tobysdad, this was posted in the Marriage section, but it seems to apply here as well. This instance may be a case of someone creating a lot of rules in order to maintain control of his wife. This reflects insecurity and lack of manliness on the part of the rule-enforcer:
Secret Rules in the Family
Some rules are OK and serve useful purposes. Safety rules, social rules (Thou shalt not put thy wife down in company!), and doing particular jobs such as washing dishes, dusting, etc. are useful. But, many couples have implicit or secret rules they inherited or brought with them into the relationships. These unexpressed rules can cause dismay and conflict.
Some rules may seem silly, but rules, remember, are sacred to the one who makes them. Even if the actual loss is trivial the fact that a rule was violated often leads to intense feelings. In a distressed marriage, each partner thinks he or she has made the most adjustments, compromises, etc. Breaking a rule is seen as evidence the partner is not trying.
Many couples believe that problems should not occur in marriages at all, and when they do they think “If he only loved me enough, we would not quarrel.