Before I started writing this story, I counted the number of rules we’ve set for ourselves since we got married. Hundred? Two hundred? Maybe more.

I don’t remember. We didn’t write them down so it’s hard to remember. The truth is, if we wrote them down, we would have needed a hundred yards of paper to be able to write everything down.

Each day comes with different issues and each issue demands a new rule. The funny thing is, we don’t remember the existence of most of the rules until someone breaks them. This is how the first rule came about…

I was at the kitchen cooking when my husband joined. I had fresh fish, salted fish, and mɔmɔne on display. He tried to help with the cooking. A few seconds later, the scent in the kitchen changed.

The scent started innocuously and got deadly by the second. I thought the scent was coming from the salted fish or the mɔmɔne. I smelt all of them and they were good. Not knowing my husband had farted. The smell was so bad it stayed in my nose all day. I kept spitting as if I was pregnant.

I cooked a great meal but I couldn’t eat some. First rule; Never fart in the kitchen or while we are eating. If you have to do it, rip a loud one so the other person can run for cover before the scent takes over.”

My husband loved to say sorry. It was his second nature. He could even say sorry for breathing. It was so easy for him to say sorry that it became difficult to even pick a fight with him. I found it very hard to say sorry. I’m either right or you’re wrong. No two ways about that.

When we had our first fight, the fault was mine but I never accepted my mistake because I didn’t want to say sorry. There were so many instances I had to apologize to him but I couldn’t.

He asked, “Why do you find it so hard to apologize? Would you die if you do?” That day we updated the rules. He said, “If you can’t apologize or say sorry for your mistakes, just bring me a gift whenever we fight, I’ll forgive you.”

I bought socks the first time when I had to say sorry. I bought him a handkerchief too. I bought him a bowtie knowing didn’t like bow ties. I bought a lot of cheap gifts in place of an apology until he said, “It’s enough. Let’s make it money.” Then I changed. I said a lot of sorries until we both began to say sorry for fun.  

From dating till we got married, he hated the idea of being the one to initiate intimacy. I was always the one starting the match and immediately I initiate, he will take over, dictating pace, style, and making the loudest noise. We had to change that. I also loved to be taken by surprise. We made a rule for that.

I said, “When I initiate, you don’t have to do anything until the end. When you initiate, you’ll dictate everything.” He made jokes about it; “But this is easy? Which kind of man wouldn’t like it when his lady starts and finishes it?” I said, “Let’s wait and see.”

I’ll initiate. Just after two or three minutes, when he was having a ball, I’ll jump off him and sleep. Nothing he will say would make me do it. Whenever I did that to him, he got frustrated.

He would stay awake and yawn for the rest of the night. He didn’t like it. He started initiating. Some night we’ll crash. Just when I was about to initiate, he’ll get up and say, “Hey…hey…stop right there. I was about to initiate.” We’ll argue it out and sleep until later, he’ll sneak through me and have his bite.    

We made rules for fun but each rule we made had a purpose; to make us better. I read about the couples who made terms and conditions for their marriage after their honeymoon and realized how much people leave to chance when it comes to relationships.

I didn’t know so much before marriage but things like finances, family, family planning, who buys what, and who pays for what were all discussed before we even thought about marriage.

Maybe that’s why we could afford to play around with little things like where to fart and where not to.

We are in our eleventh year of marriage and guess what, we still make rules. Our last rule was made a few days ago. We attended a funeral and he met his first girlfriend. I know their story because he never shut up about it when we were dating.

After introducing me to her, I stood aside and watched them. The way they were laughing and taping each other ‘resembles’ your eyes. Every second the lady would touch his shoulder or his arm.

They stood there for about five minutes and my husband wore a smile throughout the conversation. After the funeral, I sat next to him and never said a word until we got home. When we got home he asked, ”Why are you quiet? If it’s about Linda then I’m sorry.” I responded, “So here’s the rule…”

He screamed, “Hey! hey! hey! I’ll never see her again so no need for this rule.” I continued, “We don’t talk to exes. If you must, you must do it with a frown on your face.” He said, “Oh so it’s about the smile I wore while talking to her? Jealousy mama.” 

To me, everything in life, including human relationships is governed by rules. You can call it terms and conditions if you may but however you call it, these rules should be everything that seek to grow the individuals in the relationship and bring them together in a way they can support each other’s happiness and growth.

Anything apart from this would be the death of the relationship. I’m not saying my marriage is the best. All I’m saying is that, when you take care of the big questions at the initial stages of the relationship, after marriage, you’ll have enough time to make fun of the little issues that come your way.  

—Hadassah