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Ryan puts his key in the lock. He turns toward me and pauses. “I’m sorry,” he says.

“No, me, too,” I say. But I don’t really know what I am even sorry for. I feel as if I’ve been sorry for months now without a reason. What am I really doing wrong here? What is happening to us? I’ve read books on it. I’ve read the articles that show up in all the women’s magazines about marital ruts and turning the heat up in your marriage. They don’t tell you anything real. They don’t have any answers.

Ryan opens the door, and Thumper runs toward us. His excitement only highlights our own misery. Why can’t we be more like him? Why can’t I be easy to please? Why can’t Ryan be that happy to see me?

“I’m going to take a shower,” Ryan says.

I don’t say anything back. He heads to the bathroom, and I sit down on the floor and pet Thumper. His fur soothes me. He licks my face. He nuzzles my ear. For a minute, I feel OK.

“Goddammit!” Ryan calls from the bathroom.

I close my eyes for a moment. Bracing myself.

“What?” I call to him.

“There is no f**king hot water. Did you call the landlord?”

“I thought you were calling the landlord!”

“Why do I always have to do that stuff ? Why is it always up to me?” he asks. He has opened the bathroom door and is standing there in a towel.

“I don’t know,” I say. “You just normally do. So I assumed you were going to be the one to handle it. Sorry.” It is clear by the way I say it that I am not sorry.

“Why don’t you ever do what you say you’re going to do? How hard is it to just pick up the goddamn phone and call the landlord?”

“I never said I was going to do it. If you wanted me to do it, you should have said something. I’m not a mind reader.”

“Oh, OK. Got it. My apologies. I thought it was clear that if we have no hot water, someone needs to call the landlord.”

“Yeah,” I say. “That is obvious. And it’s normal for me to assume that you will do it. Since you are the person who normally does that. Just like I am the one who does all the f**king laundry in this house.”

“Oh, so you do the laundry, and that makes you some sort of saint?”

“Fine. You can do your laundry, then, if it doesn’t matter who does it. Do you know how to use the washing machine?”

Ryan laughs at me. No, he scoffs at me.

“Do you?” I say. “I’m not being funny. I’ll bet you a hundred bucks you don’t know how it works.”

“I’m sure I could figure it out,” he says. “I’m not as much of a complete moron as you make me out to be.”

“I don’t make you out to be anything.”

“Oh, yes, Lauren. Yes, you do. You act like you’re the most perfect person in the whole world and you’re stuck with your stupid husband who can’t do a damn thing but call the landlord. You know what? I’ll be the one who gets the hot water fixed. Since you do all the complicated stuff for smart people, like the laundry.” He starts angrily putting his clothes back on.

“Where are you even going?” I say to him.

“To see if I can fix the f**king thing!” he says, putting on his shoes with equal parts anger and haste.

“Now? It’s almost midnight. You need to stay here and talk to me.”

“Let’s drop it, Lauren,” Ryan says. He walks to the front door. His hand is on the doorknob, getting ready to leave. Thumper is resting at my feet, no idea what he’s in the middle of.

“We can’t drop it, Ryan,” I say. “I’m not going to drop it. We’ve been ‘dropping it’ for months now.”

That’s what’s really concerning about all of this. We aren’t fighting about the hot water or the Dodger Stadium parking lot. We aren’t fighting about money or jealousy or communication skills. We are fighting because we don’t know how to be happy. We are fighting because we are not happy. We are fighting because we no longer make each other happy. And I think, at least if I’m speaking for myself, I’m pretty pissed off about that.

“We have to deal with this, Ryan. It’s been three straight weeks of bitching at each other. Out of the past month, I think we have spent maybe one evening in a good mood. The rest of it has been like this.”

“You think I don’t know that?” Ryan says, his hand gesticulating wildly. When he gets angry, his normally confident and controlled demeanor becomes unrestrained and forceful. “You think I don’t know how miserable I am?”

“Miserable?” I say. “Miserable?” I can’t argue with what he is saying. It’s really about how he says it. He says it as if I’m the one making him miserable. As if I’m the one who’s causing all of this.

“I’m not saying anything you didn’t just say yourself. Please calm down.”

“Calm down?”

“Stop repeating everything I say as a question.”

“Then try being a bit more clear.”

Ryan sighs, moving his hand to his forehead, covering it with his thumb and fingers as if they were the brim of a baseball cap. He’s rubbing his temples. I don’t know when he became so dramatic. Somewhere along the way, he went from being this super calm, collected person to being this guy, this guy who sighs loudly and rubs his temples as if he’s Jesus on the cross. It’s as if the world is happening to him. I can tell he wants to say something, but he doesn’t. He starts to, and he stops himself.

I’m not sure what it is about me that insists that he say every little thing in his head. But when we fight like this, I can’t stand to see him hold back. You know why? I know why. It’s because if you’re really holding back, you don’t even start to say it. But that’s not what he does. He does this little song and dance where he pretends he’s not going to say something, but it’s clear that eventually, he’s going to say something.

“Just say it,” I say.

“No,” he says. “It’s not worth it.”

“Well, clearly, it is. Because you can barely stop yourself. So get on with it. I don’t have all f**king night.”

“Why don’t you take it down a notch, OK?”

I shake my head at him. “You are such a dick sometimes.”

“Yeah, well, you’re a bitch.”

“Excuse me?”

“Here we go. Her Royal Highness is offended.”

“It’s not hard to be offended by being called a bitch.”

“It’s no different from you just calling me a dick.”

“It is, actually. It’s much different.”

“Lauren, get over it. OK? I’m sorry I called you a bitch. Pretend I called you whatever you want to be called. The point is, I’m sick of this. I’m sick of every little thing being a disaster of epic proportions. I can’t even go to a goddamn Dodgers game without you moping through every inning.” Thumper moves from my feet and heads toward Ryan. I try not to worry that he’s choosing sides.

“If you don’t want me to be upset, then stop doing things to upset me.”

“This is exactly the problem! I’m not doing things to upset you.”

“Right. You just get tickets to the Dodgers game even when I tell you I don’t feel like going. That’s not to upset me, that’s because . . . why, exactly?” I move toward the dining-room table, getting a better angle at him, looking at him even more directly, but I’m not doing a great job of paying attention to the speed and force of my body. I hit the table so hard with my hip that I almost knock over the vase in the middle of the table. It wobbles, ever so slightly. I steady it.

“Because I want to see the Dodgers, and I really don’t f**king care if you’re there or not. I got the extra ticket to be nice, actually.”

I cross my arms. I can feel myself crossing them. I know it’s terrible body language. I know it makes things worse. And yet there is no other way for my arms to be. “To be nice? So you wanted to spend Friday night by yourself at the Dodgers? You didn’t even want me to go with you?”