Looking out at the timelessness of the Montana landscape, the majestic mountains and the massive clouds that dominated the infinite sky, I couldn’t help but think of love. After all, my husband and I had just celebrated our 7th and 44th wedding anniversaries. And of course, the retrospective view from this age allows me to assess my life –and my loves–more fully.
Here’s what I concluded: on the whole, I’ve been lucky in love.
What, you’re surprised? Because I’m divorced a few times?
Yeah, well, here’s how it worked for me:
My decisions in the romance category weren’t always, well, the wisest. Or the most practical. But one thing I can say for sure is that each romance taught me a little something. Or a big something.
Still, I’ve loved some wonderful men and they’ve loved me back. Sometimes that love me back thing was more than I loved them and sometimes I loved them in a different way than they loved me.
Sometimes they weren’t worthy of MY love, even if they loved ME. Can you relate?
(I was always worthy of THEIR love though, right? Well, maybe not always. Yes, that’s a joke.)
And whether it was for a reason or a season or, as it turns out now, a lifetime, I’ve been lucky in love. But I don’t look at love the same way some others might.
My second and third husbands were there for a reason. One was the knight in shining armor who swept me off my feet, out of my sadness over my first divorce and loved me back to life. I appreciate what he did for me even if I didn’t appreciate the way that relationship went south. I’m good with its ending, though: I was never meant to stay. Sometimes divorce is not such a bad thing: it’s the only thing.
I was single a long time after that, and then my third husband appeared, again for a reason. I can’t thank him enough for what he gave me during our long season together, even if I couldn’t love him in the way he deserved to be loved. He was my teacher in many important ways and I look back on our years with only happy memories. Sometimes, relationships run their course. No one teaches us that because it doesn’t fit the fairy tale idea of romance. But it’s true. We just have to have the courage to admit it.
And of course, there was my inamorata, who proposed at the Trevi Fountain in Rome — something every woman should have happen to her. We weren’t meant for forever, but the gift of love he brought was beautiful. And fleeting. Some relationships are like comets that appear suddenly out of nowhere in a big flash and then burn out. And that’s ok.
Then there’s M, my lifetime love. Not so traditional, either, since we took a 26-year break. But I’m good with that, too. We married so young that it’s unlikely we would have had the staying power to make it all the way through. But what a joy to have it now, in the autumn of our lives.
Relationships are hard. They really are. As songwriter Dan Fogelberg once sang, “It’s never easy and it’s never clear/who’s to navigate and who’s to steer/So you flounder drifting ever near/the rocks.” I think that lyric has more truth in it that a thousand June/moon/swoon lyrics. The traditional view of love and relationships is, well, unrealistic, for the most part. That’s what I think, anyway.
But then, I’ve never been all that “traditional” — in love or in anything, really.
I didn’t set out to be different, but my point of view on most things has never aligned with convention. Just like other Baby Boomers, I was infused with the traditional family messages in TV shows like Father Knows Best and Leave it to Beaver and others of the era. But how well did that work for us? Or more importantly, for THEM?
It’s inevitable, though, that we Boomers would feel a pull toward that traditional model that we grew up with. I felt it, too. Still do, sometimes. But the fact is that I’ve never really liked being tied down in any way.
Relationships come with a lot of “shoulds” and many don’t match the reality of two disparate individuals trying to live together 24/7.
So as I look back over my 65 years, I see that my way of dealing with that reality worked for me. It might not work for you, but it worked for me.
If you’re older now, and thinking about relationships, I’d encourage you to REALLY think. To not buy into something that doesn’t work just because you think you “should.”
I’m interested in your approach to relationships…feel free to just riff on the subject. Like I just did. Because what’s in your head is, well, fascinating to me. Just is. All the different ways we think and process love. So thanks!