It’s fascinating to me that the Transition Times blog post that has gotten the most attention, by far, is “There’s more to love than Cupid and his arrows,” my Valentine’s Day 2012 post, which has been read hundreds of times since February 14.
Of course, people are always interested in love and romance. And this is a positive, peaceful essay about being very thankful for the love I have in my life through my parents and children, to the point where I’m not missing romantic engagement.
Truly, I’m not.
There has been a spate of articles lately about so-called “singletons,” men and women who choose to remain happily single.
Some of the articles fret that such people may have troubles as they age, since they have no companions to help care for them. A recent New York Times Room for Debate series, “Being Alone Together,” explored both sides of the issue, with many of the writers arguing that solitude has significant benefits.
I am not living alone; I am living with my two teenage sons at the moment. I have to say that I do enjoy the rare times when I have the house to myself, and have no one but myself to please.
When I was in my early twenties, before I married, I lived on my own in Greenwich Village while I studied as a graduate student at NYU. Although I had never felt confined or fettered while I lived with my parents, the freedom of living alone was fantastic, as was the convenience of living so close to the NYU campus and the stimulation of the Village.
But nevertheless, during those years I felt a tremendous pressure to marry, to have children—to paraphrase Mrs. Ramsay in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse.
Did it come straight from my ovaries?
It wasn’t like my parents were pushing me at all. But I felt a kind of insecurity about being single, like I was lacking or missing something. I was incomplete.
In those days, the 1980s, there was a lot of talk about how if you didn’t find a mate in your twenties or early thirties, you’d be over the hill and never find one. Believe it or not! Stories of unhappy women in their forties abounded—women who had never been married, and were totally, miserably fixated on finding the ever-elusive Mr. Right.
Although I was living alone and perfectly content with my life, I still felt like it was temporary, and I’d better be constantly on the look-out for the man who would come along to complete me and open the door to my real adult life, which could only begin with those wedding vows.
Now, on the other side of two decades of marriage and a divorce, I am once again single and enjoying the freedom, this time without that little Cupidlike imp sitting on my shoulder warning me that I’d better focus on love and get myself hitched.
I have young friends getting married now and of course I wish them much happiness and fervently hope that they will be better marriage partners than my ex and I were for each other.
But I have to say, from my current vantage point it seems rather miraculous that one’s chosen mate at age 25 could still be the perfect partner at age 50. What an amazing feat to grow together so harmoniously that you still complement and satisfy each other after so many years of married life.
I know it happens; I have witnessed it for myself with others.
I just suspect it’s the exception, not the norm.
I have no illusions about finding—or being–such an exceptional partner in the next chapter of my life.
And you know what? That’s just fine.