Monday, 16 March 2015

Dance me 'till the End of Love

I don't believe in it anymore. True Love. Long lasting 'til the end of time' kind of love. It's such a compelling story, and my heart wants, at some level, to embrace that as a hope and dream. But no. I don't think it's a thing. If anything, I think it's an exception to the rule - like a very small percentage of relationships that begin in a youthful 'falling in love' place and ends in getting old together happily. I have seen lots of people get old together. But happy ones? Not so much.

I started listening to Leonard Cohen. Yesterday. He's Bush Man's favourite singer, and when we got together we played a few of his songs on my cell phone YouTube. Now my YouTube thinks I'm a Leonard Cohen fan, and gives me recommendations every time I open it. So last night Bush Man checked in with me a little on WhatsApp and when we said goodnight, I sent him the Leonard Cohen version of 'Dance Me till the End of Love'. Just as a playful goodnight moment - him sleeping alone in his guest house and all.

And then I listened to it myself. And felt myself being drawn into the such compelling picture of a love that lasts a lifetime. The romantic siren song that lures you to believe it's possible. I believed it for a while, that night. And then woke up again in the morning to my real life. Knowing that it's an almost impossible dream - one that maybe a very lucky very few chance upon.

This weekend I discovered and downloaded the book "Marriage Confidential". Wow! If ever I have read a book that so thoroughly defines my  own feelings about my marriage, and those of so many people of my generation that I've talked to, then this is it!  I'm not finished it yet, but I am seeing marriage in a whole new light. People like me and my husband. Living in 'meh' marriages where that passion and inspiration is long gone, but it's not 'bad enough' for us to part. Where we define our partnership first in terms of our co-parenting responsibilities and can't really remember the actual reasons why we chose each other in the first place. Where that passion is gone, but a respect and partnership (and friendship) still lingers. Where we all look at each other, silently wondering what actually happened. She defines that all so well.

And then she talks about how people like us are starting to redefine marriage. Quietly. Confidentially , mostly. Open marriages like mine. Divorced but cohabiting and coparenting. Polyamory. Sanctioned 'stepping out'. Swinging. All new ways of addressing the loss of the dream and the 'quiet desperation' so many of us endure while trying to do our best by living in marriages that are past their sell-by date if we look purely at the Romantic Expectations we began our relationships with. She says so many modern marriages end because of the loss of this dream. And maybe they don't have to. The ones that are lasting now are the ones where quiet redefinition is taking place. Where we are allowing ourselves to have courageous conversations about what we really want out of life. About vitality. About passion. Sex. About personal growth and wrestling with life.

And I think that's possibly what my husband and I are doing. We have spent some incredibly painful years facing up to each other and feeling a sense of failure of our marriage to stand up to the standards we set it. Acknowledging it fell short. And now starting to examine how we can co create a way forward: That works for us. Our kids. Our sense of community and stability on the world.

We didn't talk it through like this at all. I want him to read this book as a way of setting a background and context for us both to realise we are not alone in this place. That millions of marriages just like ours are suffering like this. That we may well be ahead of the curve in being one of the pioneering and courageous couples who are consciously looking to shift, and yet preserve our basic lives without ripping the fabric of our family apart.

I want to have this conversation with him. For the first time in years I feel quite inspired by what we're doing, instead of feeling like it's just a way of containing the fallout after our failure as a couple.

How exciting. A new way of framing our life together. I hope I get him to read the book - could take him months. Sigh.

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