By Shannon Ralph
Reason #20: We work on our relationship.
Relationships are hard work. Lesbian relationships are just as hard as straight relationships. You wouldn’t think so, right? Perhaps it’s a different sort of hard work, but it is work. To the uneducated eye, two women together may seem like the perfect relationship. Just yesterday at our parent/teacher conference, our daughter’s 1st grade teacher said to us, “Women just seem to belong together. It’s got to be easier, right?”
I’ve heard it all before. Women get one another. Women sympathize with one another. Women need nurturing and women are nurturing. So they’re a perfect combination, right? Two women can shop together. Be the best of friends. Discuss books and art and literature. Two women can share clothes. Share feelings. Share secrets. Share thoughts and dreams. It’s like the sixth grade slumber party that never ends. Right?
Just like your marriage, my marriage is hard work. Painfully hard work. To my great dismay, Ruanita hates to shop. I have about 25 pounds on her, so we can’t share clothes. We do share a sock drawer, which just manages to piss me off because she busts a hole in the toe of every pair of socks she puts on. I don’t know if she has talons in the place of toenails or what the issue is. She doesn’t read books unless forced to do so. After 15 years together, we have no more secrets to share. Our only dream at this point is a full night’s sleep uninterrupted by little urchins climbing into our bed. We do, however, discuss feelings. We discuss feelings ad nauseum.
In the last month or so, we have discussed every sort of feeling imaginable. “Are you okay?” is a question that is thrown around my house practically every ten minutes like clockwork. Are you okay? What are you thinking? How do you feel? Are you mad at me? Why are you in a mood? What is your problem? Are you going to cry? Are you okay? Did something happen? Are you sad? These conversations are enough to drive a person insane. Utterly mad. Everything is negotiated. Every decision is “processed” to death. Every action and reaction is equitable. Everything is balanced and completely egalitarian. Every feeling is analyzed and every emotion scrutinized. It’s enough to put someone over the edge.
Don’t get me wrong. I am as guilty of being too enmeshed as Ruanita is. I am constantly asking her if she is okay. I pounce at the slightest inkling of unhappiness or discord. We are so attuned to one another’s emotional states that it becomes burdensome. You should see the fights we have. Do we fight like a normal couple—screaming, yelling, and then making up? No, of course not. We would not want to say anything that would hurt the other person’s feelings. So our fights become this hostile silence that permeates every inch of our house. The rooms are filled with this crackling electricity that never quite fully surfaces. I’m sure she’d like to punch me and relieve some of that tension. I am sure I would feel better if I screamed “Bitch!” at the top of my lungs. But neither of us does that because we would then immediately have to rush to the other person and ask that question I have come to despise. Are you okay? And then, even worse, I would have to utter the second most popular phrase in my household. I’m sorry.
Sometimes I think it would be easier to be married to a man. A big jock of a man who sits around watching football and scratching himself all day. A man who doesn’t give a rip about my feelings. A man who refuses to discuss feelings at all. Or even better yet, a man who is so out of touch with his own feelings that he lives in happy, dopey oblivion. Wouldn’t that be easier? Yea…probably not.
As it stands, I am a lesbian. A lesbian who is very much in love with my partner. I am quite certain I will love her until the day I die—which may very well be at her hands following a fit of rage induced by the 10,345th time I ask her, “Are you okay?”
Marriage is hard work. Even a marriage between two women. And working hard at our relationship is just one more way that my marriage is just like your marriage.
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