Wednesday, July 25, 2012

He's Truly Quite Lovely Most of the Time

Hand in hand with the revelatory beginning of my week and my desire to let those close to me in more, I've been thinking about what I share and don't share with the people in my life.  When my cousin Laura was here and I started to spill all the stuff that was bottled up, a portion of it was Joe-related.  It's inevitable that when you live with someone and share your life with someone, that sometimes that person will make you want to punch them in the face.  As long as you do not actually do it, that's fine.  When you've been with someone for a really long time, when you know them inside and out, there's bound to be at least a few things you discover along the way that you don't like.  As long as those things aren't deal breakers and you can love each other deeply in spite of those few things, that's fine too. 

So I started to vent about Joe and our relationship and my sometime frustrations and some of the hurdles we're leaping (even when you're leaping them together, you've still got to leap).  And then I immediately felt guilty and felt the need to qualify.  "But you know, he's got such a good heart and he's so kind and x and y and z."  I don't really need to do that with Laura.  She's known Joe longer than I have.  I can let it all hang out with her and she's not going to think less of him or me or us as a couple.  Even so, I still felt guilty for suggesting to a person outside of our relationship that he's anything less than wonderful.  He is wonderful.  But he's also human and obviously everyone and every relationship can't be all wonderful all the time.

When I started to think about it, I realized that I don't really discuss the true nitty gritty with anyone, not even my best friends.  I also realized that I do not have even one happily committed friend whom I have ever heard complain about his/her significant other.  I mean, sure, we have a good laugh over the not picking up socks and the gas and the mothers-in-law, but as far as the down deep stuff, the real issues, and the "I'm struggling with this about him/her...," it never gets discussed.

I know for me, I want to protect my man.  He's 99% fantastic and he makes me very happy and I love our life together, so I would hate for anyone to hear the 1% and judge him unfairly or focus only on that.  I want my friends and family to adore him as I do and to love us as a couple.  So I tend to share only the good stuff. 

I also know that I want to protect my friends.  If a good friend is complaining about her boyfriend or if I think he's not meeting my near-impossible standards for how she should be treated, it gets noted and I am primed and ready to vow to hate him forever if she just says the word (and maybe even if she never does).  It takes a lot of work to get back in my good graces after I've taken a vow over a glass of wine, fairly or unfairly.

I read this article on 15 Ways to Stay Married recently (linked through A Cup of Jo) and No. 12 struck a chord with me, and then my conversation with Laura really brought it home:

The husband pact says this: I promise to listen to you complain about your husband even in the most dire terms, without it affecting my good opinion of him. I will agree with your harshest criticism, accept your gloomiest predictions. I will nod and furrow my brow and sigh when you describe him as a hideous ogre. Then when your fight is over and love shines again like a beautiful sunbeam in your life, I promise to forget everything you said and regard him as the most charming of princes once more. The husband pact is very useful because you want to be able to vent to your friend without having her actually start hating your husband. Because you don't really mean all those things you say. And she, the swearer of the pact, knows this.

You would think it shouldn't really be necessary among great friends, but maybe it is.  Maybe it needs to be said and understood so we can talk more openly about these things and be more honest.

Do you feel the need for a pact?  Or maybe it's silly?  Or maybe I'm the only one with a fiance that can drive me up the wall with frustration on occasion?  Good Lord, I hope not.