I know a couple who gather their friends together every few months to talk about marriage. Not statistics or horror stories--their own marriages. What's working. What's not working. What's changing, what's not. The stuff - the real stuff - they're dealing with every day. This friendship group's stated mission is to support each other through it all.
Now I know most people would rather gouge their eyes out with a compostable bamboo spoon than spend an evening this way. It's hard to imagine letting your friends in on the gritty-shitty parts of your daily interactions with your mate--the petty squabbles, the hidden resentments, the fears about money/sex/growing old, etc. Quick! Who're the Blazers playing tonight!
Here's what it got me thinking, though: what if we all had people in our lives who supported who we were as a couple? What if we created a wall (a good wall, not a Keep-Out-Everyone-Who's-Not-Us Wall) around ourselves as a couple?
I see it as a Booster Team - complete with song, uniforms and possibly pom-poms. (I may be mixing up cheerleading here...) We would choose to spend time with people who believe in our relationship and support us fighting for it. People who would listen and not flinch or fix, but would tell the truth. We would read and watch and listen to stories of people who work to stay together and believe in partnerships. We would support healthy love and connection and intimacy -- no matter what size, age, color, shape, gender, religion.
And in our own couple, we would focus on us and what makes us stronger. Spend time together: join a cause, run a marathon, go to a workshop. Fight laziness and do something other than watching TV every weekend. Put the phone down and really look at your partner and ask: "Who is this person and what do they want in life?" More than that, we would keep who we are as a couple at the center of everything we hold vital.
There's not a lot of support in our culture for helping couples through daily life together; that's why we have to reach out and find support, create a team of people and rituals and agreements to carry us through. It takes nothing less.