River's Rules of Happily Ever After

Author owns no rights to Firefly, and no copyright infringement is intended. Fanfic only.


Marriage, like many things in life, is a partnership. There cannot be a happy marriage unless both parties work in unison toward that goal.

Sometimes it may seem like a lost cause. Do not despair, for you are far from the first, or only, woman to feel that way. I believe that it is part of a natural progression following the glucose type 'high' of the initial passion between the couple.

There are a few simple things that we, as women, can do to ensure that we have the fairy tale that every girl dreams of while growing up. As an aide and guide, I have committed some of these to paper, drawing upon my own experience, so that others may know what I have learned the hard way.

No, I meant by experience. Yes, that's it. By experience.


1) Men are fickle creatures, with fragile egos and often given to whims of fancy. Therefore it is often necessary to find the right balance in order to allow your mate to maintain the illusion that he does, indeed, 'wear the pants', so to speak, in your relationship. For instance, when he decides that he simply must have the latest available optics for his rifle, dress in something very revealing, and offer to accompany him. Insist on it, in fact. He will change his mind.

2) Men are often given to having a wandering eye. It is simply their way, do not be alarmed by it. Men will look, even if you're standing there with them. They'll simply be more subtle. Sneaky, in other words. I have found that a well placed glare is often the most simple solution to this problem. Should the subject prove resistant to that, however, feel free to move to the next phase, which is a tearful look, complete with trembling lip and cracked voice, (you may need to rehearse), with a very loud and public declaration of 'you don't love me anymore!'. That will do the trick.

Oh, and when he tries to comfort you later on, and he will, allow him to do so. It will make him feel better, and likely inspire a rather romantic and passionate evening of making up.

3) Once married, men tend to lose their focus. To them, the lifelong search for an appropriate mate, the woman who will bear his progeny, has ended. In short, he can relax now. There are various ways to jolt the average male from this reverie, some more comical than others. My favorite is to dress in his favorite outfit, and announce that I'm 'going out'. An argument will almost certainly ensue, culminating in various concessions on his part to convince you not to go out 'like that'. Be gentle with your demands, however. If he caves too quickly, and gives too much, there won't be anything to work with should the problem arise again.

4) Drop casual, off-topic lines into your conversation in order to ensure that your husband is, in fact, listening to you. If he reacts in confusion, then he is paying proper attention, and you can wave it off as a 'crazy' moment. If he responds just as he has been, stop talking, and began to prepare a bed on the sofa. He should get the hint. If he doesn't, at least his bed is made.

5) The easiest way to get the male species to agree with us is to convince them that it was their idea in the first place. Whatever it was. Gush over them with praise at how easily they have solved your dilemma, and promise to always come to him in the future when you have similar problems.

6) Men believe that all women suffer from 'moods'. Encourage this belief. Foster it. On those days when you wish to have some quiet time, simply be 'in a mood'. As he is unlikely to enjoy bedding down on the sofa, alone, he will take the hint, and not bother you. Don't forget to make it up to him later, however.

7) If your husband ever threatens to hit you, apply the metatarsal of your choice to the temporal lobe near the ocular. . . .well, never mind. Just leave him. It's not a problem I've had, anyway. Well, once. But that was before we were married. And I did stab him first. A little.

8) Remember that all major decisions within a marriage must be made by both parties, after informed discussion between the two. Be sure and have the decision made before the talk begins. Things will go much faster that way.

9) Avoid using the 'headache' angle very often. Eventually, you may really have a headache, and need comfort. And a smoother. And perhaps some cuddling.

10) 'Crazy moment'. Perhaps it will come back to me.

11) Men have rituals. Do not intrude upon them, nor interrupt them. Cleaning firearms, a drink with comrades, a good cigar after dinner, (and outside) are among these rituals. These times are male oriented, and should not be disturbed. Unless, of course, they go on too long.

12) Men do have feelings. They will deny it, loudly. They will protest at the very idea that they have feelings. But they do. Recognize those feelings, and try not to tromp on them too badly. A grown man crying, for any reason other than sleeping on the couch, alone, is a terrible thing.

13) Make every effort to ensure your mate that yes, he is very manly, and you could never have done better in a million years. That way, when you are forced to mention how much better you could have done, it will hurt more. Pain is scary. I learned that from my husband, by the way. We must make use of every weapon we have in order to keep the husband in line. It's for his own good, however, so there's no need to feel guilt over it.

14) Men love their toys. Let them, so long as it doesn't interfere with the home.

15) Never start a serious discussion by saying 'we need to talk'. Men are conditioned from birth to completely ignore whatever follows that phrase. Instead try something along the lines of, 'if you know what's good for you, you'll listen'. Men are not immune to threats of loss of privileges.

16) Conditioning is important. Once he is properly trained to know the proper responses, many of your problems will fade. Occasional slip-ups are to be expected, and should be weathered with a modicum of patience. But not too much patience.

17) Men have no concept of limitations. They will cheerfully kill themselves, insisting all the while that 'I don't need a gorram doc to tell me my back hurts'. In times like these, it may be necessary to fake an illness of your own, in order to get your mate into the infirmary. At which point he can be sedated, and proper medical attention received. Have his favorite food prepared when he awakens, as he will be angry. Food is the anti-sulk.

18) Facial expressions can be used to correct improper behavior, if properly employed. A raised eyebrow, wrinkled nose, or pouty lips can often say more than a hundred words. Again, this is a type of conditioning. Don't expect them to work at once, or overnight. The results will be directly attributable to the amount of time you have invested in proper conditioning.

19) Boys will be boys, no matter what. When he comes dragging in after a brawl in which he and his friends have participated, patch him up carefully, making soothing gestures and sounds. Then, when he's fixed, go and fix him something to eat. By the time he finishes, you will have had time to make his bed. On the couch.

20) If you're a pilot, avoid romantic. . .interludes, shall we call them, on the bridge. It is simply amazing how easy it is to hit the wrong button at times like that. Or how sensitive the com button is to pressure at just the wrong time. Not to mention the likelihood of bumping the helm, unawares, and ending up several thousand, or more, kilometers off course. Not that I've had that happen to me of course. Not at all. I've heard stories. That's all. Just stories. Never a problem for me. Not at all.

21) Never allow your husband to forget that it is his goal in life to make you happy. You do this by ensuring that if you aren't happy, neither is he.

It's quite impossible, of course, for a simple list such as this to effectively cover every problem you might encounter. And each man will react or respond differently. So simply use these as guidelines to help you establish who the real authority is in the home.

Here's to Happily Ever After!