My husband, the psychologist, used to call them “gruesome twosomes,” couples who were so unhappy, you could never understand why they stayed together. And yet, stick together they did – anyone who tried to pry them apart quickly learned that their misery was a form of ‘crazy glue,’ once applied, impossible to remove.
I’ve known lots of “gruesome twosomes” over the years. Their bond survives emotional and physical abuse of the highest order, sometimes subtle, sometimes overt. I’ve known couples who haven’t spoken to one another for decades, or, if they did, it was only to insult or demean the another. I’ve known couples who haven’t touched one another in years (forget actual sex). Amazingly, their bond survives all challenges: infidelity (real and psychological), addiction, indifference and plain old mental cruelty. If one of the pair attempts to change, to make their lives better, the other fights tooth and nail to keep the status quo.
What keeps them together? What makes their relationship work while other, seemingly better relationships fail? And God forbid you suggest they might (after listening to them complain for decades) be happier apart, they will look at you as if you were crazy. What? Take all the fun out of their lives?
For some strange reason, they make great subject matter for my paintings. George Grosz, my idol, the German Expressionist, drew some of the best ‘gruesome twosomes’ ever. Although I never deliberately set out to draw them, they keep turning up in my work. Maybe it’s because there are so many of them around.
HAPPY VALENTINES DAY