Last night I watched another episode of Downton Abbey where Lord Grantham goes too far with a new housemaid. They kissed and were about to go further before they were interrupted by Mr. Bates. Hiding behind the door, the housemaid was undetected, but Lord Grantham was so shaken up that he reconsidered what he was about to do and sent the maid away. A few days later, the maid approached Lord Grantham and gave her notice. He looked visibly sad, but explained to her that he has no right to be ungrateful for what he has, and agreed it would be best if she left, but not before they parted ways with a goodbye kiss.
A couple of things resonated with me in this scenario. First, that he was willing to passionately kiss the housemaid multiple times and not feel the need to divulge his transgressions to his wife, and second the idea that someone could have no right to be ungrateful for what they have.
The concern about the kiss seems obvious: Why would a spouse be okay with keeping such a secret? Because they didn’t go all the way is it not considered severe enough of a crime? I know this happens more than I’m aware or care to know about, and it’s not because I feel judgmental of those who stray. Honestly, I think we all have the capability, but it’s about choices we make and boundaries we put up in order to not end up in a compromising situation. If married, it’s about acting married even if we are going through a rough patch, boredom, or even a disintegration of the union. Jumping to another person under any of those circumstances does not end heartache, it just creates more for all involved – especially children.
If you’ve read any of my previous blog entries, I have alluded to marital problems myself, and feeling a bit of desperation at times in the dynamics between my husband and I. After 8 years together (5 of them married), pressure continues internally and as a couple to reach greater levels of understanding and intimacy, but all the pressure in the world may not make it happen. When needs have not been met for an extended period of time, it can leave couples vulnerable to outside forces. I’m not going to lie, I have felt them before but each time I have, where do I turn to? That person? Nope. My personal diary? Nope. My family? Hell no.
I go to the source of whatever frustration I’m experiencing – My husband. Maybe this wouldn’t work in every relationship, but for me it’s a safeguard I use to keep the lines of communication open so that I don’t isolate. Some husbands might be extremely upset by their wife admitting something of that nature, but not mine. I’m not sure whether to be grateful for that or concerned that there is not more of a happy medium between being possessive and apathetic. He would argue that he’s validating my feelings and not punishing me for them, but it’s hard to accept, I suspect mostly because society doesn’t exactly condone brutal honesty about human attraction as a method in addressing and coping with marital hang ups.
Either way, I think husbands and wives should be able to speak openly about what they are experiencing in the real world, not just what they think they should be experiencing because they’re expected to be in “wedded bliss”. Though I recognize Downton Abbey is fiction, in a perfect drama-free world, Lord Grantham would have told his wife the minute he was having feelings for someone else. It might have opened its own Pandora’s box, but at least there would be room for growth and improvement in their marriage.
My second concern – the idea that someone has no right to be ungrateful for what they have – stems from what I’m currently struggling with in my marriage. Are things better than they were? Yep. Are we continuing to make progress? I suppose. Is there a strong bond? Yep. Are there missing pieces that have been missing for too long? Yes. And what if they never get found? Would it be ungrateful of me if I gave up?
I am a human being, once madly in love with my husband and now feeling uncertain of what our union means. Has my growth in self-esteem spawned these new dilemmas?
I’m not sure, but for now my lips will keep moving and my needs will be made known. No secrets, no hidden resentments. It will all be out on the table, whether my dear husband likes it or not.
Update: After reading this entry to my husband, and especially the last line, he said “I wouldn’t want it any other way”. Sweetness.
Photo Credit: Downton Abbey