Sunday, May 27, 2007

A relationship audit

(Edited for clarity's sake. Problem with lesbian drama, especially when trying to keep it anonymous, is that all the pronouns are the same.)

While not the intent of our trip to the US, visiting with friends served as a bit of a reminder about the health of our relationship. While we have our share of problems and have identified specifically the issues (and one issue more than any other) that can trigger trouble, "I love you" is not an empty statement in our house and we both like to spend time with the other. And after a weekend catching up with old friends, I am appreciative of just how much that means.

We stayed with one friend I met during my first graduate program; between some of A.'s LiveJournal posts and a few hints around her house, we've suspected something is up in her relationship. A'.s wife was away on business, so we didn't have a chance to witness anything in particular--and we weren't going to push for information since A. tends to lay out everything she's willing to and nothing more. Not that I want to see things fall apart for her, but Trillian and I both are not very fond of her wife. A. left the area where she grew up and moved a long distance so her wife could take a job in the city we lived near at the time... and then her wife left that job shortly after they had bought a house that stretched them financially. The wife has since taken another job and (fingers crossed) appears prepared to stay there for a while. And A. has finally, after a couple years, found a job that comes close to matching what she did before she moved. The wife is anti-intellectual--I don't just mean stupid, but really against making an effort to learn new things. And now we suspect that she may be cheating on A. While our friend might be better off in the long run without her wife, I hate to think about the complications involved in the whole mess.

And then there's our other friend, B.--who broke up with her longtime partner (also a friend, we'll call her C.) a little over a year-and-a-half ago. Again because of complications caused by owning a house together, they lived in the same house until recently when C. moved several states away. B. now lives in that house with her new girlfriend (of a little over a year). Whenever it came up, either with A. or with B. herself, all indications were that it was no big deal--everyone was an adult and handling it quite maturely. But it was quite clear when we saw B. that she's still very upset with C.

From what we've heard, B. was completely surprised when C. suggested they break up. We were surprised too when we found out, but more because of how long they'd been together (almost as long as Trillian and I); they had always picked at each other and did not seem to share many interests, but we had always figured there must be something else that kept them together. And then C. met someone online, definitely after the relationship ended, but before B. even thought of looking for someone. Suddenly B. had a new girlfriend--a woman she met at a support group for lesbians dealing with the end of a relationship. Very quickly they bought rings and started talking living together.

When we met the new girlfriend last year, we were ready to dislike her. But she was perfectly nice at our first meeting, relating especially well to Scooter--she drew train tracks on the paper covering the table at the restaurant so that he could run his Thomas along them. And she was great this time too. But we spent the whole time we were visiting noticing how B. picked on the new girlfriend--her profession and her health problems especially--and slipped in catty remarks about C.--how much it cost to buy her out of the house and all the stuff the ex took, obviously to spite her. We left feeling drained.

Now, Trillian and I have no desire to see our friends suffer, in or out of relationships, but we did come away appreciating what we have all the more. More than anything, we like and respect each other. When we have had problems (and what relationship doesn't?), the most distressing part for me has been that I might lose my best friend. Our personalities and interests overlap and complement each other in ways that allow us to truly enjoy each other's company while not merging into a single entity in an unhealthy manner. When we're in the midst of difficult times, I have found myself thinking, "But is that enough? What about...?" After the weekend with our friends, however, I am reminded that these things are not insignificant.


Laural said...

I hear you on this one. We have been going to marriage counseling - we've seen too many people breaking up (we got married young - it's hard). And you kind of leave being grateful for what you have but so aware of what you need to work on.
But I agree - it's so hard to see friends who are breaking up and getting into new relationships. The interesting is how often people end up with a very similar person.

Lisa b said...

Love the edit!
One of my best friends was in a relationship like B and C. For a long time I assumed I just didn't get it but then they split up.
It makes me hopeful that if it is obvious that two people should not be together then perhaps the banker and I are OK.
As hard as it is to see our friends suffer sometimes it is nice to feel more secure about your own relationship in comparison.