The Perfect Couple That Really Isn’t
Wednesday - April 11, 2007
Everyone thought that Rodney and Janine had the perfect relationship. You know, they were one of those couples who did everything together.
When they were among a large group of people they could show affection to each other without being gross, and they seemed perfectly comfortable to be in the same room but in separate conversations for most of the night. They always seemed to find their way back to one another throughout for a quick peck on the lips or shared moment of laughter.
They had great jobs, loving families and a fabulous house. They seemed like the perfect couple.
“I’m so envious of their relationship,” my friend Alexia confessed to me one night at a party. “Look at them. They’re gorgeous together. And they have it all.”
I looked across the room at Rodney and Janine and agreed that they did seem quite happy.
“But you never know ...” I told Alexia. “You never know what happens behind closed doors.”
“Yeah, right,” Alexia scoffed. “No way. Not these two. I’ve never even seen them exchange cross words.”
Alexia may have been correct - Rodney and Janine had never publicly exchanged harsh words - but I discovered soon enough that this “perfect couple” had issues just like every other couple I know.
Janine and I were rarely ever alone. We mostly hung out in a group. But on this particular Friday evening we were left alone while our significant others played a game of softball. Janine and I were watching from the stands.
“I’m just so mad at Rodney,” Janine blurted out at the bottom of the fourth inning. “He’s just so aggravating sometimes.”
“Huh?!” I said, surprised. “I thought you guys never fought!”
Janine shot me a look - one that non-verbally communicated, “Are you nuts? Of course we fight.”
“It’s just that I’ve never seen you even look mad at each other around us,” I continued.
“Yeah, we’re good at that,” Janine said. “I know everyone thinks we’re the perfect couple, but we fight just like everyone else. And over big things too, sometimes, like religion and how we’re going to raise our kids. Rodney is a total workaholic and just three months ago we were talking about breaking up.”
“What?!” I couldn’t believe my ears. “Are things OK now?”
“Yeah, well, we’re working on it,” Janine said. “It’s a work in progress for sure. Growing pains, I like to call them. Every relationship goes through it, I think. If you can get past the hard times, it makes you stronger as a couple. But you both have to try really hard.”
Maybe that was the difference between Rodney and Janine and other couples I knew. Rodney and Janine knew they weren’t perfect, they knew they had things they disagreed on and things they needed to work on in their relationship. But their love for each other was still at the top. It was always the thing they expressed most to one another and to those around them. And whatever problems they did have, stayed mostly behind closed doors.
There is a big danger in being envious of a relationship you see played out only in social gatherings and weekend gettogethers. You can never assume that what someone else has is what you want for yourself, unless you’ve walked in their shoes.
Every couple will have their problems, even those who seem perfect on the outside. The important thing to remember is not the fantasy image but how you deal with the day-to-day maintenance of the relationship.
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