Sick of picking up your husband's socks or bickering over the washing up? Gabrielle and Jan Henning may well have hit upon the perfect solution for battling spouses - living next door to each other. Here, the pair, who are both 57 and have been married for 36 years, explain their unusual set-up to ANGELA CARLESS,
THE WIFE SAYS,
Every morning, my husband Jan brings me tea and toast in bed. We chat about the day ahead before I give him a lift to the school where he works, en route to the college where I teach art.
At the end of the working day, we'll often go shopping together and on Saturdays we make a habit of going for lunch.
I'm sure many married couples follow a similar domestic routine - but I'm certain our living arrangements differ hugely. For Jan and I don't share the same bed, or even the same house - he lives in a separate house next door. We have lived in mirror-image adjoining houses for the past ten years.
jan gabrielle hennig
Solution: Jan and Gabrielle Henning have the perfect life together, living apart next door to each other
We have our own bedrooms, our own bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms behind our own front doors. We also have our own gardens separated by a fence, over which we chat. To my mind, we have the best of both worlds: separate lives and yet the trust and companionship of marriage.
To be honest, I think we've hit on an arrangement that most women secretly wish for, sick of the squabbling over the washing-up or their husband's shavings in the sink. Having separate houses puts paid to all that, but it also means that when we're together it's because we like each other's company, not out of habit or because we're forced to exist under the same roof. We appreciate and respect each other a lot more.
Our once-traditional marriage has evolved into a very modern relationship where we are effectively married singletons, but remain wholly committed to each other. Although I love my husband and he makes a great next-door neighbour, there's no way I want to live with him.