Watching the Sun Rise, Alone But Not
Copyrighted by Lorna Tedder. Originally published in Life in the Third Degree.
It’s four o’clock in the morning, and I’m talking about marriage with a man I don’t intend to marry. There’s no involvement between us other than friendship, just a need to discuss our demons from the safety of our separate homes and the distance of a telephone line spanning the miles. As for our relationship, on this night it stays in the moment, with that moment lasting from a star-filled night to the bright sunshine of day. And for me right now, to have this little and yet this much from any man is enough. It’s more than I’ve had in a long time.
The stereotype in the dating world is still that of the single mom looking for a husband and father for her kids. Rather the opposite of my agenda. I’m surprised to find how many men in my target age range of 32 to 47 are looking for a wife.
Not that it really matters who that wife is. Just find a woman and check the box; task complete.
My divorce has been final for two months and I’ve met enough men desperate to re-marry that I could have been down the aisle again at least twice.
It astonishes me that a man would have serious thoughts of marriage running through his head before the third date, before sleeping with his prospective wife, before introducing her to his children, before meeting her parents. All so quickly! The last thing I want to be is a square-filler.
But I’ve been thinking about whether I would ever marry again, and I’m verbalizing my feelings to a fellow insomniac who feels the same way about the needlessness of a marriage certificate. Talking with someone who thinks like I do is a rarity, so I’m enjoying this exploration. He suggests that we both must have some idea of re-marriage in the distant future or we wouldn’t have “requirements” in mind for a mate. I concede, but my five non-negotiables apply as well to any important friendship in my life though not quite as strictly. And I want any potential mate to be a close friend first.
But what does marriage do for a woman at my stage of life? A self-sufficient woman with no plans to procreate again?
In spite of the divorce rate, I think all of us—both men and women—still find security in the idea of marriage. We think that if the relationship moves to commitment, then that commitment should become marriage and marriage means forever. The relationship thus “ends” in marriage.
Marriage is the security blanket that helps us to believe that once we say “I do,” the other person must stick around. It keeps them from cheating on us or abusing us. It forces them to love us, for better or for worse.
But it’s an illusion. A mate doesn’t honor, love, and respect just because your have a piece of paper that licenses you to be partners in the business of marriage or because you wear a gold band that advertises your status as chattel. A mate does these things because there’s a commitment between two people, but the commitment can end long before a divorce court renders a legal merger over and done. Or a commitment can last forever or until it just simply no longer is there.
Will I marry again, ever? I don’t know. Will I ever again make a commitment? I think so. But I’d rather sleep alone than have the illusion of marriage without having the reality of the commitment of both hearts.