A recent cartoon in The New Yorker led me to thoughts of marriage, or more specifically, to contemplate whether it's the right option for me. In the cartoon, a husband and wife sit in separate chairs, holding magazines. The wife, with an angry look, barks at her husband, "If it’s all random, why are you always here?"
I've been divorced for seven years and at this moment, marriage or a long-term relationship does not appear to be on the horizon. And I'm not sure I want it anymore. The thought of being with someone 24/7 is daunting. I've been in two post-divorce relationships; one was a live-in situation that lasted almost three years. We could easily have been that couple in the cartoon.
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Over the years I've spent many hours and more than a few dollars searching for Mr. Right. Nice men have been met and awkward meals have been shared. I've turned down the opportunity to have sex with a relative stranger and had a beer with a man who was later convicted for the attempted murder of his ex-wife. It has left me, understandably, rather jaded.
Just yesterday I wrote a tongue-in-cheek article on the kind of wedding dress a 57-year-old divorcee might choose for her second wedding. And I've given voice to my fears of ending up alone. So, why the sudden shift in thinking? It's partly Arnold's fault. Maria Shriver joins the long list of betrayed wives we've seen in the last year or so on the nightly news: Sandra Bullock, Tiger Woods' spouse Elin Nordegren, Mrs. Eliot Spitzer, the wife of Gov. Mark Sanford, and on and on. Relationships get stale, deception creeps in and people cheat. There is no guarantee, is there? Why would I want to open myself up to heartbreak and discord?
Most of the time, I'm comfortable with my life as a single woman. My first marriage ended unhappily, and there are no guarantees that a second try would be any more successful. Actually, the chances are significantly better. Age does have its benefits. Today—35 years after my first marriage—I have a better understanding of what it takes to make a good relationship and what I want in a partner. Wisdom, life experiences, and therapy! Today, I only have to contemplate a partnership if I truly want one; in 1976 it felt like an imperative.
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