Relationships can often be painful, draining, and uncomfortable — even though we may cherish them greatly.
This is because relationships require us to crack open our most vulnerable selves — to unveil the parts of us we may not like or the parts we rush to hide.
Relationships require far more than fanciful dreams and giddy lust. A real-world partnership and/or marriage with another human being takes guts — cold, hard, gritty guts.
It’s not for everyone.
Though we may see couples out and about holding hands, touching one another tenderly, or looking lovingly into each other’s eyes, there’s always that curiosity as to what that couple may truly be like behind those proverbial closed doors — well at least that curiosity is there for me.
As a person who is in a long-term relationship myself, I often wonder how other couples operate privately because I know that my partner and I act differently when we’re alone as opposed to how we act out in public.
I find myself pondering if other couples I see out in the world are anything like my partner and I are when we are alone together.
What kind of struggles do they have?
Are they raising kids together?
Do they fight?
Do they fight a lot?
What do they fight about?
Do they have an active sex life?
Is one of them cheating on the other?
These are questions I often have and I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who’s curious about these things.
My partner and I don’t fight in public. We are usually able to restrain our arguments until we’re alone. We don’t generally argue in front of the kids either. We make a concerted effort not to. But behind closed doors — it’s a different scene.
Are we a completely different couple when we’re alone? No, but we're not angels. We’re not all lovey-dovey with one another at every moment. We talk freely — I list off complaints about my day — usually regarding the kids. My partner lets loose about his own issues. Sometimes we disagree and sometimes we get into a fight.
Sometimes the fights are so bad that my partner sleeps on the couch downstairs. Sometimes I do. It’s rare but it definitely happens. Sometimes we don’t talk for days. Sometimes I feel like giving up, breaking up, and throwing it all away.
But I don’t.
This is because I know better.
I know that disagreements don’t end a marriage. I know that a rough day doesn’t mean it’s over. I know that this relationship has way more pros than it does cons. It’s not abusive. It’s not toxic. It’s healthy, it’s respectful, and it bears the fruit of our combined efforts.
The way a relationship and/or marriage displays on the outside doesn’t necessarily give up the intricacies of what’s inside. Inside is where all the gooey good stuff happens. The often yucky, melty, strange bits which make up any long-term relationship.
Sometimes relationships are unpleasant and you don’t want to deal with them. And sometimes they are so deliciously satisfying that you never want them to end.
My partner and I have a pretty good sex life but sometimes we don’t have sex for a week or more. For us — that’s a decent dry spell that breeds major frustration. Our sex life could probably be better — but at least we have one. Does it need work? Sure, almost all things can be improved somehow. However, I’m grateful for the sexual connection we do have after all these years.
Have I cheated on my partner? Nope. Has he cheated on me? I’m fairly confident it’s a NO, although I can never truly be sure. That’s where trust enters the stage. You’ve got to have it. If trust leaves the scene, the whole show fizzles out.
Do I find other people attractive and wonder what it would be like to have sex with them? Occasionally. Do I get jealous over my partner? Yes, sometimes I do. Do I let these things infiltrate my partnership? I try my absolute best not to.
I know that partnerships don’t reach perfection. I don’t strive for perfection. I strive for mutual respect. I strive for plenty of listening. I strive for compassion.
Behind my closed doors, we struggle. We get heated. We make mistakes. Behind my closed doors, we are desperately trying. We are present. And we forgive.