Coupling

One of the themes that runs through The Girls from Ames (which I just finished last night) is dating, finding the right and wrong men, marriage, divorce and more dating. As far as women have come, and I am told it’s a “long way, baby”, much of our lives is eaten up in the pursuit of coupling. The author notes the “girls” boyfriends and romantic ups and downs as far back as elementary school.

I don’t have a romantic past that stretches back that far. I crushed on guys certainly as a girl and teen, but I was shy, very fat and too ambivalent about the whole thing for there to be much to talk about. College was pretty much the same. I thought, and I don’t think I was unique, that someone would just “find me”. See me walking or in class or dancing in a club and know that I was the one for them. I hung hopefully on the edges and, of course, nothing happened. The few times I stepped up and laid my cards on the table – I was rejected – which is ironic when you consider that by stating my feelings and intentions openly I wound up married – twice. I was ahead of my time, I suppose.

One of the women in the book, Karla, was married and divorced with a baby in her mid-twenties when she met her second husband. It was one of those “just sorta knew” relationships. The other women in the book hold her relationship up as the ideal. It certainly is a meeting of partners where each one is more concerned about the other than themselves and see downs times as just as normal and necessary to a relationship as up times. Ebb and flow. If you can’t float a boat on both, failure is a given.

Two things that dovetailed this morning, one was an FB status update about Camp Widow. Some of my FB friends belong to a bereavement group that holds yearly “conventions” to deal with widow issues. Two of their speakers, according to the update, will be talking about the “how” of recoupling. There is a “how”? Specifically? Hmmm.  And I read a widow grog that seems to be mostly about dealing/rebuilding and much of what the bloggers there write about are the disappointments and challenges of rebuilding. The post today dealt with the anger and frustration of dating again. Mostly about comparing. I am probably just revealing my too practical side here, but why compare at all? Or make lists?

One of the girls in the book divorced in the last five years and is searching for the kind of marriage that Karla and the others seem to have. Operative word being “seem” and has a list, comparison dates/shops. But how can you find someone when you after assessed yourself and let go of who you were?

That’s key to moving on and new love, isn’t it?

I didn’t compare Rob to Will. Even if there had been a basis for doing so, I made up my mind to put Will and our relationship in the past. Nothing good would come of my trying to recreate that time or using my old self as a basis for future happiness.

There is the sutra argument that our true selves are eternal. Regardless of our current perceptions of who we are, which is based largely on the world around us, we are always us deep down. It’s necessary then to not rely over much on past actions, relationships, and such, as touchstones. The past has limited use in determining present day direction.

I knew long before Will died that I needed to be married again. I felt unfinished in a way that transcends the ability to put the feeling to proper words. There was someone out there and I was meant to love again. So when the time came, I put Will in his place in my past and I left him there. He had no purpose in my future. He was done, another piece of my foundation.

One of the things I loved about Karla’s story was the way her second husband, Bruce, totally embraced being her daughter’s father. I am puzzled by people who don’t dive in as a parent or people who refuse to allow their new spouses to be parents. Like a child can have too much parental support and love? My own opinion is that a potential spouse who can’t love your child isn’t a good pick and that children aren’t mature enough, or have the ability to see past their self-centeredness to know what is best for them sometimes. Loving a person with children means committing to parenting too. Otherwise, forget it.

All the talk – on blogs and talk shows and in books – about the need to be single, find yourself, learn to be you, blah, blah, blah – is directly contradicted by the fact that we spend most of our lives searching for love, maintaining/nurturing love and lamenting/longing for it when it ends. I don’t think this is a dysfunction. It is human. Alone is not the norm though it certainly can be unavoidable given the way society works anymore.

I identified with the girls in the book who felt there was something wrong with them as teens and twenty-somethings searching, putting their hearts out there and being rejected. I know better now. There is nothing wrong with me. I was being me and the rejection wasn’t personal really. It was steering me – too slowly it felt like – to where I was meant to be. We can be so impatient. We think we are ready and we’re not, or we think we need someone who is merely a want. Needs and wants stubbornly don’t match up a lot because our true selves are hard-hearted on our behalf.

I totally believe that we choose our destinies for whatever reason yet to be revealed and that it’s the human imposed perception of time that keeps us from realizing that we have so much more time in the larger scheme of things. Even if I live to be 110, the years are a blip in terms of my true self’s existence. The time I have spent on this plane with Will and Rob is just a drop in the bucket of the time our souls know each other, and we must carry little bits of each other around or else how would we know each other again?

Forgive the rambling. I am in the throes of yet another allergy attack. Two nights in a row. It appears I am allergic to cleaning solvents which is going to make cleaning a challenge and avoiding them in the world a priority – though how I am going to manage, I haven’t quite worked out yet.

I would love to hear your thoughts on the whole love and relationship thing. Without them, do we have lives at all really?

3 responses to “Coupling

  1. Hmm, I hardly consider myself without a life because I’m not coupled! Quite the opposite, actually. Instead of obsessing about some man, I’m thinking about what I want and need and how to fulfill my own destiny, and I’m also concentrating on motherhood. At times, I wonder how anyone actually puts up with a spouse because I cherish my alone time!
    Coupling is not for everyone. Bella DePaulo just wrote an excellent piece about exploring the concept of being single at heart. I found that it most definitely applied to me: http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/living-single/201003/are-you-single-heart

  2. this is a well-considered essay – on something that we all think about. i’ve seen wonderful couples and i’ve seen horrible couples, and everything in between… i’ve been in good and bad relationships, and have generally grown in some way from both kinds…

    based on the reactions i get – mostly from women – when i explain where i am at the moment, i am certainly six-sigma in my current ‘position’. but i try to remind people that it’s for me. for now. not that i am prescribing it for all others…

    so that’s just it – there IS no one path toward couplehood or singlehood. knowing what you want and need is the key, and being able to effectively articulate that positoin is all you can do…

    from the outside? my situation is threatening to many women (i am involved with 3 gents, all of them know there are others, and are – at least for now – comfortable with the lack of exclusivity). this is apparently unfathomable to many women. i have generally learned to keep this to myself in conversation.

    my wants and needs. resonably fulfilled. for now. i’m not confused.

    • Key is not confusing want with need and be willing to admit when you are not where you want to be. I see too many – women mostly – who are single and trying to convince others that it’s fine with them or who are paired and clearly would rather not be so burdened. And I think we can cycle back and forth between the states. Wherever one is at, it should be for them and the rest of the world should keep its mouth closed.

      I think women who are threatened have internal issues and/or shaky relationships.

      And you are among the handful of non-confused people I know.

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