A very good friend of mine was in town last week and delivered some very exciting news. She's engaged to be married. She's a widow who raised four fabulous, although difficult, sons. She leads a very active life: ran for political office, is president of a political action group with national impact, is brilliantly capable socially, and would be considered a real "catch". We met for lunch and I could see that she is happy, but bothered about something. It didn't require a lot of prodding for her to share her fear that although she is extremely happy in the current arrangement of seeing her fiance four nights a week, she wasn't so completely sure that moving in and marriage was necessarily the next step for her right now. Now, I've known this woman for two decades and have never seen her as anything but a decisive woman who knows who she is. Why would she suddenly become someone else?
Turns out that her peers have been badgering her to succumb (pardon the expression) to this proposal of marriage because she's "not getting any younger" and "there aren't a lot of available men in your age group". She realized that a lot of these women have entered this third act of life with a definite sense of resignation and she does not want to be counted among them. By the end of our lunch I realized that my independent self-aware friend just needed someone she trusted to validate her own instinct for how to proceed. It served to remind me that all we ever have is our instinct. By this time in our lives, our instincts have had quite the workout and we're old enough to be able to understand that when we listened to our instincts, we were batting a thousand. When we didn't listen, we lived to regret it. One of the great benefits of getting older is how very clear our inner vision becomes.
Today the ladies on The View were discussing a new wave of relationships becoming popular in Europe and now here in the US. It's called "Together But Separate". A man and a woman commit themselves to a monogomous relationship, but live separately. They can exchange rings, see each other any number of nights during the week, but they each maintain a separate residence. Now that's a relationship with a future! My friend has unwittingly placed herself on the cutting edge of romantic life.