It's been a rocky road for married couples lately, what with the Eliot Spitzer hooker revelations, the confessions by his replacement, David Paterson, of his extramarital affairs, the 20-something dalliances of Michigan Sen. Debbie Stabenow's hubby and the rumors that long-married 55-year-old Russia President Vladimir Putin has been hanging with gymnast babe Alina Kabaeva, 24.
You have to wonder, just what the heck is going on?
I don't have the answer, but some people who would like to be happily married but can't are looking at all of us romantically struggling heteros and laughing.
And rightfully so.
Same-sex couples are a lot happy and healthier when it comes to love, or so says the Gottman researchers in Seattle — the same lab that has provided countless landmark studies on heteros.
After 12 years of research, they've found that, yes, gays and lesbians still struggle with a lot of the issues heteros do — and I've seen some relationship breakups among my gay friends that would send you straight to Dr. Phil or a bottle of vodka, whichever was closer at the time — but they handle conflict better, using "affection and humor when they bring up a disagreement, and partners are more positive in how they receive it."
And they don't get into the negative stuff and contempt that the same researchers determined years ago as the kiss o' death for marriages.
They're also more honest about monogamy and sex — especially since some gay men view sex outside the relationship as totally OK. But they don't do it secretively, and that's the biggest difference. It's the deception, the lying that often hurts more in extramarital affairs than the actual sex. Imagine how things might have worked out differently for all the above and countless other unfaithful men and women before them if they had the guts to say to their partner, "we have a problem and I was thinking of solving it this way ..." Or, you know, some variation thereof.
In part, it's the Venus/Mars thing — men will understand men better and women will understand women, so it makes sense. But Esther Rothblum, a professor of Women's Studies at San Diego State University, tells the Oregonian that it goes beyond that. All you have to do is look at how they are viewed in society at large.
Gay and lesbian couples must take large risks in just choosing to live openly, and then they must actively work to stay together because there are few of the societal or outside pressures that can help keep heterosexual couples married even if they're not happy.
Well, they may not have that but, as the paper notes, they often have double the wardrobe, and that, my friends, is one great perk!
Still, I'm pretty happy being a woman who loves her girlfriends but loves men, too, but in a different way. But I think we have a lot to learn about loving relationships and honesty from our broad-minded brothers and sisters.
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