What are you like with a flat pack?

One of the biggest differences between my husband and I is our approach to manuals.

Me: Rip open box, open all little bags with screw things in them, start assembling.

Husband: Sit and read manual until a solid and comprehensive understanding of [insert object/piece of furniture/new child’s toy] is reached and then, after carefully inspecting each and every bag, correlate all pieces with the ‘your box should contain x, y, z’ section of the manual, keep all pieces and bags separate. Go to tool box and retrieve required tools for assembly, along with some you ‘might’ need. Return to construction site, fully prepared and organised….only to find your wife has already assembled said item and is airily claiming there were ‘spare’ pieces that are not necessary and can be discarded.

The next course of action, is, of course, a heated argument, as standard procedure.

Anyone else have similar scenarios playing out at their house?

We have come to a happy medium, over the last 20 years, with me on the floor constructing and him, manual in hand, directing from the sidelines. It works πŸ™‚

I have never much been one for rules whereas my husband is quite rule orientated and has been known to cry at the most inopportune moments “You’re not supposed to do that!!” Which always makes me stop what I am doing immediately and follow the rules. Yeah, right.

We had a discussion the other day about rules and instructions and found ourselves talking about the difference between the two.

I will spare you the blow by blow reenactment of the conversation and simply say, we came to the conclusion that rules are usually a list of ‘don’t’s’ and instructions are usually a list of ‘how to’s’.

In life, I think lots of people have trouble following the rules, partly because there is always that question, in my mind anyway, of “Well, WHY can’t I do that?”

Instructions however, seem friendlier and somehow more reasonable. A list of guidelines, rather than a heavy handed ‘DON’T’ list.

People often think that faith/religion comes with a big list of rules, full of don’t’s and what NOT to do. To me, it’s more an instruction manual, full of do’s and how to’s.

Instructions aren’t restrictive, like a set of rules is. Instructions are guidelines set out in an easy to use fashion, with a step by step process to reaching an end goal.

Gradually, over the years, just like my assembling technique, I have seen the sense and benefit of trying to follow the instruction manual that my faith provides me with.

Living by a set of rules brings guilt, repression and bitterness.

Living by an instruction manual brings guidance, freedom, cohesiveness and progression toward a worthwhile end product.

What do you live by? Rules or an instruction manual?


7 thoughts on “What are you like with a flat pack?

  1. I have a few personal rules – honesty, integrity. I don’t like rules as a rule. Ha! And I do like others to put their rules on me (unless that person is paying me). And I do use instructions when attempting to put furniture together. I’d end up with modern art otherwise.


  2. Nice distinction between rules and instructions.

    Reminds me of the opening salvos of WWIII, just a couple of months ago (in case y’all missed it). I spent a couple of hours one evening with a brand-new-outta-the-box mobile radio and its operating manual. Cool radio, all the features I was looking for. Programmed it the way I wanted. Next morning, Mr. Don’t Need No Stinking Manual spent 5 minutes overwriting everything I’d done in two hours and THEN had the nerve to tell me it was somehow my fault. The end of the war came when I announced that he could play with it all he wanted. Program it any way that looked good to him. Just let me know when he was done and I’d hit reset.

    I LOVE that radio! It’s just exactly the way I want it.


    • Esther, you had me laughing out loud as I read this to my ‘rules’ husband πŸ™‚ He is feeling your pain. I seem to recall I may have done something similar with his digital radio when it was brand new…..


  3. I am a big rule follower, and I expect others to be as well. Things would go so much smoother πŸ™‚ I do appreciate the instruction manual but I tend to read as I go, because as much as I love rules I am also impatient.


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