Urban Marriage 5: A Lesbian Marriage Stress Test is a glitzy-yet-gritty relationship saga that follows Katie, a successful realtor busy with a new venture. She’s also a woman whose journey of self-discovery after divorce leads to unexpected romance and marriage, to the strident, self-assured Della. In previous volumes, Della begins as tough career coach and friend to Katie, before their relationship progresses to more.
Urban Marriage 5, the fifth installment in the Urban Marriage series, sees a committed but in many respects no more settled Katie wrestle with workplace homophobia, struggle to gain the acceptance of her family, and continue to reconcile her sexual identity with her Christian faith.
The drama becomes more intimate and perhaps more universal, as Katie struggles with insecurities about her aging body and satisfying her wife’s physical needs.
Della emerges here as a ‘bedroom gymnast’, a woman with more experience of queer relationships and of sex. There’s tension in her frustrations with Katie’s more conservative and hidebound attitudes, as well as differences in libido that can afflict any relationship.
There’s also the inevitable consequence of both women leading high-pressure, often separated working lives, with little time left for home.
Della and Katie’s new marriage must endure not only these challenges, but the spectre of jealousy and secrecy, as Della reconnects with an ex-girlfriend.
Tulipe Pachere’s novel explores a number of ideas without becoming too didactic. It ultimately conveys a hopeful message through Della and Katie’s dramas: the hard graft of building a marriage can succeed and that intolerances of many stripes may be overcome. It also optimistically suggests that faith, evangelism, and queer culture need not be mutually exclusive.
Perhaps more welcome for many readers, maybe even a little subversive, is the frank discussion of the realities, indignities, and joys of midlife passion during and after the menopause. This rides alongside the role of surrogate partner therapy in helping the couple with physical expression. These topics, so seldom explored in fiction, makes Urban Marriage 5 an enlightening and provocative read.