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Name: Opus
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Sunday, January 09, 2005

Domestic Bliss?

Brimming with dark humour ‘Desperate Housewives’ started last week (Wed Channel 4 10pm). It’s the latest hit US drama to arrive on our doorstep that exposes the reality behind a veneer of domestic bliss of a group of housewives (aged early-thirties to mid-forties) in upmarket suburbia. If David Lynch’s ‘Twin Peaks’ had you missing social engagements and you happily watched ‘Sex & The City’ with a touch of ‘The Stepford Wives’ then ‘Desperate Housewives’ is one for you.

In the same vein (but far less dramatic), on Saturday 8th The Independent published an article ‘Desperate Husbands’. Five married men - who probably when they were single, would have been able to use words such as solvent, good job, GSOH, in a singles advert - revealed the reality of their domestic bliss.

Dan 32 is feeling the pressure of bringing up twins. He’s now the only one working and is kind of in denial over being the sole financial provider. At the same time he is being very hands on with the twins and is fast realising that the word twins simply defines the biological way in which they entered the world, and they look very similar, aside from this their rhythms, needs, and emotions are rarely in tempo. Sleep depravation, space depravation, tranquillity depravation, quality time depravation, along with an overwhelming sense of responsibility, is all kicking in at the same time. There is one good point though; they’ll both be off to nursery then to school at the same time. Well actually that’s two good points.

Martin 52 is a romantic and an idealist, nothing wrong with that, unless you get married that is. I sense his wistfulness of what life was like as a young man, free to roam, no responsibilities, chasing his dreams. He meets his princess falls in love and marries in to the happy ever after, except the real tale has a different plot. It would seem that his princess is realistic and likes her tangibles, so needs to acquire - the house, the children, and the bigger house. Perhaps this chafes against his more sensitive and romantic vision of what being married means but at the same time he realises that he’d be misplaced without the love, the children, and the house.

Olly 30 is married to a tidy (perhaps obsessively so) woman and he admits that he is not the tidiest of guys. What do think is happening? What do most tidy women do when married (and in love with), and living with an untidy guy… they tidy up after him (constantly). Olly complains of “the hand”. “It has become an entity in its own right”. I imagine an Addams Familyesque ‘Thing’ running around on all fours picking up Olly’s newspaper, keys, notebook, etc. and whisking them off to a safer, tidier home. The situation is so advanced that Olly has to call his wife at work to ask where stuff is! Olly’s wife is aware of her behaviour, but my guess is that in the politics of domestic bliss tidy always wins over untidy.

Iain 46 met his wife at university, he recalls always being the one who wanted to stay up all night when they were out socialising and his partner would prefer to leave early. They’ve been together now for 23 years and as one would imagine any relationship of such a length will encounter problems. It seems this happened with Iain, there were underlying problems not being discussed, and then to top it all off a mid-life crises of the grass is always greener variety (is there any other) struck. Iain had an affair and lived away from home for one year. The grass was not greener, but the affair acted as a catalyst in solving Iain’s marital problems. The flip side is that during Iain’s year away his wife started to socialise a lot and got used to not having him around. She didn’t stop socialising on Iain’s return and now she is the one often out late socialising with friends. Although he doesn’t recommend it Iain thinks his mid-life crisis helped his marriage in the long-term, and now he and his wife both realise that space and a certain amount of independence in a relationship is healthy.

Dean 38 has a good marriage, but still he worries. He worries about the possibility of not having a good marriage at some point in the future, and what this would mean. As coverage in the media last year proved fathers fear losing their children; the law is on the side of the mother – even if the father feels that the breakdown of the marriage was the mothers fault.

Dean feels immobilized in the face of such a possibility. Knowing that not only would he lose his children he would also lose his home. Everything a father loves can so easily be taken away from him if he makes any mistakes. But should fatherhood really be such a test?

This article made me smile in a way because it confirms in my mind that men and women are in fact not so far apart when it comes to the experience of marriage and living together.

We do go through the same emotions, have the same needs, concerns, and fears. But there is all too often a lack of clear open communication; true emotions get left unexpressed needs get overlooked, concerns get swept under the rug, and fears grow into ugly monsters. Then for some reason irrational behaviour sets in.

I don’t know about you but I’d rather share the experience – the ups and downs, the stresses and strains, the laughter the tears – in a more full and complete way, through promoting a relationship of true equals where the channel of communication is always open.

posted by Opus at 23:32

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