Not everyone gets married in a fever hotter than a pepper sprout, as Johnny Cash so quaintly put it. Some people get married with a temperature no higher than 98.6. And sometimes not even with that. Does that mean they're settling?
ELAINE: Forty-five years ago I settled for someone I didn't love just to get married. I was on the rebound. I thought the love would develop over time.
I'm still married to the same man. We have four grown children who appear well-adjusted and normal. We get along as well as any other couple. But there is a void. I wouldn't recommend settling.
ILA: It's sometimes better for a woman to get married to have children and then get divorced rather than stay single. That is, if the kids turn out OK and treat her with respect and allow her to see her grandchildren often enough to bond with them. Old age without a significant other who treats you well, or children and adult grandchildren who are good to you, is not a fate I'd wish on anyone. But when it comes right down to it, it's all a crapshoot. Sometimes it's hard to tell the difference between what your heart's telling you and what your head's telling you.
NORENE: I had lots of boyfriends, but I was waiting for the grand passion. I think I was raised on too many novels like "Madame Bovary" and "Anna Karenina." I wanted to experience a love worth dying for like those women.
To make a long story short, I never felt that extreme passion for anyone who felt it for me. So, here I am, 74 years old and alone. I was a foolish girl who turned into a foolish woman, and by the time I wised up the good guys were gone. There were men around, but they weren't nearly as appealing as the men I had rejected. I wish I would have settled when what I was settling for was darn good!
ALICIA: I had a feeling I was making a huge mistake when I married Dave, but I ignored it. I was 25, he was 42, and I was pregnant. Neither of us had been married, and our biological clocks were ticking. We both wanted children and a family. We created that together.
I hadn't had much experience with men. Dave had dated and lived with quite a few women. But he lacked intimacy, which created a very deep longing in me. I was lonely and wanted someone to be intimate with, and that included sex.
By the time I was 45, we had two children, and I started having affairs. I was so inexperienced sexually when I married that I felt cheated. At one point we separated and I moved in with a boyfriend. I had a few years of fun before he left me for a younger woman. After that, I ran through a string of men and became very depressed, even suicidal.
I asked Dave whether I could come home, and he said yes. I'm now 55, and Dave is 72. We're best friends. I have no regrets. Many, many women, whether they're happily married or not, regret not having been free to express themselves sexually. At least I don't have that regret.
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