Monday, November 28, 2005

Love and marriage (and babies and ...)

Over the past week I’ve done more socializing and had more contact with friends and family than I have for most of the semester. Felt great!

During the course of these interactions, there’s always good conversation to be had. The topic inevitably rolls around to relationships. I have been curious to see the number of different types of relationships people do – or do not – have. Here’s a sampling:

Case 1 – Had drinks with a fellow grad student after class one day last week. She told me that she had her husband have been happily married for five years. One of their ‘understandings’ is that a ‘physical indiscretion’ for either of them would not end their marriage. For them, it’s OK to share the occasional romp with someone else, providing there’s no emotions or love involved.

Case 2 – I have another friend who is celibate by choice. I recently found out that she hasn’t been on a date since 1993. – 1993!!! – She’s smart, funny, beautiful, worldly, socially charming… and has no interest in men (or women, for that matter.) She’s perfectly happy without a partner… or even a date.

Case 3 – Another friend, whose birthday is the day before mine, told me that his best gift this year was that his partner of 2.5 years (with whom he lives) finally ‘told the parents’.

Case 4 – A friend in her early 40s who’s been married twice, and now seems to enjoy the company of lovers over long-term partners, decided earlier this year that it was time for a baby. She is currently quite ‘pregnant by design’, having visited a fertility clinic. For her, not having a husband was no reason not to have a baby. (I admit, I thought about this too, but ultimately decided it wasn’t for me…at least not now.)

Then there’s me – I seem to routinely attract men who want to marry me. I’ve done this since my very first boyfriend in high school. All modesty aside, I’ve had more marriage proposals than I care to count.

And I was married. Once. To be honest, I’m not sure I have it in me again. I’m at the point now where I’ll say to a man (even one I care about sincerely), “If you say the ‘L-word’ or the ‘M-word’, I’m outta here.” (‘L’ being for ‘love’ and ‘M’ being for ‘marriage’ of course.)

So… Here are my questions… Would a ‘physical indiscretion’ end a relationship for you? Ever been celibate by choice? (This topic may get a post of its own soon…) How long would you wait for someone to tell their family about you? Would you ever have or adopt a baby without a partner? Is marriage your end goal to being in a relationship?

I’m interested to know what others have to say about this topic. As MCM would say, “Kettle’s on… Let’s chat about this one over tea….”


zouzou said...

ooh, juicy post!
Would a ‘physical indiscretion’ end a relationship for you? It would depend. It would definitely be a huge stumbling block. I was in a relationship once where I didn't really care, but I'm not sure I was really in love at the time, either.

Ever been celibate by choice?
Umm. No. A bit too often am celibate by misfortune!

How long would you wait for someone to tell their family about you? One of my exes had a brother who went out for FIVE YEARS with a girl and all the time her family thought he was "just a friend" - they were a bit old-world and culturally rigid. They did eventually get married but for me, I'd say a few months in a SERIOUS relationship. For lovers, I wouldn't care if they never said a thing

Would you ever have or adopt a baby without a partner? Umm... not yet? hee hee

Is marriage your end goal to being in a relationship - yes, if it's a serious one. Haven't had any of those for the past eight years or so...

ipodmomma said...

I'm pretty boring... been with OH since I was 21, and will be 40 next year, so that's a long time... can't imagine either of us having any kind of physical indescretion... it's almost too funny to think about!

was celibate before I met Peter, he was the first...

maybe it will all get interesting with the kids... but they are all late-ish bloomers, and except for the youngest, have pretty much avoided the boy/girlfriend scene...

one day though... :)))

Turtle Guy said...

thought provoking!

Would a ‘physical indiscretion’ end a relationship for you?

How much space can I take up to answer this one? As with life, I believe there’s no right or wrong answer to this particular question. It has everything to do with circumstances. It is my believe, however, that ‘physical indiscretion” occurs for basically one of a couple reasons. (a) there’s something missing in one’s relationship, be it physical, emotional, intellectual, whatever… doesn’t have to be anything physically missing for a physical indiscretion to be the result. (b) the party involved in said indiscretion really WANTS to be free – doesn’t really WANT to be with just one person. This may be true over a number of indiscretions or just one. And is it an indiscretion if previously talked about with one’s partner – the fact that it “may” or even “will” occur?

Another thought: If the indiscretion occurs because of (a), is that not a heads up to both parties that there has been something lacking in the decision process in choosing to be together? You do, after all, have the option to “work out” anything that may be “wrong” or “missing”. Sometimes it’s as easy as saying “honey, I’d really like to see (this) as a part of our relationship because I feel it’s lacking.”

Indiscretions come also as a result of fear. You “fear” what your partner might say or think if you approach them with “something’s wrong here…” or “I’m not feeling just right about this”. So you quietly, without discussing it, do the deed and decide down the road whether or not to bring it up. Then there’s the “fear” of the resulting reaction if you bring it up or not. A real web of emotional stuff, really.

My take? Choose your friends and your intimate/life partner with a great deal of care. Time wise this may vary from person to person, but a decision made in haste is sometimes a regrettable one.

Ever been celibate by choice? (This topic may get a post of its own soon…)

Yes, and at different times for varied durations. I’ve never felt the need or want for an intimate relationship without connection. Hence, after my first serious relationship which lasted 3 years, I was celibate for another 3 – completely by choice.

How long would you wait for someone to tell their family about you?

My answer to this question isn’t even about when, but why. It really depends on the vibe.

If I feel that I haven’t been introduced to her family because she’s not sure I’m worth introducing – as friend or otherwise – perhaps I wouldn’t wait all that long. That’s a flag to more than the issue of family introduction.

If I get the sense she’s not so sure how I would take to her family, that’s a different story. Patience enters into the equation. I’m a pretty sociable sort. I meet and get to know a wide range of people in my daily life. I have a great number of friends and associates who are of varied personality types – and I get on with pretty much all of them. I’m CLOSER to some than others for reasons of personal compatibility.

What if she’s putting in some time to really get to know me? From my side, some time is a GOOD thing! Picture this: “hey, mom and dad, closest sisters and brothers… check out this guy I JUST MET and we’re SO INTO EACH OTHER… WOW, GOTTA MEET HIM!” Am I the flavour of the week at this point? Ewww…. Meanwhile, her family’s saying “*sigh* yet another Mr. Perfect… wonder how long THIS one will last…”

In answering a question with a question, my final comment on this question is this question:

What if she REALLY doesn’t know what SHE wants?

Would you ever have or adopt a baby without a partner?
Likely not. Would I choose a partner who already has kids? Perhaps, depends on the circumstance. I have dated women with kids and the dynamic is unique. In both cases, I got along very well with all parties, mom and kids alike. Deciding factors on the termination of said relationships were entirely different. One had to do with location, location, location and the other with general life vision – the way we saw the world etc. Do I want children? (not the question, I know, but related none the less) Having kids is not an “objective” for me. I guess if we’re speaking in terms of “objectives” I would have to say that the only real one is that yes, I would like to find a partner. What dynamic we create is entirely unique to us. If I find someone who would like to have kids and we can make that happen, great! If I meet someone who either (a) doesn’t want kids or (b) can’t have kids I’m certainly not going to turn down the opportunity to be with a wonderful person – who is after all supposed to be my partner – over if, when or how.

Is marriage your end goal to being in a relationship?

No. What is an “end goal” anyway? Aren’t we talking about life? Life is a process. If marriage is your end goal, what then? Nowhere to go or grow? OK, perhaps I’m being a tad literal here, but perhaps again “objective” would be a suitable term? I’m pretty open minded here. I grew up in a very traditional family – mom at home with us kids, dad worked, brought up to believe “no family before marriage, and certainly no intimate stuff neither!” …as all young men do, I set about finding myself – who I was, what I truly chose to believe, yada yada yada… at the age of about 14. This too is an ongoing process. Where do I sit now? Definitely a solid relationship is far more important than marriage. Anyone can have sex, anyone can be married. How many people are connected? The chosen few are those who put the effort in to creating the RELATIONSHIP they want. How many people do you know ran out and got married because it was the thing to do? Are they happy? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. But MARRIAGE is not a happiness guarantee. The GUARANTEE is exactly what you make it out to be – the effort, the forgiveness, the give and take (and there’s lots more, of course). Have I lost sight of the question yet? Actually, I dare say I’m rambling here… I answered the “question” in a word! Moving forward…

Sarah Elaine said...

Z. - I'm glad you thought the post was 'juicy'. I think the comments are equally so!

IPM - I'm sure the experiences with the kids will be interesting!

TG - Holy cow, man. Your comment was longer than my post! Good food for thought though.... :-)

madcapmum said...

1. Probably. It would certainly precipitate some enormous changes.

2. About a month if we were dating seriously. Two and a half years?! Honestly, I'd think either a)my partner was ashamed of me or b)he was a sissy with a strange parental relationship. If he couldn't work up the muster to tell mum and dad he was dating, I'd be pretty worried about my potential inlaws! And the potential spouse, for that matter...

3. Nope. It's too much work! I don't know how single people do it!

4. Yup. I'm too easily bruised for a string of loves.

oldhall said...

Case 1: People should decide, and then agree in great detail, prior to marriage, "what marriage means to me (and doesn't mean)". If they agree not to be physically faithful... well, alright, I guess that could conceivably work, but I'll bet you a euro that it won't work... and I couldn't live that way.

Turtle Guy said...

OH: Very wise words, my friend!

ZZ: Interesting that you "didn't really care" AND "not...really in love". I think that says it all. Much as the "L" word is often avoided, even shunned, it's important to consider, and I don't care who you are, you KNOW the differece between being in "L" and being in "l".

ALL: Funny, this morning I was thinking I would post about "L" - the good, the bad and the ugly... or at least bounce around a few ideas as to why we think it's so taboo. Along came this post, and I think it's time for some pondering. You may see some thoughts on my side later.

M A F said...

Hello Sarah,

What wonderfully interesting and introspective questions you offer your readers to ponder. Offering comments is another subject all together.

Concerning a ‘physical indiscretion’ probably not, and no even if I did get angry.

'Celibate by choice?' Sort of. I didn't chose to be celibate in the beginning, but I did decide not to have sex despite the opportunity to do so.

On waiting to tell, this question should have its own topic. As I read your friends example I kept thinking of a gay couple, where one partner was 'out' and the other was not.

On a personal level, waiting to tell would depend upon the seriousness of the relationship. If we were just sex-be-friends I don't think that that it matters if she tells her family.

Adoption without a partner? No.

Marriage the end goal? No.

I could see having back and forth discussions on these topics over tea.

CM said...

Can't resist the questions!

Would a ‘physical indiscretion’ end a relationship for you?
Not necessarily - I've had a few of my own indiscretions, but really only after I think I knew in my heart that it was "over" with someone. If I was married, that might be different. I suspect it would be the end.

Ever been celibate by choice?
Not really, although it doesn't matter to me a whole lot if I'm "getting any" or not, so I don't think about being celibate by choice when I'm not in a relationship. It's just that I'm not in a relationship, not that I'm choosing to be celibate.

How long would you wait for someone to tell their family about you?
Maybe 3-4 months. Unless they have a very bad relationship with their family or there was some huge obstacle, like a bizarre religion or something.

Would you ever have or adopt a baby without a partner?
Hell no! I wouldn't ever have or adopt a baby in the first place, because I hate kids, and I fail to see what satisfaction people find in raising them. Whether I had a partner or not is irrelevant - I simply would never have or adopt a baby. Ever.

Is marriage your end goal to being in a relationship?
No, happiness is the main goal, for both persons. However, I think it is a personal long-term goal (yeah, she says, at 36 it's already long term!). As you know, my previous 5-year relationship with N had the non-marriage issue as a major reason for the breakup after that time. Not the only reason though. I think I'd be more comfortable with marriage eventually though. Something deep seated about not feeling "good enough" for anyone to marry, I suppose. Wouldn't want to die feeling that way. Ugh.

Elliot said...

Physical indiscretion in a marriage is a sign of immaturity. The solution is simple, yet complex enough to make you need to drink too much: decide whether you really want to be married. Be true to yourself, because, no one else will, and no one else needs the responsibility.

How long before someone tells about me? Well, I've been married 13 years and my father in law still thinks I'm my wife's "travelling buddy." Just kidding.

I'll leave the rest blank because it seems your reading assignment is long enough already!

Anonymous said...

Hey Sarah, you forgot to include me in your kaleidoscope of relationships. The 48-50ish fun-loving woman who is finally ready to get married and I mean in the sense of Turtle guy's analysis. I don't see much point in physical intimacy without spiritual connection (been there, done that) and am now looking to get REAL DEEP with that special man via a Tantric journey....adivina quien?