When it comes to love and marriage, Al Bundy may have actually been onto something. Once the vows have been exchanged and the babies had, married life is actually more about partnership and practicality than it is about steamy sex, swooning and sweet, sweet spooning (stay on your own side of the bed if you know what’s good for you).
That why HBO’s series Togetherness really strikes a chord with us. The show, which is currently in its second season, focuses on married couple Brett (Mark Duplass) and Michelle (Melanie Lynskey) — along with his best friend Alex (Steve Zissis) and her sister Tina (Amanda Peet) — as they navigate the choppy waters of married life after kids.
Sure, it can be a little bleak at times (Michelle did have an affair at the end of Season 1, after all), but it’s also a nice change of pace from the traditional couplings we see all too often on TV and in film. Observe.
1. The hot and heavy sex dies out
There’s no sex quite like wedding night sex, now is there? Except that it’s bound to go (slightly) downhill from there. While there are plenty of “got to get it on” moments in most marriages, they seem to come at less frequent intervals once you’ve been together for a while and the grind of daily life gets in the way. That’s not to say you still don’t get it on, but the “have to have each other right now” vibe that we see in plenty of other shows just isn’t always the case.
Instead, as showcased in Togetherness, it’s more of a matter of routine moves and scheduled appointments. Sadly, adding in a little spice isn’t always that easy.
2. Kids make everything less sexy
What’s that? You like having sex on your kid’s legos at exactly six weeks after your second child was born? Well good on you. Because for most couples, even though their sex drive may pick up after having kids, the pressures of parenting, sheer exhaustion and lack of privacy makes everything a little less sexy. Just ask Michelle, who finds herself in that exact situation on the show.
Yeah, and the movies would have us believe that sex after a baby is a matter of just adding a little makeout session first.
3. Trying new things can be disastrous
If you haven’t seen the scene in which Michelle attempts to seduce Brett by becoming a dominatrix but accidentally slaps his balls into oblivion instead, well… let’s just say this reaction is only part of the parcel that was that wondrous scene. You see, unlike other shows where the dudes seem to love being submissive, sometimes it’s just plain weird. And most of the time, it doesn’t quite work out the way you want it to.
4. At the same time, sometimes monotony can be bliss
Sex aside, sometimes there’s nothing better than just cuddling up and watching TV or a movie like normal people. And that’s perfectly fine, thank you very much.
5. It can be like riding a tidal wave
Sometimes you’re totally into each other, and other times you just want your own space. Which can make renting a hotel room just to have sex a little less romantic than it was in your twenties when you first got together. Once you get there, you may find that all you want to do is sleep.
Also of note: this is more what we imagine an affordable hotel room would look like, and not what those fancy fling hotels from the pictures would have us believe.
6. Date nights out aren’t always romantic
Oh, you thought that all date nights out meant that a couple sat by candle light, staring into each others eyes and pretending that they didn’t have spit-up on them hours earlier? Nice try. Sometimes all married people want is a nice night out with friends and some drinks. Oh, and a new couple to remind them that they used to do cute things like sit in each other’s laps too.
7. Your spouse gets the brunt of your bad mood
Your significant other shouldn’t be your emotional punching bag, but sometimes when things just aren’t going your way there’s no one else to take it out on. Especially if they exhibit one of their annoying little character traits minutes after you get home from a bad day. There’s nothing wrong with that, so long as you recognize to give each other space, and don’t get your “duke it out face” on the way Michelle does here.
What’s that Hollywood? You thought all couples only used each other as support beams through the hard times? Sometimes you have to hammer away at a board in order for it to be a little sturdier.
8. The grass looks greener on the other side
Sometimes when you aren’t getting that “new rush” from the person you’ve been with for more than a decade, it’s easy to wonder “what if.” Especially if a nice new dude comes along to help you with your passion project and acts like he actually sees who you are.
That’s just the problem though, isn’t it? As soon as Michelle had that affair she realized what a mistake it was, and how good she actually had it all along. Take that, Sex and the City.
9. One person always puts in more effort
That doesn’t mean it’s always the same person putting in the effort, it just means that as relationships ebb and flow, there’s one person who is willing to put in the work, and the other who is slacking off. That’s where balance comes in. And sometimes, feelings of being unappreciated surface. It’s perfectly normal, and doesn’t mean that the whole thing is falling off the tracks. Besides, divorce isn’t a word that’s as easily thrown around in real life as it is on TV and in films.
10. Your spouse isn’t always your best friend
Sure, sure. They say marry your best friend and we totally get that. After all, your partner is the one person that you will probably see every single day for the rest of your life (God willing). But that also means that there will be times you’re just going to need to vent about your partner to someone who will listen with a non-judgemental ear.
In regular shows, this venting may be a sign of an upcoming divorce or affair. Not so with Togetherness. Sometimes you just need to let that stress out with a little vent and a subsequent air drums session. Because nothing screams “I feel better already” than a little air drums.
11. And finally, even though you love them, you don’t always like them
Your spouse can irritate you, make you mad beyond belief and even make you want to yell at them, but even though you may need a little bit of a time out or a night out on the town with some of your other friends, you also have a deep love for them that doesn’t just disappear over a big fight. Sometimes you just have to swallow your pride and fake it in order to smooth things over, and before you know it, you’ll go right back to that blissful state of marriage that you were living in before.
Or as blissful as true life allows, at any rate.