Because when you know their story, they feel like your friends...

When the ABC show "The Wonder Years" ended, I cried. It felt like people I knew were moving away after six years of hanging out together once a week. Even though in my head, I knew they weren't real.

Reality TV puts a different spin on this. You make that same connection, but with people who actually exist.

Last weekend, as John and I were walking through Walmart, I saw the US cover story on Jon and Kate Gosslen and I was genuinely sad. Over the past week, I've thought about their story with something akin to depression. Maybe because it connects with the stories of some of our real friends over the past few years. Or maybe just because I feel like I know them from watching Jon and Kate Plus 8 (or as Erin's son, Cody, calls it: My Boys and Girls.)

It's weird that a first instinct is to assess blame. If you read the press Kate either gets painted as a victim or a shrew, but we know from watching this drama play out before that more often it is about two very real, very imperfect people where one of them decides to test-drive a different life rather than pour love and energy into the one they already have.

I think the phrase that's haunted me the most on this is Jon's quote "Yes, I have female friends - but that is all she is." It is a phrase we've heard in different variations in all of the scenarios of our friends' marriages falling apart.

Which brings me to a concept I truly believe: you can't maintain close personal opposite-sex friendships when you are married. Take sex out of the equation. The challenge is that whatever time, compassion, energy, etc. you give to that relationship isn't going to your marriage, and your marriage will suffer for the lack. (BTW, I think this can be true of same-sex friendships as well.)

Reality is that marriages aren't perfect--in fact, even as I type this I'm particularly annoyed at John about something. The difference is that I'm not going to call someone else (or use this blog post) to vent about it. I'm going to talk with him and work it out. The thing is, I love him enough to wait until 9:30am. After all, it is Saturday morning.
© Random Cathy
Maira Gall