Tuesday, 24 April 2012

Is Marriage Meant To Last?

Hi Babs

A work colleague came round for coffee this morning.  I say work colleague, which she is, but we have become friends since working together, and occasionally meet outside of work.  I had noticed she wasn’t herself when we were in the office together last week, and this was our first chance to speak on our own.
I had anticipated correctly.  She announced almost immediately that she had been to see a solicitor about a divorce, as her husband was seeing somebody else.  This turned out to be an ex-girlfriend he met at a school reunion ten years ago.  My friend, let’s call her Sarah, had discovered they saw each other on three previous occasions, and each time her husband said he would stop seeing the ex.  This was the fourth and final time Sarah had caught him in contact with her.

Her choice to tell me is interesting, insofar as she knows I am in a similar situation.  Prior to marriage nearly twenty years ago, I lived with someone who just couldn’t quite commit to settling down.  We went our separate ways, lost touch, and then, out of the blue, he contacted me using Facebook (yes, I know we have all heard the stories), and three months of emailing ended in us meeting.
Suffice to say, the meeting led to six months of very intense emotion where we both realised what a huge opportunity had been missed.  That time was dominated for me by counting the days & hours until I saw him again. 

We are both married, both have children, and whilst we know we would be together without these commitments, we have both had to face up to the fact that too many people would be hurt if we were to break families up.  We now meet several times a year for lunch or dinner, and chat on email and skype.  The initial ardour has cooled.  I can now maintain a normal existence, stopping to consider where he might be or what he might be doing, but no longer experiencing that toxic emotion from before.
So, is what we are doing wrong?  We do not sleep together but we know we find each other attractive, and probably would given half the chance.  We acknowledge we have other commitments, and also that if our respective spouses knew we were meeting they would be hurt.  At the moment, we do not feel like stopping, but it is not making either of us want to walk away from our marriages either.

I guess the day’s meeting has got me thinking about things.  Is enduring love something that happens in films rather than real life?  Should marriage be on a ten year renewable lease to make everyone try harder?  In times gone by, we didn’t live as long so weren’t married for so many years. 
Or are we drawn to our past?  Is it the life we led at that time we are harking after, or the people?  One often hears in the press about a couple who were childhood sweethearts, go off and have different lives, and then meet when they are much older and fall in love again.  Is there a comfort in that?  I know firstly, friends reunited and then facebook have been blamed for many of these liaisons but school reunions have been going on forever.  It is just so much easier to make these connections again using the internet.
So what do you think?  Is maintaining contact with someone who meant everything to you in your past a really big sin, whilst standing by your commitments?



  1. Hi Veronica

    Thanks for being the first to contribute on let's chat. I want to stress my response is not about advice but my personal view on relationships.

    1) I think love can endure I'm not sure romantic love endures but there are things we can do to make sure our primary relationship fulfils our criteria?

    2) A renewable marriage licence? I've heard that one before but it seems to me a cynical response. I much prefer the idea of talking and the relationship evolving to meet the couples needs.  If not for them to be able to think it's ok to end it. I think we need to have a less pejorative response to divorce. If the differences are irreconcilable then it would be nice if the couple could separate without acrimony and or seeing it as failure? So instead I think divorce should be easier?

    3) I think it's true that committing to a lifelong relationship is different now but it seems to me it's about choice. My OH and I are due to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary in August. We love each other. Please note I have not said we're in love with each other. There have been difficult times and times where we both have felt that we could walk away but we haven't. I don't think that's because we are any stronger than any other couple but more that the choice has always been to stick it out. When you start at a relationship as I did at the age of 18 you don't stay the same. I've evolved and our relationship has evolved. 

    4) Are you drawn to your past? Maybe? I think it would be a good idea to write down just what you get out of this relationship that you don't get out of your marriage. If you both know that your partners would be hurt and there's a need for secrecy what does that say? 

    If you've read my blog you'll know I'm not really into telling people what to do. I really do think it's about choice even if we're not aware of it. My own position is that if as individuals we are not able to be honest then there's a problem? Please note I'm not advocating monogamy I'm saying there's a need to be congruent? 

  2. I think what you've done is quite beautiful.... I don't think there is an answer, its just the way life works out. Who knows where the two of you would be if you had married years ago...blissfully happy or otherwise..but the way in which both of you have put your families before your own personal desire is incredibly touching..... there are no answers...life works out in funny ways..... and very very glad to finally read something with a shred of intelligence , seriously thought provoking content x