Put a ring on it – 28 years later

I have been a bit obsessed with the A&E  reality show, “Gene Simmons Family Jewels.” I wouldn’t call myself a KISS fan, but somehow I started watching the show.  I enjoyed the family dynamic and I found Shannon Tweed to be an interesting woman. What had me transfixed was how Gene and Shannon had been together for 28 years, had two children and never married. If you watched the show, you could see that Shannon clearly wanted to get married. You could also see that Gene clearly loves her and his family.

As the show progressed, Shannon struggled with continuing to love Gene while feeling disrespected by his belief that his actions didn’t affect her. Gene had convinced himself that because of his job as a rock star that the rules didn’t apply to him. Shannon convinced herself that because he was a good provider and father that it was enough for her. Last season, both came to a crossroads. Shannon found a picture of Gene on the internet surrounded by women. It was a huge sign of disrespect and Shannon questioned whether her needs were really being met in their relationship. Shannon removed herself from the home and prepared herself to leave the relationship. The absence of Shannon helped Gene to understand how much she meant to him and how selfish he has been in treating her as if they were not in a committed relationship. The last season played out in an interplay of couples therapy and the repair of the relationship. The season ended with Gene deciding that Shannon was “the one”. He took her on a trip to Belize and the season finale showed Gene proposing to a shocked Shannon Tweed.

The first episode of the new season aired on Oct. 4th, and it opened with the question mark of the last episode. Would Shannon say yes? After many tears and a mixture of emotions, Shannon admitted that she did want to marry him. In therapy, she said that she was happy and angry at the same time. She was happy that he finally wanted to marry her, but she was angry that he hadn’t wanted to do it on his own. She wondered if he really wanted to marry her or if  he just didn’t want to lose her and that’s why he made the decision. She was also concerned that he wasn’t ready to be faithful. The episode waffles back and forth between the therapy sessions and Shannon and Gene announcing and celebrating their engagement. It’s clear that Gene is committed to the idea, but both still have reservations and uncertainty.

To me, this show has been a great study in the struggle that can exist in relationships between women and men. It seems like women want something from men that they are resistant to believe that they should have to give. Gene seemed to believe that because he was a rock star that he was not responsible for Shannon’s feelings. When he dug deep, through the help of the therapist, he realized that he was afraid to be like his father. He had an irrational fear that if he married Shannon that he would abandon her and their children like his father had done to his own mother. The irony of the situation is that even though he was with his family, he was emotionally abandoning them by not allowing himself to open his heart and love them as they deserved. A man loves his children by loving and respecting their mother.

Shannon admitted her fault in this relationship as well. She assumed that “unconditional love” meant that she didn’t ask for her needs to be met in the relationship. In the episode, she told the therapist that she learned that love has to have conditions. People have to have conditions within a relationship for it to be loving and fair. It seems that she was growing resentful over the years and by not speaking up, it was eroding the love that she felt for Gene. As their relationship moves forward, it’s clear that changes will have to be made for Shannon to trust Gene. The therapist asked Shannon to tell him exactly what she needed Gene to do for her to feel as if his is being trustworthy. In a comical moment, Gene’s mother told Shannon that she, “should follow him everywhere”. Also, when Gene admitted that he was afraid of being like his father she said, “he can’t think for himself.” The mother reassured Gene that he was not his father and he had a choice of the type of husband he wanted to be.

What can be learned? In a relationship, if you are meeting the needs of the other person, you have every right to ask that your needs are met in return. If the person refuses, you should make a decision whether you want to leave or stay. Love doesn’t mean that you turn a blind eye to what the other person does and love them anyway. Love means respect. Anyone that loves you should respect your needs and figure out how to compromise with their own.

As for Gene and Shannon, this season will chronicle the planning of their wedding. I’m sure I will have more posts as each episode brings up more thoughts on relationships. In case you are wondering, People magazine posted their wedding picture today. So you can get married, even after 28 years.

 “I look at my wedding band and think, ‘What was I afraid of all this time?’ “- Gene Simmons, People magazine. 

Gene Simmons and Shannon Tweed wedding picture: Christopher Polk/Getty as posted on people.com

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