Everyone knows them - the flawless relationship people. They walk through life publicly declaring their love and happiness, as if shouting it out will make it true every day. He's so great! We're best friends! Love of my life, every minute of every day! I believe he is great and that you love your life. But I don't think you're riding the bliss train 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
So I call bullshit. There's no relationship that's aces 100% of the time. And here's a secret: there's no need for you to pretend yours is. Your relationship is probably everything you want, need, and could dream of 90 percent of the time. The other 10 percent can be ugly, but you're not alone and you don't have to hide it. You're not perfect, and neither is your partner. Sometimes you do things to hurt each other. That's certainly nothing to be proud of, but it's not a shameful secret either: we all screw up.
I'm not encouraging people to air their dirty laundry for all the world to see, and for crap's sake, keep it off social media. I'm saying it's okay to go a day without declaring you're the happiest in all the land. I'm saying it's okay to acknowledge that you're pissed off at your partner, or that you're disappointed. It's okay to be real about the reality of relationships. When we stop pretending things are great all the time, we become more approachable. We understand each other better. We're able to help each other more. We're less inclined to judge others while trying to sweep our own pile of crap under the rug.
It's mostly women out there fronting for the benefit of other women. I think a lot of people are afraid to be real even with their friends because while they crave validation, they also cringe thinking of hearing how horrible whatever their partner did is, how their friend wouldn't put up with that, etc. They don't want their friends disliking their spouse over something they themselves are going to move on from pretty quickly.
The truth is that while we're comfortable spouting off about how we wouldn't put up with what our friend is dealing with, we do put up with other things that our friends wouldn't. While we all love to tell our friends what we would and wouldn't take, please proceed with caution. What your best friend and her husband fight about might be different than what you and your husband fight about, but the fact is this - everyone fights over something. Just make sure you fight clean and you'll get through it.We all eat a little shit. And we should remember that when we're being there for our friends. We're sometimes too earnest in rallying around a wounded bird. We cross the line and morph from a supportive sounding board to a harsh and unyielding judge.
I really try not to do that, but it is a fine line. I'm the friend people talk to when they want honesty. I'm the friend who will tell you that yes, your spouse screwed up, but we all screw up. I'm not going to hate on your spouse later for a mistake, because it's not my marriage, and because you don't want me to. Unless you get the big D, then I will hate all you want. And I am so so glad I have a few friends like that around me. If you don't have one, find one. Everyone needs one.
Because amid the fluffy clouds and happy butterflies that dot the landscape of our long-term relationships, there are bumps in the road. There are times you're not on the same page. When you're in it for the long haul, these things are not the end of the world. The every day bullshit you have to learn to navigate together can cause friction: housework, bills, who does what when, staying in versus going out, where you'll spend the holidays, if you'll have kids, how you'll raise your kids, and a million other things. Communicate, always, and you'll get by all of it.
Don't compare. Who cares what someone else has? Concentrate on what you have. Be cognizant of what powers your love machine and what you need to bring to the table to make it work. Because it is work, and it takes work to maintain a good relationship. If you've truly given it your all and it's not working, walk away. Everyone deserves happiness. But make sure you really have given it your all and you're not just being lazy about putting in the effort.
Since Dear Abby is dead, I thought I'd step in and give you all an unsolicited pep talk on relationships, friendship, reality, and how the illusion of perfection goes over like a shit balloon. You're welcome.
Speaking of relationships, make sure to catch my interview with MFD, my other half, here on Tuesday. He's quite a card so I'm sure it will be a worthy read.