Sometimes it’s hard to be married, even harder to be happily married. And not because being with the same person year after year gets monotonous or stale at times, because it does….and that’s okay. After several years together, you learn to accept that even though the new car smell is gone, it still runs fine! No, what can make it hard is that sometimes, as a long-time married couple, you almost cease to exist in a world where everything has an expiration date.
Over the past holiday season, we hosted an annual gathering of friends and neighbors. As always, most conversations took place as people gathered in the kitchen and adjacent dining area. As I worked my way through, I caught bits of conversation here and there, familiar with all the stories. We are a 50-something’s bunch that have travelled together for many years; through the vineyards of Tuscany, the hills of Ireland, the castles of Spain, the glaciers of Alaska, etc. It is a group I cherish. But as I think back, there are very few trips with the same cast of characters.
Divorce and separations have altered the “group” pictures throughout the years. The women are a constant – our dynamics are female driven, so we choose who gets to stay in the group after a breakup, and it is never the men. Our numbers vary, ranging from 10 to 18 strong, depending upon where we are going and personal availability. But there is one number that stays the same. Only three of us are with our original partners. Now, math is not my strong suit, but even I can see that the odds against a sustainable marriage are huge.
So as we gather around kitchen, restaurant, dining room or patio tables now, (yes, there is always food…and drink), a lot of our conversations surrounds, who is in a new relationship, what is the best online dating site for women of a certain age, the possibility of a singles cruise (I’m out). And quite honestly, it is sometimes exciting to vicariously live through tantalizing details of the new relationships of our friends. But recently I heard….”we have only been out four times, what should I do about Valentine’s Day?”
Valentine’s Day. Now there is a subject I can speak to. I have gone through 45 years of “Valentines Days”, 38 of them married, to my current husband (actually, my only husband but current seems to be the adjective that now describes relationships.). He is my original travel partner. And since these days, I don’t always feel that I have a lot to contribute to conversations that I often stay on the edge of; I am coming out of the shadows to address this one!
Because I don’t think that Valentine’s Day is only for those “new” relationships where lust is confused with love. I think it’s especially for those of us who go through each day as travel companions; the ordinary days, the extraordinary days, the days where you can’t stand the sight of each other, countered by the days where a familiar but unexpected gesture can make you feel love so strong it takes your breath in a gasp.
It is for those of us who could walk into a Hallmark shop blindfolded, pick up any card and know that whatever it says inside will apply. It is for those of us who don’t use Valentine’s Day to celebrate a relationship, but rather as a gentle reminder of what we already have. So, to my friends, who are also the loves of my life, if you any have questions on how to handle February 14th, ask me. I’ve got this!