As I reported some time ago, the U.S. Census Bureau is worried about the rate of divorce, so much so that its chief family statistician, Dr. Paul C. Glick, has become almost hortatory on the subject. After citing the dreadful statistic in his pamphlet on "Recent Changes in American Families," Glick writes, "Lawyers may help, as may economists, psychologists, counselors, social workers, religious leaders and journalists."
Glick's mention of my own profession has emboldened me to venture certain rules that I believe important to the preservation of a more or less happy marriage. Rule One, if you remember, was, "Troth Is a Good Thing;" Rule Two was "You Borned Us" and Rule Three, "You Have to Do It Again."
If you missed any of the above treatises, all I can say is that I'm sorry. However, I intend to divulge additional rules from time to time, and you may as well start now with Rule Four, which is, simply stated, "Move Over."
As you may judge from their capsule titles, the first three rules for a successful marriage require a certain self-sacrifice and compromise. Rule Four is different. It suggests an orderly way of letting it all hang out without at the same time provoking rancor.
Let me give you an example of how the rule works. My wife recently purchased a car. It was to be her car. We agreed that she was to pay for it, because we really didn't have to have that car. Also, because I couldn't a second car. Also, as I explained, I was always willing and ready to share my car - I mean the family car. So on this second car, she was on her own. Is that clear?
So on a recent morning, she was rushing out the door on her way to Boston, and she paused at the threshold: "The car will be delivered this afternoon. You'll have to go to the bank and get the money. I've arranged the whole thing."
"Wait just a minute," I said. "You go to the bank. This is your car."
"I can't go to the bank because I have to go to Boston. And I told you I've arranged for it. All you have to do is to sign."
"But it's your car. You sign."
"What possible difference does it make? We can straighten it out day after tomorrow."
So I went to the bank and signed the note and paid for the car. Her car. My signature. Do you see?
And when she came home on Wednesday, she was delighted to see the car, and we had dinner and not one word did she say about straightening anything out. So she got into bed first, and I sat up and read a couple of chapters, and when I got into bed, I could feel her lying a little toward my side, and I said, "Move Over."
"Move Over." It is the best way I know to assert yourself, to remind your partner of a grievance or of the affliction of wounds.
It stops pillow talk. After you say, "Move Over," such gambits as "you didn't even ask me about Boston" would seem silly.
Because "move over" means "lie there and think about it. I don't care what you did in Boston."
"Move Over" should not be uttered for light or transient reasons. It is only as good as it is heartfelt. As the man at the bank explained on the telephone, "It doesn't really make any difference but your wife came in this morning and signed a new note, so I'm mailing the old one back to you."
Do you feel put upon, used, unfairly treated, not thought about? Try 'Move Over'. It makes many a marriage last.