Sunday, March 23, 2008
The Fully Competent Spouse
Oh my God I am a mountain of mania. I have tons of work to do, a huge zit on my face, and Bets is on vacation for another week - she had a great time in Chicago where she fell in love with a big old Golden Retriever and so now we have decided to definitely get a dog only we seem to be heading for a shih tzu named Tamara. Before we dive into lesbian divorce, does anyone have anything to tell me about shih tzus? The only one I know will only eat off of wet paper towels.
So the couples not having sex off-shoot of the Bunny Syndrome has really gotten people in a tizzy. My friends in NY insist everyone in NY is having sex - gay and straight - it's just Bostonians who are not having sex. My friends in Boston think the New Yorkers aren't having good sex, that it ain't the quantity it's the quality. My friends on the west coast are too busy having sex to comment.
A very close friend of mine avoided marriage for as long as he could for fear he would instantly stop wanting to have sex as soon as he tied the knot with his girlfriend of 10 years. She would just smile and roll her eyes whenever he said this.
Another couple I know - straight - has sex once a year.
It seems the lesbians not wanting to have sex thing is mostly mythology. Maybe lesbians are easier to accept when people tell themselves, oh they're not having sex anyway.
Oh, and what about Brittany Spaniels? I hear they're sweet but a little rambunctious.
Sex is complicated regardless of the participants. Gender aside, the black hole of doom is when couples fall out of the habit of intimacy and then cannot for the life of their relationship figure a way to jump back in. And with lesbians, it's not like the world is encouraging you to. The world would prefer you remain bunnies, palatable and platonic.
But I'm no expert. I'm just a writer. How about Basset Hounds? We need a docile dog who will not need to go for a walk every morning but will be content to poop in the yard until I we can walk her later in the day.
So my therapist threw a wrench into my life when she uttered this phrase, "the fully competent spouse."
The first thing you do when you hear "the fully competent spouse" is wonder whether your spouse/partner is fully competent. Can she cook, clean, sew, drive a truck, lift heavy objects, put entertainment centers from Ikea together, talk, not talk, drive, play tennis, grow bonzai plants, reupholster, catch a ball? And then you tally the no's against the yes's and realize you have like 18 no's and 3 yes's and that makes you wonder whether you should dismantle your life.
Then I noticed that when I said "fully competent spouse" to straight women they laughed. But when I said it to lesbians they got all serious and furrowed their brows.
That and the lesbian divorce rate got me wondering if maybe women expect too much of each other as partners. Many of the straight women I know shrug off the inadequacies of their husbands/boyfriends as par for the course. They don't expect to be fulfilled by the man in their life. They figure their girlfriends will provide the missing links and their girlfriends agree and television and movies and books all reflect the same: you marry your man for the things your girlfriends can't provide and you hang with your girlfriends to grab that which your man can't offer.
But lesbians? I'm thinking maybe we expect to get it all from each other. We expect to be fulfilled sexually, intellectually, spiritually, gastronomically, astronomically. It's a tall order. Many of the lesbian couples I know who have split have left relationships surprisingly functional in comparison to their straight counterparts.
Do we hold women to a higher standard?
Do we not have enough models for how to work through the incompetencies we all possess?
Do we always assume straight couples know something we don't know and therefore are doing better than us and so we denounce that which we have?
Is breaking up a form of internalized homophobia?
And what about dachshunds? Too little? Too hard to train?
It took me a long time to realize - duh - there is no such thing as the fully competent spouse. It's a fantasy on the part of anyone who ever loved somebody. And realizing that was the first step to a healthier relationship.
Now I think I'm looking for the fully competent dog. But you saw that coming. Some poodle mix? A Basse-poo?
Maybe a lesbi-poo.