At the age of 50, when many people were either celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary or well into their second or third marriage, my girlfriends and I were buzzing about the disappointment of being single, facing another holiday season alone. For many of us, there was no discernible partner for the future. I was included in that group.
Then, in the middle of an internet dating blitz, I had an epiphany. Instead of looking hither and afar for the perfect guy, why not get married to myself!
I’d had disappointments; long spells of unhappy love affairs. The last of these was a resurrected relationship with my first love from Jr. High School. It was a deep and sincere romance, with all the underpinnings of real, true love. We promised we’d love each other forever. His family moved away after our sophomore year of high school. We lost touch and went on to have seven kids (with other people).
By the time we met again, we were each battered from our twenty-year marriages. Weary from life struggles, we vowed promises of simplicity and sweetness. Then, circumstances of distance, children and jobs got the better of us. It failed after hundreds of miles up and down the Taconic Parkway in New York State.
I was devastated. More than the end of another romance, our inability to resurrect our relationship represented the end of a ‘fairytale’. Lifelong dreams and hopes I’d secretly fostered were dashed. My heart snapped.
Our demise was sudden and unexpected. When I realized it was finally over, I found myself stepping outside to the back yard, with a box full of old love letters and a fistful of matches. Lighting up my backyard chimnea with scraps of dead branches, I read through all our sentimental vows and promises, and fed each one into the fire: weeping.
Sitting over the ashes of years of pent up desires, I tried to do an inventory. Two of my best friends were in the middle of their own heartache. One with a dysfunctional guy with a jail record and a shoe fetish, and the other with a physical therapist, who’d practiced a little too much therapy on women other than her – naked, I might add. These were ‘normal’ successful women, with good heads on their shoulders.
Three weeks before Christmas, I was asking myself the same question I’d been asking since I was a teenager. Who would my next boyfriend be?
Why is the world so screwed up? Why is this relationship thing so hard? I’m telling you that even though we might appear from time to time to look sane on the outside, I didn’t know one couple practicing healthy co-habitation once you got a good hard look around the inside of their home and psyche.
Were successful relationships just the one’s where people were open to doing the maximum amount of compromising?
I prepared a mental inventory of every couple I could think of, including friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and celebrities.
I came up with zilch. I couldn’t think of one couple on my entire list I was envious of. Mostly because I either knew them too well, or the illusion of happiness was so stoked in plastic surgery, I didn’t buy the sincerity of it for a minute.
The closest fantasy I came up with was Oprah Winfrey and Stedman Graham. Not that I trusted the image they portrayed, but at least she was powerful and he didn’t seem to mind. They appeared less than typical. He seemed to be playing the part of an equally strong, yet supportive partner. He looked good on her arm on the red carpet and they kind of magnified the kind of chemistry I longed for.
Coming from a more traditional marriage, I noticed, even after the divorce I continued to be attracted to guys with a more or less traditional view of male/female relationships. Inevitably, as we grew closer, his fantasies turned to getting me in the kitchen with an apron and a dishpan.
I knew this wasn’t going to work for me anymore. I’d already done that, and besides, now that I was past childbearing age, it just didn’t seem like the kitchen was the best use of my life experiences. I wanted to share, explore, expand, and love in mature, generous ways, where we both kept our autonomy and our own addresses.
The idea of marrying myself was finally solidified on a cliff in Barbados over the holiday. The wedding tressel is a permanent part of the landscape at The Crane in old Bridgetown, with the sea crashing below. While the wind caressed my skin as I spread my arms wide like wings, I turned towards the water and began to quietly whisper the words I so longed to hear.
“I love you.”
I felt kind of giddy. My heart was racing and it was like one of the great passages in life, when everything is clear and obvious. It wasn’t a fancy ceremony; Just me, in my bathing suit, with the sound of the surf, and my heart beating wildly inside my chest, to a perfect harmony.
“I do,” I said, hoping that with vigilance I could be my own best friend, partner, soul mate and companion. Maybe there would be others down the road, but this seemed somehow right, and I for the moment, I would just have to trust myself.
I previously wrote about this on the blog First Wives World in 2009. Yesterday’s article in USA Today about Yasmin Eleby marrying herself in a wedding ceremony consisting of friends and family inspired me to revisit my own musings on the subject. ~ M. Joy Rose
I married myself and she did too! @MarthaJoyRose Woman turns 40, marries herself http://usat.ly/1CCHzoO via