“Sinking Relationship,” by John Branning

Jul 13th, 2016 | By | Category: Nonfiction, Prose

My wife Carol said something really sweet and profound to me the other day. I wish I’d muted the TV long enough to catch it all.

Carol starts every day by saying, “I love you.” I respond by asking her who she’s on the phone with.

The other evening I said I’d light some candles and suggested we take a romantic bath together. Carol said she wasn’t up for a bath but would wash her hands with me. Actually, I think she said she wanted to wash her hands of me.

We introduced some role reversal into our lovemaking: Carol said she was too tired, and I said I had a headache.

One point of contention was whether the household duties were being split evenly. I said let’s make a list. After I wrote everything down I said I’d done my part, so…

We have a long-standing “joke” the reason we’re still together is because neither of us could get a gun permit. But there are knives all over the kitchen—so it must be love, right?

To keep things fresh, Carol recommended a “date night” once a month. I agreed but find it irritating when the guys honk from the driveway and expect her to run out to the car. Whatever happened to manners?

You’ll hear people say things like, “I married my best friend.” Well, I bet you and your best friend never had a joint checking account, did you?

I looked at myself in the mirror and saw thinning gray hair, wrinkles, sagging muscles and a paunch. Appearing from behind, Carol wrapped her arms around me and said, “You’ve really let yourself go.”

Some people start the morning by checking the obituary page to see if their name is listed. Carol and I read the letters to “Dear Abby” and ask each other, “Did you write this?”

Regardless of what we’re arguing about, one rule is that we never call each other names. We rely on slang for various body parts.

Carol will tell you she married me because I make her laugh. Several years went by before I realized it’s at my expense.

As I write this, Carol and I have been married for 34 years. Many of them happy.

Every so often you’ll hear about a couple married for fifty, sixty, seventy-five years and when asked for the secret to their long relationship will say, “We’ve never argued once.” I can say that’s true for Carol and me as well—we’ve argued many, many times.

How have we managed to stay married for so long? Well, we believe that divorce is not an option. That is, it’s not an affordable option.

All you need is love. But sometimes a spare bedroom comes in handy also.


Defenestration-John BranningJohn, his lovely wife and their three surviving cats (Miles, Sophie and Nate—short for “Concatenate”) live on Annabessacook Lake in Winthrop, Maine (on his driver’s license the town is spelled “WINTHRP”). He is formerly a resident of Boston/Cambridge, South Carolina, Maryland, Ontario CA, and two tours of duty in New York State. The author of Selfie-Facing, he is perhaps best known for the brief period of time he assumed the position of Secretary of State while Alexander Haig was making an ass of himself by misstating the line of constitutional succession after Ronald Reagan got popped.

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