In a Marriage

This story has a lot of people talking in my city.

The basics are this: Last fall, a man strangled his wife. He is a highly educated, successful academic from one of the largest colleges in the area. She was equally successful, equally well-educated, and a talented artist and environmental activist. They were a liberal, upper-class, socially aware couple. And according to myriad accounts of all who knew them, a couple very much in love, very much inseparable, and very happily married.

Everyone thought they had the perfect marriage. The murder stunned their circle of friends.

And it has me thinking about marriage and about how the public face of a couple's relationship can be so radically different from what goes on behind closed doors.

I have known several couples within my own family and among my friends whose failed marriages have stunned me. For reasons only they will ever know, they chose to present images of their relationships that would lead all who knew them to suspect nothing was wrong until one day, the marriages just ended. Of course, I am not privy to the intimate details of each and every one of my friends' and family members' relationships, nor would I want to be. But when these relationships ended, everyone who knew them (from mothers to brothers and sisters, to best friends to best men) were in shock. How could there have been no warning signs, no public disagreements, no late-night phone calls to friends or sisters or brothers to discuss a fight had, a feeling lost, a suspicion confirmed?

And then I think of my own marriage and what my family and friends would say about it. I've read that the divorce rate for parents of multiples is much higher than it is for the rest of the population. This fact surprises me not in the slightest. Our life is much more stressful, crazed, and chaotic than it was both before becoming parents and when we had only Isabella. The work is never-ending. The responsibility is soul-crushing at times, and with our work schedules (the hubs works all day, and I work on my freelance projects most of the night), we have very little time to spend together. Truth be told, we have fought more since the twins were born. A lot more.

But, I don't hide this fact from the world. Do I tell each friend I have about every fight we have? No. But do I share with my sister or my close friends that yeah, my life sucks sometimes and sometimes, the hubs and I are barely communicating because we're both either too exhausted or too stubborn or both? Yes. I have to. I'm Italian and Irish. We don't do "bottled up emotions."

So in this sense, while my inner circle is certainly not a third-party inside my marriage, the public face of our relationship is not that far off from reality.

I am curious. What would your circle of friends and family say about your marriage or long-term relationship? Would they think it rock-solid? Is the public face of your relationship accurate? Feel free to comment anonymously (even if you don't normally).

9 Responses to “In a Marriage”

  1. # Blogger Jesser

    I think we're pretty honest. I'm not sure this was the case in the beginning, but hell, we've been married almost 8 yrs and he irritates the hell out of me at times and I don't bother hiding it. I just don't want to become Kate Gosselin (publicly or privately) giving him crap all the time. Some of my irritation is about ME not him. Does that make sense? I hold back, but it's to keep peace, not keep face.  

  2. # Blogger Mom24

    I've told you before, the hardest thing on our marriage was having J&J so close together. Prior to that? We truly had as close to a perfect marriage as you can get. After? There have been so many times I've seriously questioned what we're doing together. For some people, it would be a breeze to have their third and fourth this close, for us, after what we were used to, it is not. I can only imagine how multiples would be.

    What would others think? Casual acquaintances probably see us as pretty solid. My mother would see us as a perfect couple because she refuses to acknowledge the cracks. My blog friends know it's very hard sometimes, I'm not sure what IRL friends would think, probably that our marriage is pretty much like anyone elses.

    While that's probably true, and fine in it's own way, after having had so much more, it feels like so much less to me.  

  3. # Blogger Sasha

    I think most people on the outside might say Rob and I were nuts. We FIGHT. I mean FIGHT--knock down, drag out, mean words. But we are both really passionate people and for us? Well, it's almost foreplay. Although I would say that a majority of our close friends never understood why we even married (because we did it back then, too), we have always been ridiculously honest with one another, which makes our marriage possibly one of the happiest I know. I say that in spite of intense fights, in spite of sometimes wanting to hit him (and probably he me). I wear it all on the surface. I agree with you re: the marriages that break up. They are always the perfect ones with no cracks in the veneer. Ba sign, I'd say.  

  4. # Blogger Cape Cod Kitty

    This is all too common. Very sad. From 1999-2004, I was in a serious relationship with a man who was a cunning, narcissistic manipulator. I became the classic abused woman - terrified to ever let anyone know what was happening behind closed doors. He was a very high profile member of our community which heightened the need to put forth the "perfect couple" facade at all times. He could be so charming. There was a lot of emotional and physical abuse. It took incredible strength to maintain appearances. In one final act which left me close to death, I escaped, he was arrested, and I saved my life with a restraining order. When the dust began to settle, and I sought help at a shelter for abused women, I was incredulous that this could happen to a 60 year old woman! I learned just how very common it is. People were just so shocked by what came out about the relationship. I found out after the fact that I was the third victim! Not even his family mentioned a word about his past behavior.
    Today, I am in a wonderful loving, open and honest relationship. We can argue/discuss with no fear of repercussions, and I think it is fairly normal. I never feel worried about sharing details with friends, etc. I think it is very normal for you and your husband to be "fighting" at this time. It is certainly a way to let off the steam and handle the frustration of all you have on your plates. It builds character and strength, as long as fighting does not become an attack on the others being, but focuses more on the issues at hand.

  5. # Blogger Sunny

    This discussion reminds me of a coworker/friend of my husband's back in St. Louis. We just heard that he and his wife are divorcing. I am FLOORED. They really did seem the perfect couple... just quietly happy, sharing interests and activities. They endured cancer together year ago. You never do know.

    I really don't know how accurate the public face of my marriage is. The bedrest and twins on the way has been stressful, but we are doing fine. It was tough on our relationship when Bean was born, and I imagine it will be even more difficult when the twins come. I'm sure I will complain a tiny bit to my friends when I get annoyed at DH, but I generally don't do a lot of that. (Not that I would fake it and talk about how WOOONDERFUL we are doing with two infants at home, however.)

    It is sad but sometimes interesting to see which couples weather the storm and which ones call it quits. Without really seeing into their private life, you can't often predict.  

  6. # Blogger Veronica

    I think a lot of people put up the fa├žade because they don't know how to handle the issues in the marriage. It's better to sweep it under the rug until the day comes when divorce is the only option.

    People still care very much about others think, imo, and will hold their marriages up as "perfect" in order to meet that expectation.

    In my own relationships, I tell people what's going on and what are the stressors. My friends, for the most part, know what's going on and how it can or does affect me.

    But I tend to be a pretty low-key person anyway -- very few things upset me and we don't fight about very much (we're usually in agreement about the big things).  

  7. # Blogger Nonnie

    I think the relationship our friends and family see is pretty much what our relationship is. We get along pretty well most of the time. We don't have major arguments very often. He gets on my nerves sometimes; I get on his. Our relationship really doesn't seem to have changed much at all over the years. I think I like him more now than I ever have. So, I think our friends and family would probably say our relationship is rock solid, and I think that would be a pretty accurate description.  

  8. # Blogger Holly at Tropic of Mom

    Hmm. I think a few of my close friends would know if our marriage was getting to a breaking point, but yeah, my husband and I would probably put on a good face for most everyone else. I don't think he'd kill me though!  

  9. # Blogger Shannon

    not sure... but i suck at acting... people know when Jeremy pisses me off etc... and his co-workers think i am a saint/crazy because of the things he says and does around the office... neither of us are very pc... and well it is fun lol... but from the beginning i told jeremy I don't believe in divorce... so you marry me... you stuck with me till death.

    i think the reason for most failed marriages is the lack of a firm support... a lot of couples can't be honest with people when they are dating... and things go down hill from there and don't know it... or some just see it as sex all the time... and while it is part of a marriage... sex shouldn't make it or break it... unless one cheats...  

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