Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Everything is Fine

Have you ever noticed how much women dish on their boyfriends, but how little they talk about their marriages?  When your girl friend is dating someone, you hear about their fights, what she loves about him, what she hates about him, what her greatest fears about the relationship are, how good (or not good) he is in bed, etc. etc (men - do y'all do this too?).  But as soon as couples get married, they rarely talk about their relationships.  It's as if, miraculously, everything is always fine.  Why the veil of secrecy?  

When I got married, I felt an intense sense of peace and certainty.  It wasn't just a piece of paper to me.  It was finality.  Perhaps that's why couples don't talk about their marriage with others, what's the point?  Either you are happy and content, and discussing that seems irrelevant and braggy or if you are dealing with a problem, you tend to just find a way to work through it or chalk it up to regular relationship stuff.  This is a far different approach to when you're dating.  When you're dating, you overanalyze everything, if you get into a big fight you may question whether you should be in the relationship and when things are lovely you acknowledge how lovely you feel.  While it's a huge relief to leave the bipolar land of dating, maybe having an external outlet to check-in on your feelings regularly and having friends to talk through issues is something we shouldn't give up when we tie the knot.  Ideally you are able to do those things within your relationship, but you may need help every now and again. 

I mean sure, the my boyfriend-hates-when-I-talk-to-my-ex stuff is usually more interesting.  But consider the long-term implications if we talked more about all of the wonderful things and the challenges in our marriages with a few trusted people, as well.  Maybe we'd learn that others deal with similar issues.  Maybe we'd be reminded how strong our marriages really are.  Maybe we could borrow ideas from others on how to make our relationships even better.  The risk of sharing is that you'll feel insecure about your issues, of course, but my guess is everyone navigating a long-term relationship goes through some variation of the same things.  Don't judge your friend's stuff and they won't judge yours.  And know what to keep sacred.  The reward within our relationships could be great. 

One thing I read somewhere that's totally true, though - if you have no one else, bitch to your spouse's mother, not your own.  Their mother will forgive them.  Yours never will.  :)


  1. I've only recently learned the value of discussing my marriage with fellow married or formerly married ladies and, yeah, it's amazing what an awesome experience that can be.

    I think there's that constant fear of being judged, of being told, "You're not fucking up your *marriage*, are you?" For some people, it makes it harder to want to talk about what's going on.

    Also, with marriage, it's as if you're done with the fun part - now it's nagging him about the gutters and taking out the trash, amirite? Far less interesting than analyzing the last 5 text messages he sent.

    Don't know how this applies to couples in LTRs who are living together but haven't tied the knot.

    1. Yea, I think there is a fear that your relationship will be judged by others and a fear that something you're experiencing is unique or means something bad for the long-term success of your relationship. I was also raised to think that family stuff should be kept totally private. I think it's probably the same for couples in LTRs once they share a life together, etc. I don't think I really noticed it until I joined the married-world, though.

      Nagging about taking the trash may not be interesting, but it is completely valid! :)

    2. Mimi and Jasleen- Agree on all fronts. I would also add in that dual-cultural upbringing we three had. We are the children of Desi immigrants so that adds in a whole heap of rules on how to "save face" and manage your public image/reputation. I think this heavily influences the situations we are in and how much we reveal to others. It would also be interesting to reflect on which others we do talk to. Are we more comfortable talking to other Desi people about our lives authentically? Or with people belonging to other ethic groups? The fear of being judged runs deep...


      I would second that question Jasleen posed at the end of her post about people in LTRS (which would include LGBTQ peeps since we are, for the most part, not allowed to get married).


    3. My gay friends have always been extremely forthcoming about their relationships, and I in return have been as well with them. They just seem more open about the ebbs/flows. Maybe, because they aren't always able to get married (arg), there isn't a "societal norm" of marriage they are trying to fit into. Not sure if it's the same for lesbians, as my closer gay friends are all guys.

    4. Yes, no script to follow. At times, this is liberating and other times, extremely frustrating. For me, I am surprisingly traditionally-minded. I want a Hindu wedding. I want the long haul. Not saying I am conservative about dating, sex, or the ideas of roles for people depending on gender, but I frequently find myself wanting a Desi woman by my side and going to temple or raising a kid who wins all the spelling bees. Haha! Okay, it isn't *that* bad but sometimes my thoughts surprise me.


  2. I’ve been thinking about your post a lot the last couple of days. I love the idea of engaging friends, and deepening relationships by sharing vulnerabilities. However, what would I share in this context? What is worth having a conversation about? My husband doesn’t unload the dish washer on Sunday night, like I asked him to, but he always cleans the entire kitchen on Friday and Saturday without any prompting? My husband didn’t call me back at the specified time, but he did the other 101 times? When a relationship is new there isn’t a history to compare current actions to, so you are left wondering if the unreturned call is a character defect, or an honest, trivial mistake. These are difficult things to figure out when you’ve only known someone a few months, and feel pressured to find the right one, right now.

    I’ve been with my husband 13 years. Our history is long, and it allows me to feel confident in who he is, and how we work together. Because of that, I don’t have much to discuss in the relationship area. However, being a working mom is all new to me. I want/need to talk about how to balance work and baby, how to deal with tantrums, how to meaningfully engage my extended family, do I really need to put my kid in a Spanish immersion daycare if it means adding 45 min of drive time to my day, what is the best vacation with a toddler, etc.

    I am interested finding ways to enhance my marital relationship post-kids, but dealing with that stuff seems less challenging / unclear than the other stuff.
    Also, for me, having a kid means I see less of my friends. When I do see them with baby in tow, conversations are constantly being interrupted by baby disputes, eating “treasure” found in a corner, or trying to engage them in whatever. It is hard to open up about emotionally charged issues in 5 min increments. I also don’t want to waste limited time griping about little things that aren’t really that important to me. But, I realize it is important to try to share vulnerabilities, particularly those dealing with my relationship. I’ve found that the most I can do is try to be honest about what I’m up to, and dealing with, even if it is just in passing. I hope that it opens the door should my friends have anything more serious to talk about.

    My struggle is finding a way to facilitate conversations that allow me to the opportunity to open up, when needed. Since my need to vent about my relationship is infrequent, it seems to make things a little harder. My friends aren’t expecting it, and don’t know what to ask about. With a new relationship, it is natural to ask how things are going, how your last date went, etc. It would be weird to ask a married person, “how are you feeling about your husband not putting his laundry away this week?” As my son gets older, I’ve found some success in having home dinner dates with friends with similarly aged kids. The kids entertain each other pretty well, and I’m not distracted by worries about breaking stuff or misbehaving. For me, it seems to create more opportunities for meaningful conversation.


    1. Thank you for such a thoughtful comment! I think I just realized how little I know about my friends' marriages, as compared to how much I know about my other friends' dating relationships. And even though in a lot of ways that makes complete sense for the reasons you mentioned, I just wonder if we could benefit from sharing more. Not necessarily about the trivial day-to-day stuff (though I do think the "division of responsibilities" stuff can lead to non-trivial resentment!), but about how you're doing, how you're handling a time of transition together (such as a baby, new jobs, moving), how/if you're staying connected, how the relationship is changing, etc.

      Adam and I have been together 12 years, so like you guys we definitely have a strong sense of who we are as a couple. But I've also realized since having Noah how much you continue to evolve together. We were so set in our ways as a couple that adding a new person to the mix was an unexpected shake-up for us. Because of our long history, we have the tools to handle it, but I think talking through it with friends going through the same stuff would be helpful.

      I totally agree that our kids' issues take center stage because it is all still new to us. But I guess I'm realizing that their issues, at every age and stage, will always be new and at the forefront in our minds and I want to make sure I'm still nurturing, thinking about and developing my marriage alongside. I want to start "checking in" more on that, whether it's on my own, with my husband or with my friends.

      Finding actual opportunity to talk is a whole different issue! I do a regular girls' dinner/brunch with a few non-married friends and we spend the majority of the time talking about their search for love, and then when I hang out with my married friends, we spend the majority of the time talking about our kids. I think even what you mentioned - just talking about whatever is going on in passing - is great. You've always been very open and - whether you realize it or not - you invite conversations about this stuff that I find really helpful. So...keep doing what you're doing, and maybe we need to "schedule" a monthly phone chat or something! :)