A recent expedition to Barnes & Noble (motto: We have too many books. I think they are reproducing. Dear God, help us!) revealed an abundance of for dummies books. We are talking about epic tomes with majestic titles like “Eating Spaghetti For Dummies.”
    It seems as though there is an unlimited demand for for dummies manuals. There are probably books regarding such nincompoopery as “Putting On Socks For Dummies” and “Scratching Your Nose For Dummies.”     
    If people are willing to pay big bucks for instructional pamphlets regarding such mundane feats as chewing gum while walking, a guy could probably clean up with a book about something that is truly difficult and important. Staying married would be a good example.     
    A book titled “A Guy’s Guide to Staying Married” (wives will instinctively add the “For Dummies” part) would be a bestseller. As a public service for guys who have a poor understanding of what is expected of them after the “I do’s,” (approximately 100 percent of married men), I will offer a sneak preview.     
    - Remember those three little words and say them often.
    This is no secret for guys who, like me, have been married longer than the running time of a YouTube LOL cat video. Those three little words, “I am sorry,” have prevented untold amounts of suffering. The reason is simple: Whenever a husband is certain he is right, he is almost certainly wrong.     
    Early in our marriage, I was extremely late for supper one evening because our Holsteins had gotten out. It was my wife’s fault. OK, I was the one who neglected to latch the gate. But I had been preoccupied with memorizing my wife’s decree regarding bathroom usage. Was it close the door and lift the seat? Or the other way around?     
    Thus distracted, I forgot to lock the gate. Our cows got out, and I ran nearly the length of a marathon while chasing them back in. And what were my wife’s first words after causing me all that grief?
    “You’re late.”     
    In the heat of that moment, I was tempted to recount all the times when she was late. Instead, I swallowed my ire and mumbled, “I am sorry.” I said this not only to keep the peace, but also because if I put the blame where I thought it belonged, I likely would not get any, um, chocolate chip cookies for the foreseeable future.
    The lesson is simple: It is probably your fault. Just apologize already.     
    - Share responsibilities.
    Real men are willing to help out around the house. Say that you are spending quality time with your toddler – teaching the tyke about such important cultural touchstones as the “Gilligan’s Island” theme song – when you notice a deadly aroma emanating from the child’s diaper region.
    At times such as this, a real man does not hesitate. A real man hands the child off to its mother and informs her that it is imperative he check the pressure levels on the car’s tires right now. He implies this will not only save lives, it will also save money which can then be spent on a nice restaurant meal.
    Your wife will be so grateful that she will overlook that nasty diaper business. And later, she might even be in the mood for chocolate chip cookies.     
    - Keep the romance alive.
    This means buying gifts for her birthday, your anniversary, Armistice Day and any other date that is even remotely romantic. The problem here is that the average guy’s memory is overloaded with things like Joe DiMaggio’s batting average and the correct PSI levels for the car’s tires. There is no room for anything romance-related. What to do?
    My strategy involves buying my wife a romantic gift whenever it occurs to me. In other words, randomly.     
    My wife will ask, “What’s this for?” to which I’ll reply, “The Big Day will soon be here and I just couldn’t wait.”
    The beauty of this tactic is that a Big Day is always on the horizon. This makes my system completely foolproof.     
    Should you opt to buy clothing for your female life companion, just remember two words: size 2. Do not even try to select the correct color or style; you will inevitably get it wrong. Just buy something in a size 2 and your wife will think, “How sweet, he thinks I’m a size 2. And he must be really color blind.”     
    She will exchange your gift for something she likes which means she gets to go shopping. At the end of the day, her appreciation for the gift will be transferred to her thoughtful, romantic guy.     
    And by golly, you have been such a good boy that it might be time for some chocolate chip cookies.    
    Jerry is a recovering dairy farmer from Volga, South Dakota. He and his wife, Julie, have two grown sons and live on the farm where Jerry’s great-grandfather homesteaded over 110 years ago. Jerry currently works full time for the Dairy Star as a staff writer/ad salesman. Feel free to E-mail him at: jerry.n@dairystar.com.