I've seen some weird marriages in my time. There are couples who share lives but do not share the same religion, politics or ethnic background. I've seen the mating of a smoker and a non-smoker, a wrestling enthusiast and an opera lover, a No. 3 and a No. 10 on the electric blanket, and one spouse who spends money like she has her own printing press and the other one who would donate a dollar to Mother Teresa and ask for change. But somehow these marriages work.

There is one bit of dissidence, however, that will bring a marriage to its knees. It is when one partner reads directions and a mate does not.I'm not going to tell you which one I am in this union. I will tell you only that my husband has a file of every manual for every appliance in our house, our automobile, cameras and original blueprints IN TRIPLICATE.

I have been known to wrap my gum in the manual for the VCR.

The man will not open a box until the instructions tell him which end is up. I hate that. All of the major arguments in our marriage have been fought in the name of impatience vs. better-to-read-than-be-sorry.

Last year he bought me a camera. I started pushing buttons. He jerked it out of my hands and said, "Do you know what you are doing?" He shoved the manual in my hands. If I ever want to open my own camera factory in Germany, I have the directions.

For Christmas, he bought me a bread machine. The directions on the box said, "Easy as One, Two, Three." I believed that with all my heart. Then my husband, the Pillsbury Doughboy with an attitude, appeared at my elbow turning pages of a book that should have been bound. "Don't even think of plugging it in until we've walked through the instructions," he said.

"I don't want to walk anywhere," I said, lifting the lid and dumping in the flour.

He slammed down the lid. "WAIT A MINUTE! What are you going to do about these digital pads?"

"I'm going to press the one that says `Start,"' I said defiantly.

"Like you hung the wallpaper with the grapes upside down, and took the pulsator out of the washer and couldn't put it back, and started the popcorn popper before you unpacked the lid?"

May he never retire.