It’s a lifelong commitment of humbling and diligent servitude. There’s a vow of silence involved. There’s also a vow of poverty. There’s even a vow of celibacy. I just wish I could say that I’m referring to joining a monastery. Nope, instead of separate vows of silence, poverty and celibacy, most men just opt for simplicity and kill three birds with one stone by taking wedding vows instead.
The Vow of Silence: As her first act of business, your wife will waste little time in hacking away at the Bill of Rights. There’s no fighting this one, as the recent landmark Supreme Court decision (MR v. The Wife) established that husbands don’t have any Constitutional rights whatsoever. (On a related topic, hiring Andrew Dice Clay as my legal council was a huge mistake.) Anyway, don’t plan on bearing arms or peacefully assembling once you get married. And forget about Habeas Corpus. But most of all, you can kiss your freedom of speech goodbye.
The Vow of Silence takes many shapes. First, you will notice your vocabulary steadily shrinking. Sure, you’ll pick up a few new words like “spoon rest” and “table runner” as a married man. However, this won’t make up for the dramatic loss of personal pronouns you’ll experience. For instance, here’s a partial list of pronouns you will be forced to retranslate as a married man:
The word “I” is now “we.”
And “me” is now “us.”
Also, “my” becomes “our.”
And finally, what was “mine” is now “ours.”
I soon learned that it’s no longer “my” TV. It’s our TV. And that candy bar isn’t “mine.” It’s ours. Of course, there are some exceptions to this retranslation. For example, things can still be “my” fault. And it can still be “my” turn to take out the garbage. Sound confusing? Don’t worry, your wife will correct your speech accordingly until you get it right.
Unfortunately, this process doesn’t work both ways, mainly because I don’t want to stake claim to anything that’s hers. Those Matchbox 20 CD’s? Hers. The curling iron? Hers. The wine coolers in the fridge? Again, hers. So essentially, for those keeping score, what’s mine is ours and what’s hers is hers.
Finally, the Vow of Silence takes one other form. It’s called “the talk,” and it occurs prior to any social gathering where you might be in a position to open your mouth. Your wife understands the danger in letting you speak freely, and she takes it upon herself to use the car ride over to craft a set of talking points and general etiquette for the ensuing evening. During this briefing, she covers all the jokes and stories you’re not allowed to tell, what subjects you can’t bring up, and which opinions you’re not allowed to share. Sadly, it would have been easier for everyone involved if your wife could have just married a ventriloquist’s dummy instead.
But how do you know when you’re not sticking to the script?
1. Your wife is glaring angrily at you as you tell a story about a recent family reunion involving a backbend competition.
2. You’re actually enjoying yourself at a gathering of your wife’s coworkers.
3. You notice your wife instructing the bar staff to not serve you any more alcohol.
4. You just exchanged high fives with someone you met that night.
5. Your wife has gathered her coat and is pulling you towards the exit at 8:30.
And for the most unmistakable sign you didn’t follow the script, read on…
The Vow of Poverty: My wife’s lavish spending habits are well documented on this site, as is my curmudgeonry. I won’t rehash all of that here, I’ll just share the latest chapter…
Call them what you will: Solicitors, carpetbaggers, door-to-door salesmen, gypsies, grifters… The point is: My wife gainfully employs several dozen of them. This is a far cry from my days as a bachelor. Whereas I used to open the door only wide enough for my shotgun barrel to poke out, my wife vacuums the house in anticipation of their visits. This is my wife’s biggest weakness. Apparently, she figures that if someone is willing to go to the trouble to come all the way out to our house to try and sell us something, the least we can do is buy out their entire inventory.
Unfortunately, it’s not just professional salesmen. I started noticing that every Little League kid and Girl Scout in the neighborhood is riding around on a new bike or hovercraft or whatever incentive was offered for pushing 10,000 units of their particular fundraiser. Sure enough, the saltines and baked beans that had previously stocked my bomb shelter have now been replaced by thin mints.
Believe me, I would love to string razor wire around the perimeter of my house and post a giant neon sign over my doorway that reads “NO Solicitors!” Unfortunately, my wife countered that a sign like that might make them feel unwelcome. And therein lies the genesis of the Vow of Poverty.
So, are you selling something mail-order without a return policy? Come on in. No warranty either? That’s ok. And do you look kind of greasy and suspicious as well? As long as a portion of this sale is for a charity she’s never heard of, my wife is interested. Very interested. Put her down for a gross. Is cash Ok?
The Vow of Celibacy: Ah yes… I’d tell you more, but this topic directly falls under the by-laws of the Vow of Silence. Basically, the rule here is, break the Vow of Silence, and your wife gives you the Vow of Celibacy as well.