Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Sex in the Suburbs

Some girls dream of love and marriage, house and babies; my dreams revolved around becoming a power single in Washington, D.C. A series of events derailed those dreams, first foregoing work on Capitol Hill and then meeting the love of my life at the ripe old age of 21. Shortly after meeting the future Mr. Blondebombchelle, HBO launched their groundbreaking series “Sex and the City.” With every episode I laughed, cried, and mourned the end of my swinging single self. As each season progressed so did my relationship with Mr. Right, from friendship to marriage, with all the ups and downs that any relationship experiences.

However, as much as I love Sex and the City, it was difficult to watch these smart, attractive, successful women focus so much on finding a relationship and not embrace the freedom and joy they possessed. Sex and the City is not the only show that portrays single women on the hunt for a husband. If anything, Samantha, the sex crazed, “act like a man” character on the show, was a breath of fresh air in the entertainment industry that fuels an invisible war between the married and the single. She did not see marriage as the road to happiness and instead found happiness in herself, her career, and her friends. Perhaps she knew something that only a failed marriage could teach Charlotte; a wedding isn’t the finish line to finding happiness. Carrie did pose the question; “Is there a secret cold war between marrieds and singles?” There probably is; the grass is always greener on the other side, but there is far more press devoted to the trials and tribulations of a single person than the struggles of coupledom. Relationships are not easy, even the best ones, but that reality is never portrayed or published in our “happily ever after” world. Even in friendships there is a somewhat unspoken code not to divulge the less than stellar points of being married to your single friends. Saying “I Do” doesn’t make the issues and questions that the ladies of Sex and the City, and other single woman across the globe, have go away. If anything, getting married amplifies some of the problems and struggles because you have to work through them rather then just break up and move on. After tying the knot I realized a dirty little secret that would knock Carrie and her friends out of their Manolos; marriage comes with many of the same issues faced by being single.

“How often is normal?” (Season 1): I remember reading about a couple who included frequency of sexual activity into their wedding vows; no less than 3 times a week and no more than 5, and thought to myself, “wonder how long they’ll keep that up?” Normal is a relative term influenced by personalities, life events, free time, present health, work stress, kids, dogs, etc.

“Are there still certain things in relationships one should never say?” (Season 2): For those who believe there are no secrets in marriage, try asking a friend about their mother-in-law in front of their spouse and see if you get a much different answer then what they say to you behind closed doors. Even after marriage there are some things never to say in the relationship, things that are just not important or worth the consequences. Topics to consider adding to the “never say it to your spouse” category include hair loss (or odd growth), bowel movements, the hot person at the office, and in-laws.

“Are all men freaks?” (Season 2): Yes.

''Is it better to 'fake it' than be alone?'' (Season 2): This was in reference to faking happiness and strength in a relationship rather then being single. Honestly, I can think of nothing more miserable then pretending to be happy with a person because of fear of being single. Single does not automatically mean lonely and couples settling down in bad relationships can feel more forlorn then any single. Eventually the reality of a poor relationship is realized. All faking it accomplishes is wasting time that could be spent finding happiness.

''Can you be friends with an ex?'' (Season 2): This is a dicey one that can only be answered on a case by case basis. All I can say is the question still comes up once you are married, especially in the day and age of the internet where long lost ex’s can pop up in an instant. Personally, after nearly 7 years of marriage, I don’t care who he’s friends with, heck I can barely remember my own details of my past relationships. When it comes down to ex’s who are still friends it is all about trust in your partner and confidence in yourself; married or not.

“What constitutes cheating?” (Season 2): Again, this is something best addressed on a relationship by relationship basis but the question still exists after vows are exchanged. Some married couples engage in extramarital activities considered adulterous in 49 states but are perfectly fine with the arrangement. On the extreme side other couples have a hissy fit if their spouse makes eye contact with another person. It is important to set the ground rules early to avoid any issues and misunderstandings.

“Can you change a man?” (Season 2): No.

“How do you know if you’re good in bed?” (Season 3) : Marriage doesn’t necessarily make performance insecurities go away, but it should provide a comfortable and safe environment to address those insecurities and improve.

“In Relationships, what are the deal breakers?” (Season 3): Over 50% of marriages end in divorce so there are deal breakers after the wedding. While there are some people who give up too quickly when the going gets tough, there are some very legitimate deal breakers like abuse, infidelity, addictions, discovering homosexuality, or becoming a Red Sox fan.

“Do we need drama to make a relationship work?” (Season 3): As an Italian (German-Swedish-English-Irish-Finnish-Czech)-American I know drama. I grew up surrounded by couples who created drama, a way to make their relationships more passionate. Perhaps they picked up too many relationship tips from Soap Operas, because good relationships don’t need to be dramatic to be good. Drama is exhausting.

“Can we have it all?” (Season 3): In the words of the great Rolling Stones: you can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes you just might find you get what you need.

“In a relationship, when does the art of compromise become compromising?” (Season 4): This is one of the most profound questions Carrie posed in all six seasons of Sex and the City. Relationships take plenty of compromise, and ideally it works out to be 50/50, but maintaining that 50/50 is a struggle. It is too easy for one person to take on more then their fair share, or give in to the other more often then not. I see other people compromise their opinions, values, time, and opinions to their spouses quite often and wonder myself when it is no longer compromising for the sake of a relationship and just being a doormat.

“As we speed along this endless road to the destination called who-we-hope-to-be, I can’t help but whine, “are we there yet?” (Season 4): One of the biggest misconceptions people have about getting married. The wedding is not a destination; it is just the addition of another person along for the ride.

Marriage is no walk in Central Park and comes along with a whole host of challenges that people associate with being single and the dating scene. Marriage is hard work, but is worth all the sacrifice and struggle when you meet the right person? In the words of Mr. Big, “Absofuckinglutely.”


Nursedude said...

I guess in the end, there is a difference between being alone and being lonely. As somebody who has seen his parents married multiple times(3 for mom, 4 for dad, but there should be an asterix on his, because he still would be married to his bitchy second wife had she not died of COPD complications), but has been happily married for most of 24 years, I think that a happy marriage is a certain level of skill in picking the right woman, a certain level of luck-but also learning from yours(and your parents) prior mistakes and learning from them. I must confess that the idea of ever finding myself single again, scares the crap out of me.

LucyinStLou said...

I also ended up falling in love and getting married really young. It was a surprise. I was always independent and never really thought I'd necessarily get married. It's been a trip with more fun times than bad times. I do completely agree that marriage cannot be an end in itself. Of all the couple I knew who married thinking that would be the case, none are still married.

Steve and Stepher said...

This post makes me giddy!

I believe you've nailed SO MANY of the key components to any serious longterm relationship. Seriously. Trust, loyalty, willing to battle through the tough times, and under what circumstances to call it quits.

This blog reminds me of the differences between CF woman and those w/children. We all know that many women with children withhold the REAL truth about having kids to their no-childed friends. Of course there are a variety of reasons WHY they don't share everything, but it's there nonetheless.

I married at 32 and I'm glad that I waited for Steve. I dated my share of LOSERS and Steve's first marriage didn't end well. Thankfully, she's on another continent - or so last I heard.

Making intimate relationships work (and last) takes a commitment from everyone involved. There's no easy way out of that...

Excellent topic!!!

James said...

wow, stumbled on this blog by accident but really refreshing to read :)
certainly openedn my eyes in a few areas
Jamsocial supremacy

Stacy said...

I loved this blog. You really hit the nail on the head. Good job!!

I also wanted to point out that Steve and Stepher's comment about women with children witholding information to childless females is probably correct. However, I am the exception to the rule. I tell all people who want to have or are currently in the process of having children the truth. I wish someone would have done that for me so I wouldn't have been so delusional. I would love to be a guest blogger on that topic.

Claire said...

YAY! Great post!

I'm Doug's 3rd wife, he married the other 2 when he was very young. We were married when we were 31 & I don't regret waiting a single day. I dated a ton of idiots but somehow, I managed to straighten up enough to snag a good one.

Funny story....the boyfriend I had at age 16 started talking about us getting married (ack!), & I told him "What are you talking about? You're a learning experience..."

That didn't go over well, but it was true!

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Claire- I absolutely love your comment about your ex "being a learning experience;" such wise words for a 16 year old. It's much easier to look upon a string of connection in hindsight and realize the lessons learned through each relationship.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Stacy & Stepher- It is a shame that many hide the realities of marriage and children. There are probably a number of reasons behind hiding the truth. Admitting marriage is hard is an open invitation for people judging the strength of your marriage, as if marrying the right person means there are never any issues to contend with. Admitting parenting is hard is tantamount to being a horrible, abusive parent. Imagine how much more help and advice we could receive if we were more open on the struggles inherent in these roles of spouse and parent.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

James- Thanks for your comment. I look forward to reading your blog.

NeeNee said...

I love the post. I hate when people say relationships do not take work "you just love eachother"

Mine takes a bit of compromise, communication, and cuddling. My 3 C's. I dated him for 6 years before we got married and I hate when people say, "you waited so long".

I love him and needed to make sure there is a bond before I marry him. Marriage is suppose to be for life. Unfortunately in our world, it's not.

When we do make the venture for children (soon Bombchelle can be an Aunt) I hope and pray he still commnicates the way he does now.

Sex and the City was fun but cannot control how we go through life. I mean Carrie's outfits were pretty obnoxious. I would tell a friend to meet a man if she would change her damn dress.

Explosive Bombchelle said...

Lucy in St. Lou- The happiest marriages I know are couples who never thought they would get married, never had it on a to do list, and simply had love surprise them. Perhaps it is because we never expected marriage to define us or complete us, we just enjoy the relationship we were fortunate enough to find.