Fighting my tired eyes, I promised myself I’d read one more chapter of the book I’m trying to finish before going to bed a few nights ago. And then I came upon this passage: “In October 1969, I met Regina Ann Walsh, Genie, object of thirty-seven years of passion and devotion . . . hippie princess, the most beautiful girl I have ever seen, my final and best defense against meaninglessness, my other eyes, this woman, this girl, this goddess, ineffably patient, screaming warrior who won’t-take-shit-past-a-certain-point, absolute center of the universe, oasis of calm, she who does the taxes.”
Suddenly, my eyes weren’t so very tired. Thanks, Frank Schaeffer.
I read on, “I was in love from that moment, was from the minute she opened the door, really, really in love or in something, in delirious, in a state where my brain stopped working and some prophetic instinct took over . . . And all the other girls, those shadow women, those posers, pretenders, just faded away . . .”
I have a friend who calls me a Midwestern cynic. He is probably right. But the words I read after midnight touched this cynic.
I am lucky to have good friends that love me. Of those that love me, many want to see me marry again. That would be nice. After my divorce, I would have told you that was a priority.
Now, not so much.
I get emails featuring seminars on dating over a certain age and finding your “dream man.” And maybe this makes me an odd duck, but my eyes wander to the advertisement for the wine tasting seminar at the bottom of the email, which sounds ever so much more lovely. The dating seminar sounds like one level of hell—a room full of women who are “hunting” for a man. I want to ask them what else they could be doing and why they are not. I want to tell them to sneak down to the wine tasting two floors down because it’ll be a lot more fun.
In addition to my sweet, well-meaning friends, I meet people all the time who assume because I am a divorced woman, I want the whole enchilada a second time. And by the whole enchilada, they mean a man, a marriage, all the responsibilities coming from such.
I have to tell them: “Now? Not so much.”
This position is interpreted as a hard line—an odd line—in a society in which the children in my neighborhood are still stymied that I work from home, supporting a family, in much the way their fathers do from an out-of-home office. They are unused to a woman holding that role.
But it is not such a hard line, really. I love love just as much as the next girl. But perhaps I bring a savvy the next girl didn’t have a few decades ago when she married. At the risk of being deleted from the invitation list for every cocktail party and barbecue in the foreseeable future: I don’t see much to want when I look at the situations of many married women my age.
I see a loss of power—and thus, choice– because they are not an equal financial partner.
I see men with wandering eyes who want to recapture their youth.
I see settling because they are not sure what else to do.
So, you can see why my eyes brightened at the book passage. The writer’s marriage is far from perfect, if the rest of the book is to be believed. But man, does he love. And more importantly, he loves over time.
I know a few couples who have something I admire. I can’t say if it’s chemistry, hard work or just plain luck—but they’ve grown together over time. They seem to recognize what they have in the other. And I wish them decades more of happiness.
But as for me–I come to love now, much as I did a few decades ago, able to support myself. Now, I also come a bit world weary. I come with children and a dog—and “complications” resulting from my divorce. You’ll have to fall in love with all of it, sir. Because it’s just my life and that makes sense.
For the most part, I enjoy my day to day. I wish I had more of my crazy family around me—that bit I miss—but I like what I do. I like my freedom. I am happy in my situation.
So when my friends ask or nudge, I think I will point them to my new favorite book passage and say: “I want a love like that.” And it may or may not involve marriage. Commitment? Yes. The rest of it? Well, I am a woman with choices. I’ll probably exercise them as best I see fit at the time.
All things considered, I do not understand settling for less in a life that is already a hard-won journey.
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I think anyone who’s gotten divorced and carved out a strong independent life is justifiably proud of that — and doubly wary of losing that to a second husband (or wife.)
A fantastic book on this is Abigail Trafford’s 2nd book — her first, Crazy Time, is the only book I keep recommending to anyone getting divorced. Then she later re-married and she so wisely and sensitively discusses how that is yet another major transition — as it means relinquishing that hard-won and cherished independence to once more become inter-dependent.
I am very happy with my 2nd marriage (17 yrs together, 7 years married) but it did take some major adjusting to allow that intimacy and dependence again.
He’s out there for you. 🙂
I read Crazy Time! Will have to check out her second book. As usual, your words ring true. Renegotiating what for me is fierce independence is a tough concept. And yet, I love to hear of your 17 years:). That’s a happy ending . . .
That book is a life-saver. It sure was for me. And I found it brilliant and feminist that she sees that it’s yet another renunciation to give up that divorcee’s independence (even if we never wanted it!) and have to trust again….which you do have to do to re-marry.
Jose and I fought for years until we realized we had a very good thing — re-marrying later in life isn’t easy but you are VERY aware what you want and what you will never again tolerate. That clarity has really strengthened my second marriage — and I am sure it will for you as well.
I love that two strong souls were able to come together and work it out. That doesn’t happen often enough :-).
It took a lot of work, couples therapy and finally realizing the great value we add to one another — it was not easy. But we’re stupidly happy and I am glad we did not give up on one another.
Just because it takes some frank self-examination and mutual negotiation doesn’t mean it’s the wrong person.
It is always good to see your smiling face love!
Well thank you!!😊😊
Great final line. Sums up your position elegantly.
I wonder how attraction works. I remain drawn to my wife, and the feeling of interconnection grows. I sometimes ask her what she did to me 34 years ago when we met. What kind of spell did she put us under? She smiles mysteriously and says nothing.
A lot of wisdom in that silence:). And I love that you’re still going strong! I believe in that kind of love.
I’m not sure what else to say about this but that I absolutely love it. I’m going on 45 and in the process of a divorce after 22 years of marriage. This really sums up my thoughts at this stage, though I’m still in the scary stage of never having had to support myself and kids and now suddenly needing to find a way to do it. But I am determined to do it and as hard as this all is, I’m liking the freedom I’m finding. Love your words.
The other side of hard is freedom. If you’ve already figured that out, you’re on your way to being just fine:). I am familiar with that scary part. And even when you are supporting your kids, I’m not sure it ever goes away. At least not for me. I try to trust, love, and breathe :-). Wishing you only the best!
I always think of that line “we attract the love we think we deserve” So true we are mirrors in life drawing in our reflection in others. All I need to do is keep polishing and refining my mirror daily, so it’s clear for others to see what I need. Here’s to attracting in your perfect match 💕
I love that line of thinking and yet it is so contrary to how most of us are taught to attract. I am hoping that changes as more of us become enlightened in this area :-).
I can see why this passage struck a powerful chord. Honest, and resonant. I wonder fi my wife would say something similar about me several years down the road…
And it sounds like you’ve found your sweet spot in life for now Kristine. Congratulations, you’ve joined the elite (and rare?) ranks of people who are comfortable in their own skins, but are still willing to welcome the right person into their lives.
Thank you, Gabe. You’re always so thoughtful in your comments. “Rare” is right! All too rare. I feel like this should be something we evolved into years ago, as a society. And I think we’d end up with better relationships if it was the norm, rather than the rare bird who is comfortable with it . . .
heheheh you make it easy to contribute meaningful comments Kristine. I’ve heard that it’s a writers gift to help draw their readers in. You’ve got it (and I friggin WANT IT! 😉 )
I went into my first marriage totally unaware of what I needed and entered my second with more self-awareness. The first marriage had many moments of happiness and fun but was tumultuous and ultimately ended in divorce. The second has been calmer, easier, more supportive and friendly. But still, there is compromise. And I sometimes feel I compromise more. But, then, perhaps he feels the same.
I think we all feel that sometimes we compromise more, right? But then we hope it balances out in the end–and need someone equally as self aware on the other side of the marriage. Funny–we’re taught life skills of all sorts, but not how to navigate a relationship.
I’m not sure that pairing for life was ever a good idea, yet the convention persists. We are happy for young couples who get wed, but know that many marriages will struggle to survive. I’ve found that I’ve never been more content than these days, single and able to live without compromising with another. I suspect those that look suspiciously at you as somehow ‘out of line’ Kristine are secretly envious.
PS – has that parrot <<< just killed the other one 🙂
Roy!! That is a parrot embrace, silly:). Wasn’t it Katharine Hepburn who said something about men and women being fine companions as long as they just live next-door to each other? 😉
My first marriage was awful; emotionally abusive. My second marriage is wonderful, but it wasn’t always so. We worked through some rough patches.
This month we celebrate 7 years of marriage and we have been together for 11. We started out as friends, we are now best friends. We aren’t perfect, but we are pretty darn happy. It took a lot of work in the beginning and a lot of compromising throughout the years, but it is possible. I feel so grateful. 🙂 I am also a woman who spent several years not being in a relationship. I am so independent and headstrong. We are all worthy of love and belonging and I so hope that when the time is right, you will find someone worthy of you.
That sounds like quite a journey. I’m glad it’s brought you to a happy place. I do believe he is out there. I just don’t believe life doesn’t begin until I meet him:). Sounds like you feel the same!
I am so glad to read your words–I look at the women around me who are married and I don’t want what any of them have. I know of exactly 1 marriage that I think may be healthy for the woman (and this is a couple in their 80s), and everything else I see is unenviable. I do miss sex though…sex was nice.
I think as women are taught to be self sufficient from a young age, more will hold out for healthy relationships. At least I hope so. And “nice” is an understatement. lol:)
I found myself nodding in agreement while reading. So well said.
And wine over boys always;)
Thank you, friend:). Wine over boys is a good way to put it! A good name for a yacht:)
Oh there’s so much here to relate to here (and in the comments). Miraculously, I have recently found a man who loves me like that…but after 10 years living alone, I’m struggling with his need to be with me every available moment. I don’t mind solitude, and need alone time; he doesn’t seem to need it, although he has also lived alone for a few years. How I’d love to sit over a wine with you (yes, I guffawed at that bit too) and talk about love and life and the whole darned catastrophe! One day we will, I’m sure of it.
Oh, Lee, I’m so happy for you! But I understand your struggling with that. I dated a couple of men who wanted to be together so much of the time. And, being a creative type like you (as well as a mother with responsibilities), I had to be clear on my needs. I hope you find a balance! And yes, I can’t wait for that in-person conversation over wine. We may have to try Skype in the meantime:).
46 years married and I so get your point.
“A love like that” is truly a precious commodity . . .
Stay with your journey. You are an inspiration.
I read this bit…’but my eyes wander to the advertisement for the wine tasting seminar at the bottom of the email’ ..and have only just now got up off the floor from laughing so hard I couldn’t see from the tears. I related to it so well.
Oh Kristine, ye ‘witch’ of wiley words! Expressed so beautifully 😀
A little story…if I may. We always reflect where we are at. And while ever we don’t love ourselves fully, we will always try to find that love in another. And as you get closer and closer to that unconditional love within, you will no longer need that ‘condition’ of loving another (hence the urge of ‘wine tasting’ 🙂 ). You will just give out and attract an unconditional love. Our ‘need’ to be with another is removed, and then we will attract for all the right reasons and not from our ‘fears’.
With one thing that we must be aware…we will block that need because of the pain that we feel is within it…and convince ourselves that we no longer need it unless it ‘fits’ some list of conditions.
The important bit is ‘knowing’ the difference. (And I’m not pointing any fingers here, it is something we all do as we go through life. Shoot, I blocked like a bulldozer for a long, long time 🙂 )
Thank you for that incredible read, I think the tears have gone now….just 😀
I am glad to have giving you the laugh :-). Offer me wine over a man-hunting seminar and I think you know which one I would choose any day of the week!
Much, much easier Kristine…even on your heart the wine will be a much smoother passage! 😀
Enjoy your life, find that inner love, and then ‘he’ will find you ❤
I LOVE living by myself (well, with a teenager half the time). I’ve lived with 6 different lovers between my first at age 19, & my last at age 45. I’m done. I want Love- a love exactly like that passage you quote- but I’m done with domestic cohabitation. And of course, to receive a love like that one, we have to offer it….. ❤
Wise words on the being able to offer it bit. And to be able to offer a love like that, you have to live a full life. Which means doing everything but chasing love :-).
Exactly! Geez, we’re so smart now we’re older aren’t we? ; )
You deserve a love like that and the ability to choose how you want to express it 🙂
Thank you:). I do hope it’s out there.
You go girl! You have the right attitude!
Thanks, friend! XXOO
We all want someone to talk about us like that. Beautiful.
Isn’t it the truth?!
Fabulous. 😊 As a nearly divorced woman, I absolutely get what you mean.
I do not doubt it:). Some women get it without the divorce bit, but for most of us it is a hard-earned truth.