Things that Happen in the Course of a Long Marriage

You start to finish each other’s sentences.

You fight about how to stack the dishwasher. About who leaves every light in the house on and who turns them all off. About the right time to switch to flannel sheets. About money, about sex,
about jobs and ambition. About whether eating all the popsicles in one sitting and leaving the empty box in the freezer is ok. It’s not.

You roll your eyes every time he goes back to the house to check that the door is locked or the iron is really off.

He tells anyone who will listen that all your work is about DEATH and coins the term necropoet, but he also offers you all his best lines. He says, “You can use that in a poem.”

You both learn to keep your opinions to yourself. He teaches you the non-committal “Hmmm.” You say, “Hmmm.”

You stop finishing each other’s sentences because it’s annoying to be so predictable.

You buy a bed, sheets and blankets, couches, end tables, dishes, knickknacks, computers, a house, three lawnmowers, flowers, shrubs, a snow shovel, down comforters, more blankets, a filing cabinet, a second car, a rocking chair, a yellow teddy bear.

You throw away dishes, knickknacks, sheets, blankets, and snow shovels and buy new ones. You give back the rocking chair. You keep the teddy bear that turns out never to belong to any baby and
all three lawnmowers.

You get dogs, train them, argue about who’s the more inconsistent dog trainer, vow that the dog will never sleep on the bed, invite the dog onto the bed nightly. You take each dog on that long last
visit to the vet, one of you always surprised that the end has come so soon, the other not. You call in sick and spend the day curled around each other in the big bed.

One of you starts to fall in love with someone else, then stops.

One of you thinks about leaving, then stays.

For his birthday, you buy him an app that lets him check from anywhere whether the iron is off.

Every night when the two of you walk the new dog, he stops at the bend in the river where the deer browse the green shoots so you can watch them for as long as you want. He knows what you cannot say about how the deer live inside you, and he makes a home for them there.

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