Dear Readers: Yes, this column is a rerun. But because the concept (and the reality) is very much on our minds today (and rightfully so), it deserves another go-around. So here's the letter as it was written, and your reactions are mightily welcome. (For obvious reasons, the writer's name is omitted.) She's a thoughtful reader whose musings may or may not resonate with yours, but please give it another read.
"I've been lucky enough to have shared some personally productive relationships since my marriage ended two years ago. Right now I'm dating a lovely man who has the strength of character to be himself with me, and we're having a wonderful time. But as much as I like him, I still cannot imagine any other person, however beloved, in my space, in my finances or in my material assets. Maybe this will change. The relationship is a young one, and there is far to go — emotionally and practically. But for now, perhaps I'm just not ready to remarry, as I still may equate 'marriage' with what I had with my ex-husband, something that fails. However rationally, I know that if I find someone with whom my goals, visions and values align, he and I together will establish our own unique marital relationship.
"But feelings (should I call them 'gut-wrenching reactions'?) aren't necessarily rational. The idea of giving someone else access not only to my heart but also to my home, my assets and my future — my emotional and financial independence — remains beyond me. Marriage is so much more than loving each other. It exists on a multitude of often-unromantic levels that can tax even the strongest love. And should that love disappear, so can so much more ... like emotional and financial independence ... at least for a while.
"So it makes sense to me that couples who care deeply about each other might not want to share that multitude of "unromance" with their significant other. They might want to save the best of life to celebrate when they're together, leaving bitter unrealities for the privacy of alone time. Perhaps one or both feel unprepared for marriage, or perhaps economic factors come into play. But if people are at heart satisfied with where they are in their relationship, and with where their relationship seems to be going, then who are we to criticize?
"I care about the man in my life, and I care about myself, too. By being myself and supporting him in being himself, perhaps we shall learn and grow in ourselves and as a couple — and, in doing so, perhaps someday discover we've created something greater than each of us, something big enough to shelter us from the 'unromantic' and strong enough to sustain us should love ebb and flow."
Even after several readings, this letter got my little gray cells moving. And yours?
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