your spouse you filled it up in Seattle and used the savings to pay the ferry fare you incurred in order to go shopping for something your partner thinks is frivolous.

6. When it’s your turn to make dinner, never thaw out a frozen, mass-produced pizza. Do your stomach a favor and get a decent pizza at The Rock. I recommend the Veggie Tostada.

7. No matter how many animals there are in your home or who brought them, you have to love them all. When the cat vomits on your bookshelf, just remark “Oh dear, I’ll have to clean that up.” Just remember that someone else can be assigned to clean the litter box.

8. Be happy that you have one theater, and don’t pine for big city entertainment. It’s not that great, anyway, unless maybe Diana Krall is performing.

9. Never worry about where the kids are. They couldn’t have gone too far, unless they stole your ferry pass. Remember that it’s only a few years before they leave anyway, and practice makes perfect.

10. Whatever you do, don’t do anything else that would offend your independent-minded spouse. I realize this final rule is non-specific and ill-defined, but I’m simply saying be careful. If you fail in this respect, do the dishes.

Now it’s possible that that my wife will read this. She looked over my shoulder as I was writing a draft of it and rolled her eyes. I trust that when she reads it this time, she will say something like, “That’s nice, dear.”

— Greg Wessel is a geologist and curator of Two Wall Gallery.

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