Through the years, many friends have gotten married and I've noticed that most people no longer ask the married women about their relationship with their significant other. Yes, women complain about their husbands inability to load the dishwasher or some perceived slight but often, no one leans in and says, "How are things going?" in that grave tone once used to discuss errant boyfriends.
Of course, when I speak to my married friends about their marital relationship, it's clear that there are many frustrations. The trivial ones are loudly proclaimed, but the serious ones are more quietly discussed. The husband who doesn't understand a wife's passion for her work. The man who treats his wife as an employee ever since she quit her job to be home with the kids. The woman who doesn't know how to talk to her husband because they never have in-depth conversations anymore. Unions which were strong are sometimes derailed after a baby arrives, yet as visitors pile up at a doorstep to inquire about the newborn, hardly anyone asks the new parents "How are things going between the two of you?"
Though the sense of isolation felt by women after given birth is discussed with increasing frequency, I think there is a similar sense of isolation after marriage despite the fact that marriage is touted as the optimal proof of companionship. Going from being single to being in what is supposed to be a committed long-term relationship is a drastic change and somewhat daunting after all. After I got married, I felt the giant leap of faith it took to attach my life to another's so intimately. Yet, despite having dozens of married friends, only one of my friends shared that she too felt that gulf that lay between our expectations and reality.
A few of my closest friends have married recently and, even though they have wed wonderful men and they are well aware of the realities of even the most ideal unions, I will sit on the sofa with them, glass of wine in hand and ask, "How are things going?"