John Fuller: It’s the day after Christmas and we’ve got a gift for you, one of our most popular programs of the year. We hope you’ll take some time to relax and enjoy some humorous insights about marriage from comedian John Branyan.
John Branyan: You know, you gotta have your driver’s license renewed every four years, but you don’t have to have your marriage license renewed ever. (Laughter)
End of Teaser
John F.: I had never thought of it that way, but that’s John Branyan. He’s on today’s “Focus on the Family” and your host is Focus president, Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.
Jim Daly: John, laughter is a great way for us to get over some of the discomforts of everyday life and our guest, John Branyan will help us laugh at our own marriages, as he opens up about his marriage. He has lots to share with us. He’s speaking from 30 years’ experience in his marriage with his wife, Lori, plus four children.
John F.: And the audio is from John’s DVD called Wedlocked and let me explain the visuals for you as you listen along. John is picturing himself at an office of the Department of Motor Vehicles and he’s sitting next to a rather quiet stranger, musing out loud about marriage and you’ll hear the other man respond a couple of times. Here’s John Branyan on “Focus on the Family.”
John Branyan: You know, I’ve been married for 21 years, same person. And I think the secret to a long-term relationship is flexibility, adaptation. You gotta pretty much bend with the wind or it’ll just knock you flat. (Laughter) Because it’s always in a state of flux. It’s always changing. I mean, after 21 years, she’s not the same girl that I married. The relationship is a lot more intense.
She asks me questions (Laughter), questions that I don’t know the answers to, ’cause they’re questions that no man has ever known the answers to (Laughter), deep, probing, impossible questions.
“What are you thinking?” (Laughter) “I’m a guy, I’m thinking nothing,” (Laughter), zero, zilch, zip, nada, nothing. She’s a girl. Girls cannot think nothing. That never happens. When her mind is blank, there’s still billions of calculations flying through it (Laughter), angles being considered, thoughts being process and organized, colors being coordinated. She’s like a four gigahertz, 256, terabyte, file-serving computer. I’m like that little solar calculator that comes free with cigarettes, (Laughter)
And I still spend time with other guys. You know, me and the guys go out. We talk. Never once have I ever said, “Hey, Al, what’ch you thinkin’?” (Laughter) Because I don’t care (Laughter). Plus he’s a guy; I know what he’s thinking—nothing. (Laughter)
Has this ever happened to you? Saturday morning, I’m minding my own business on my way out to mow the yard or something and she stops me. “Uh! Are you gonna wear that outside?” (Laughter) Yeah, I’m just gonna mow. What’s the big deal?” “Look at your shirt. Look at your pants. Look at those socks. I don’t want the neighbors to see you lookin’ like that.” (Laughter) Zing!
Sunday morning I come out the same door on the way to church. She stops me again for an appraisal of her outfit. “Okay, sweetheart, how do I look?” (Laughter) “Why are you asking me? I’m not qualified to dress myself.” (Laughter and Applause)
She wants to borrow stuff from me that I never have, like tissue and Kleenex. “Can I borrow a tissue? John, I need a tissue. Could I have a tissue, please, (Laughter) hm?” “No, men don’t carry Kleenex. To a guy ,carrying Kleenex and wearing long sleeves, is redundant. (Laughter and Applause) Let’s face if men carried Kleenex, this (Sound of Pfft) would never have been invented. (Laughter)
I’ve never been a “belonger.” In high school it was that way, growin’ up, all the way through high school. The car I drove in high school was a brown Chevy Vega. (Laughter), two doors and three speeds and that was a chick magnet. (Laughter) Poor man’s Pinto. (Laughter)
And girls would say things to me, you know, to try to make me feel better. You know how girls do. They’d say stuff to boost my spirits, tried to let me down easy, like a ton of bricks. “Oh, I care about you, John. I care about you. I think about you like a brother.” (Laughter) So I had no girlfriends in high school, but I had more sisters than the Catholic church. (Laughter and Applause)
And then a couple of years after graduation, this miracle, along came Lori. Along came this girl and she said, “I love you. I really love you.” (Laughter) I should’ve been suspicious right there. (Laughter) I should’ve known I was in over my head and we started planning the wedding, planning the wedding. We had to have a wedding rehearsal. That’s what she told me, “Gotta have a wedding rehearsal, John.” “Like, why, is it tricky?” She goes, “Yes, it’s tricky.” (Laughter)
Let me show you my part. We rehearsed this over and over again. Let me show you my part in the wedding. (Laughter) By the sixth time, I had it down. (Laughter)
I don’t mind; I don’t mind rehearsing. I just wish we would practice somethin’. There were so many things I needed practice on. There were so many things I didn’t know how to do, still don’t know how to do ’em. Consequently, 20 years later, I coulda used practice on a thousand things.
I could’ve used practice droppin’ off to sleep at night with a pair of sub-zero feet in my back. (Scream) (Laughter) “You have frostbitten my kidneys.” (Laughter) I could’ve used practice standing in the women’s clothing department in front of the dressing room door, holding her purse (Laughter), trying to hang on to a shred of masculine dignity. (Laughter)
And even getting used to each other, just occupying the same sleeping space at the same time, that’s what’s difficult, getting used to each other’s nuances. She’s a morning person, a morning person . (Laughter) The sun barely breaks over the horizon, she’s hovering over the bed, “Oh, look sleepyhead; the sun’s up.” (Laughter) “The sky is blue and the birds are singing. It’s gonna be a great day. It’s time to get up, up, up, up, up!” (Laughter) Grrr. You know what I would rather hear at 6 o’clock in the morning. (Clk, clk) “Everyone on the ground, this is a stick up!” (Laughter) ‘Cause at least the stick-up guys will let you lay down. (Laughter and Applause)
The birds, the birds are singing. That is the only sound that they know how to make. (Laughter) You know what I think. I think one bird gets up early and the noise outside the windows is all the other birds going, “Shut up!” (Laughter)And even climbing into bed together, occupying the same sleeping space. Now she’s my wife. I love her, but there are still times when I will climb into bed next to her. I pull her over close. I can smell her perfume, start to kiss the back of her neck, blow in her ear. She looks over at me and says, “What are you thinkin’?” (Laughter) “Gosh, I don’t know; what are you thinkin’?” (Laughter)
And she goes, “I was just thinking that if we fold the dish towels smaller (Laughter), they will fit more efficiently into the kitchen drawers. (Laughter) “That is exactly what I was thinking. (Laughter) Let’s go do it now.” (Laughter) Maybe while we’re up, I can spackle.” (Laughter)
And then into the relationship came the children. We had four babies somehow. (Laughter)
Man in License Bureau: Spackling accident. (Laughter and Applause)
And that changes everything. I learned so much. I learned that they separate pregnancy. I learned to separate pregnancy into three things called “trimesters.” And the reason they’re called “trimesters” is, because during that time the husband tries to “mester” up the strength (Laughter) to stay in the house with a pregnant woman. (Laughter)
And the first trimester, first trimester, two cells come together and form a tiny human being. The second trimester, that tiny human being begins to grow and then the third trimester, the pregnant woman changes from a human being (Laughter) into a Tasmanian Devil. (Laughter) And so, I come in the front door and she’s “Boom, baga … bag … boog … ga … wa … tall … goo … ga … gaz.” (Laughter) “Hey, where’s the cat?” (Sound of burp) (Laughter)
And it was at that moment in my life when I realized, this is not the same girl that I married. (Laughter) This is not the same species that I married. (Laughter) After just a couple of years of marriage, you start to see sides of each other that are kept hidden when you’re dating. When we dated, she never devoured small domesticated mammals. (Laughter) I would’ve remembered that. (Laughter)
At the same time, there [are] parts. There [are] parts of becoming a new father that aren’t completely terrifying, kinda heartwarming. Like when she was about six months along into the first pregnancy, she developed this intense desire to learn everything she could about becoming a mother—carrying children, raising children, ’cause it was our baby. It was my baby and she wanted to do it perfectly. “It’s your baby, John, living inside of me, suckin’ the life out of my organs like a parasite.” (Laughter) “Making me bloat like a fish on the beach (Laughter), doin’ backflips on my bladder all because of you, my love.” (Laughter)
So, she went to the library. She got books on the subject. She checked out videotapes. She subscribed to magazines and so, by the time the baby’s arrived, we were perfect parents. She, because of months of loving maternal research and me by (Sound of pfft) default. (Laughter) ‘Cause I had her to explain everything to me, all the stuff I had to know, like trading off feedings in the middle of the night, baby’d cry and she’d nudge me, “John, baby’s crying.” (Laughter) “Do you hear that cryin’ baby? That is your baby!” (Laughter) “The book says that daddy should take a turn feeding for bonding. So bond!” (Laughter) So, I would stumble down the hall into the kitchen, lookin’ for bottles and then it would occur to me, “Hey, we’re breastfeeding.” (Laughter) This is gonna hurt like a monkey. (Laughter)
John F.: What a great story and that’s John Branyan on today’s “Focus on the Family.” Get a free audio download of this program today at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio. Let’s go ahead and hear more from John Branyan on “Focus on the Family.”
End of Program Note
John B.: And in the midst of all of it, in the midst of unanswered questions and confusion of roles and kids flyin’ around the planet, in the middle of all the chaos, I’m still expected to be romantic.” (Laughter) I’m still expected to breathe new wind on the embers of romance. (Laughter) (Pfft) (Laughter)
She will appear from nowhere. “Take me someplace.” (Laughter) “Take me someplace nice. It’s because we never go anywhere, that’s why. We just stay home all the time and I don’t want to stay home all the time. I want to go someplace, just I want to go out somewhere with you, so take me someplace. Take me someplace nice.” (Laughter)
“All right, where do you want to go?” (Laughter) “I don’t want to tell you where to take me. (Laughter) That would ruin everything. You have to think of someplace to go.” So, I got tickets to the tractor pull (Laughter) and that was wrong.
We have so many friends whose cummerbunds matched the flowers, matched the dresses and they marched down the aisle. They took a vow, a vow until death do us part and then they parted (Laughter) and they weren’t dead. (Laughter) I think love takes longer than that. It takes a lifetime. It takes a whole lifetime just to learn what really annoys them and see if you can do it again and again and again. (Laughter)
You stick with it. Eventually you’ll zero in on the source of conflict. You’ll figure out what it is that causes the two of you to fight. Lori and I did. It’s me. (Laughter) I remember the first fight that I caused. It was right after we got married and I wanted to go out with the guys, you know, just me and the guys like we used to for old time’s sake. And she wanted me to stay there with her and cut the cake and throw the bouquet. (Laughter)
And even now sometimes she’ll get me backed into a corner, maneuvered so I can’t escape and she’ll say, “John, listen, Sweetie, I was just reading in Cosmo.” (Laughter) ” Cosmo, great.” (Pffm) (Laughter) “Bring it on.” “If you could start all over again, if you could wipe the slate clean, hey look at me; this is important. (Laughter) If you could start all over again and wipe the slate clean, start afresh, would you get married again?” (Laughter)
The speed with which you answer that question is as important as the answer itself. (Laughter) And the truth is, after 21 years, the answer to that question is yes, I would marry the exact same girl again, because what I’ve learned over these years is, that the two of us together are somehow better than the sum of the individual parts. And she is so many things I could never be and I’m so many things that she doesn’t want to be. (Laughter)
It’s complementary. We haven’t mastered it. We’re still learning both of us. I’m learning that she’s like a flower, a flower with infinite petals and each petal is a little more complex and a little more lovely than the petal that preceded it. And it’s gonna take a lifetime to examine every subtle nuance, every tiny little facet of her personality that makes her unique and special—different from all the rest and beautiful.
I know her favorite color. I know how she looks in the morning. I know her shoe size. I know how she cooks. Beep, beep, beep. (Laughter) “It’s an ancient family recipe.” For microwave popcorn?” (Laughter) The family recipe is “This side up.” (Laughter)
I know how she drives, wow! (Laughter) She’s got this motto. “Well, we paid for insurance; we might as well use it.” (Laughter and Applause) She does stuff with insurance I could never do. She hit a deer. She once hit a deer that was already dead in the middle of the (Laughter) [road]. [She] tore a running board off the car, knocked the wheels all out of alignment. She was so upset. “I’m sorry, John. I didn’t hit him on purpose.” I didn’t get mad. I couldn’t get mad, ’cause you know, those deer crossing signs by the road. They always show the deer like this. (Laughter) [It] never shows it like this, (Sound of Poom). (Laughter)
And late at night on long trips when I’m driving, she’ll sit up front with me and she’ll go, “Well, it’s late at night on a long trip. You’re probably pretty tired aren’t you, ’cause it’s late at night on a long trip.” (Laughter) “So, I’ll just sit up here with you and keep you company, help you stay awake.” (Laughter) Five miles down the road, pfft, she’s sound asleep, man. (Laughter) So, this is what I do. Pull into the first rest park that I come to where the semi’s are idling with their lights on, pull nose to nose with a semi, throw the car in neutral, hit the gas and go, “Aah!” (Laughter and Applause)
But you know what happened after the wedding cake was eaten and the flowers wilted and all the thank-you’s have been sent out? After that, after the wedding, then real life settled in and real life, I mean, day to day life is hard and it’s mundane and it doesn’t feel the way it feels when you’re plannin’ a big wedding. It doesn’t feel the way it feelswhen you’re dating. Some days it doesn’t feel like it’s worth it.
And every time those feelings come over me, I have these memories of my great grandparents—Great Grandpa Frank, Mamie. When we were little, we’d go over to their house, my brother and I and Great Grandpa Frank would sit in a big overstuffed chair by the window and we’d stand right in front of him. And he’d lean forward in that chair and talk with his hands and tell us all the stuff that little boys are supposed to know.
You know, he taught us how to bait a hook and cast a line so the big fish’d hit. Taught us how to build a tree house up in the branches, so the floor wouldn’t sage, the roof wouldn’t leak. Taught us how to sit on the handlebars of our bikes and ride them backwards downhill (Laughter) with groceries.
And all afternoon in the rocking chair right next to him was my grand grandmother, Mamie. She’d have her hands in her lap and she’d rock back and forth and look over at him while he talked and she’d shake her head and roll her eyes.And she would laugh at the same joke that she heard him tell a billion times before. In the middle of the story, he’d look over, pat her on the knee, wink at her, jump right back in and never miss a beat.
And as years went by, we started to notice that Mamie was having trouble remembering things like recipes that used to come from her heart,the names of the neighbors that lived right next door. So, my great grand grandfather’s job became to just be with Mamie constantly, make sure she didn’t forget somethin’ important, like unpluggin’ an iron or shuttin’ off the stove, but she got worse.
And pretty soon she was more than he could handle all by himself. He was too old, so they had to move out of their house and into a nursing home. And I remember the time that we went to visit the nursing home, dinner time. Great Grandpa Frank sat across the table from Mamie. His plate sat over to the side, got cold, while he took one spoonful at a time from her plate, fed it to her and he’d smile at her. He’d wink, take a napkin, wipe her chin.
Mamie couldn’t use a toilet by herself, so every time she had to go, he’d take her in and help with all of those responsibilities, every single time. And during all of those years when he was doin’ that, we never heard him complain. He never once snapped and said, “You know what? I’m an old man and I’ve had a long tough life, too and now I can’t even blink with Mamie around, because if I do, she may wander off or she’ll fall and hurt herself. And I have to feed her. I have to bathe her. I have to take her to the toilet.” He never complained.
Then there was the day that my brother and I went to visit the nursing home. Great Grandpa Frank sat in his big overstuffed chair. He looked up at the two of us and said, “You know, boys.” And there was a tear right here. He said, “Mamie, Mamie doesn’t know who I am anymore.” And that was the first complaint that I ever heard him speak about his little bride.
It didn’t seem to bother him to be with her constantly. It didn’tbother him to have to feed her and bathe her and take her to the restroom. What broke his heart was when all of those times, whoa! The two of them were married for 70 years, 70 anniversaries with the same person and I am positive that after all of those decades, she was not the same girl that he married. She didn’t look the same. They didn’t do the things they used to do when they were young and strong. She couldn’t even remember who he was. But there’s no doubt that my grandfather was still crazy in love with her, ’cause love is not what you feel. Love is what you do.
John F.: What a touching way to end this “Focus on the Family,” featuring John Branyan.
Jim: Well, that last line is worth repeating, John. Love is not what you feel; love is what you do and that is so biblical. In fact, the Scripture says, “Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. That’s 1 Corinthians 13:7 and 8 and what a wonderful example Great Grandpa Frank is to not just his family, but now to all of us. The love he had for his wife, to care for her, even when she couldn’t recognize his face anymore. That’s true love.
And I want to thank John Branyan for sharing his family stories with us and I’m sure many of you have a friend or family member who could use a dose of encouragement for their marriage and for their family. So, as our post-Christmas gift to you, we’re offering a free audio download of today’s program so that you can listen again and share it with a family member or a friend.
And I am hopeful [that] Focus has made a positive impact in your family. And if that’s the case, can I ask you to make a donation as we close out the year. It is so important to hear from you right now. Friends like you are the ones who fuel this ministry and make an impact on others. We need your partnership. In fact, we have some generous friends who have offered to double your gift dollar for dollar so that your donation will have twice the impact. So, please give today. Fifty dollars becomes $100 because of your partnership.
John F.: Donate today and get the free audio download of this great program by John Branyan at www.focusonthefamily.com/radio or call tomorrow. Our number is 800-A-FAMILY; 800-232-6459.
Now tomorrow, we’ll hear an amazing story from a woman who says that she was a God-hating feminist until her life changed dramatically.
Dr. Rosaria Champagne Butterfield: But one Sunday morning I woke up in the bed that I shared with my lesbian lover and an hour later I was sitting in a pew at the Syracuse Reformed Presbyterian Church.
End of Excerpt
John F.: Dr. Rosaria Butterfield joins us on the next “Focus on the Family.” I hope you’ll do the same.