Really, why get married? There’s not a demand for it, socially, anymore. A couple can just live together for years upon years, have kids even, and never get married. And especially, if you’ve already been there, done that, had kids, built a life, wealth and so on, I mean, why bother?
I really liked being married, though. I liked having someone to work, play, talk, and eat with all of the time. This sentiment was expressed well in the movie Shall We Dance, with Richard Gere, Susan Sarandon and Jennifer Lopez. The character played by Sarandon hires an investigator because she thinks her husband, played by Gere, is having an affair. She asks the investigator, “Why do people get married?” He says, “passion”. She responds: “No, because we need a witness to our lives. There’s a billion people on the planet. I mean what does any one life really mean, but in a marriage you’re promising to care about everything, the good things, the bad things, the terrible things, the mundane things, all of it, all the time. Every day you’re saying your life will not go unnoticed because I will notice it, your life will not go unnoticed because I will be your witness.”
I liked having a witness to my life – my very best friend – and I really missed that when Hugh died.
So, what begins with passion, the Greek eros we discussed last week, after two weeks, or two months, or two years, or maybe, if you’re lucky two decades, usually settles into philia (deep friendship), storge (familial love), and pragma (longstanding love), hopefully with a bit of ludus (playful love) thrown in. In the beginning, you look at that person, your love, and fairy dust is sprinkled all around and you can’t ever imagine your beloved ever doing or saying anything that would remotely upset you. Then one day, he/she picks at her teeth or her underwear in an unpleasant way and poof. Just like that. The magic is gone and the witness is born.
But, there’s more. B and I are getting really tired of calling each other boyfriend and girlfriend – surely we’re too damn old for this? Can we not invent a better word? Partner gets confused, with business, or even alternative lifestyles, not that there’s anything wrong with that. Lover is TMI. Better half? Is this the best we can come up with?
Marrying at fiftysomething is quite different than marrying at twentysomething. I’ve been thinking a lot about my younger self, as B and I did a Canadian commitment ceremony for my family here this past weekend prior to our wedding in Florida next week. I remember waking up in my family home on the morning of my first wedding, nervous and excited. I was pretty disorganized back then. It didn’t bother me one bit, living messily, and I’m pretty sure today’s me would not get along with that person. My lack of organization meant that I didn’t worry about what could go wrong at my wedding because I wasn’t organized enough to extrapolate out. I’m fairly organized these days, with plans in place well ahead of time and a vision about how I want things to go. The difference is I’ve had enough experience to know things will go wrong (sh*t happens!), so you must go with the flow. I suppose the result is much the same, but the environment from which it originates is more aesthetically pleasing.
At twenty, my partnership with Hugh was about building everything: home, businesses, children. It was a dream of family: our family. Since, for B and I, that’s all behind us, what is the dream of the marriage of B and Rita?
It’s more than a title. More than a witness. It’s really a matter of commitment. I guess, what we expect to get out of it, as well as put into it, is essentially the same as any successful long-lasting relationship, minus the joint kids and bank account. Love. Respect. Understanding. A sense of home.
And we have similar goals, me and B. Continuous improvement. The whole mind, body and soul thing. He measures his results with spreadsheets, a hazard of being a recovering accountant. I measure mine with shelves full of journals, written in cursive, destined to become obsolete real soon.
I would starve without B. He would run out of clean clothes without me.
Since we did survive for more than four decades without one another, we know that’s a lie. It sure is fun to have someone to work, play, talk and eat with all of the time again. The partnership continues. Why not get married?
Photo credit Jennifer Raymer.