Read The Instruction Book

[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hen we first got engaged, the minister refused to marry us until we read an instructional book. The books cost a cool sixty dollars each. The reverend recommended we buy two. So, I put mine on layaway.

Jamie and I became dedicated matrimonial students. We completed our marriage homework every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I learned basic marital skills I might never have learned with other twenty-dollar books.

For instance: the book recommended using the phrase, “How’s your love account, honey?” The partner responds by attaching a dollar amount to the level of spousal intimacy. I once asked Jamie how her account was. She told me I’d overdrafted twice and made us late on the electric bill. Then, she confiscated my wallet and cut up my debit cards.

Another book admonishment: men are microwaves and women are ovens. Meaning, men anger and cool down fast; women take their time doing both. Whoever wrote that never met my wife, because she’s neither. I’d liken her to a stovetop pressure cooker full of tomato puree. Just yesterday, I asked Jamie if she’d kindly quiet the damn vacuum while I watched baseball – for my love account.

Now, I’m covered in what look like rug burns.

More book advice: hold hands while arguing. This one is marvelous for young couples. Especially when one of you is a pressure cooker. Once, during a disagreement on a road trip, I attempted to hold Jamie’s hand. At first, it seemed to work. She quit talking. Then, she smiled, pulled the car over, and left me for dead in Milton, Florida.

I would’ve called a cab, but she’d frozen my love account.

Illustration by Deidre Wicks 

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