Question: Dear Luise: I’d like to say I really appreciate that you’ve taken the time to help us all out here at this site. It’s very admirable that an 82 year-old lady would take an interest in the rest of us. Your maturity has obviously brought you much wisdom, and it’s very generous of you to share. Anyway, my question pertains to marriage. My boyfriend and I almost immediately knew we loved each other, and we’ve gotten along very well during the year and a half we’ve been dating. We don’t wish to get married for a few more years so that we can be as sure as possible of our compatibility before we become legally tied and start a family. We’re both very young (he’s 22, I’m 21) and unfortunately know that the statistics are against us. The idea of being financially entangled, and having a family, before we realize things won’t work out, scares both of us. So, as many years of experience with these sort of things that you have, I have to ask – what practical things do all couples need to consider before they decide to get married? What sagely advice would you be willing to dish out? Thanks again! A.
Answer: Dear A. I suggested you move your question to my Web-forum: www.wisewomenunite.com but will also answer here.
There are things in life that we can plan like career paths and financial goals…even though they sometimes get derailed. However, I don’t believe relationships can be orchestrated. By that I mean there is simply no way to factor in growth and change. Today’s compatibility can easily become tomorrow’s stumbling block.
We promise “until death us do part” and yes, we’ve seen it work but we have also seen endless examples of people who have proudly stayed married when it was obvious to everyone else that the marriage had failed. Do any of us want that?
For those of us who are alive and well…and aware…change is a normal and wonderful part of life. It follows that all you can truthfully promise a future partner is to learn and grow and stay together as long as you learn and grow in a way that works. That can’t be predicted or controlled. It can’t even be honestly intended. It’s an unknown and always will be.
Some people get lucky. Some agree not to grow. Some have a sixth sense and pick wisely and well. The rest of us either fool ourselves royally or sign up for the lottery. I don’t mean this in a cynical way…it’s just “what is.” Look around you.
Twenty-one years ago I married again. I was 62 and my “to-be” was 78. We only had lunch five times over a three-month period because we met on a blind date and lived in different states. Then I went to Hawaii on vacation. He called me there and asked if I liked “dating.” I said, no, I disliked it because it seemed so contrived and superficial. His answer was, “I totally agree, so what do you think about getting married and getting acquainted later?” This from a formerly, totally predictable man who had been with his high school sweetheart for fifty-nine years! We had different backgrounds…he was Catholic and I wasn’t. He was Italian…one generation in the US and I was “Mayflower-stock”. He was politically conservative and I was liberal beyond belief. The list of incompatibilities was endless. Why then, marry? How could it have been and how can it still be a great success?
The man was open-minded. His interest in me proved that beyond a doubt. I was like someone from another planet to him. I have out grown four (4) partners. Two of my marriages lasted eighteen years each, so we’re not talking one-night stands here. I don’t give up easily. We started out with all kinds of plusses…but in the end they stopped being interested in expansion when I still was. The concept of partnership ended and what we had left was a non-combative co-existence. There is a huge difference between a compatible roommate and a viable life-partner. According to countless women posting on my forum www.WiseWomenUnite.com, roommates don’t talk with each other beyond the data of daily living and don’t listen to each other. There’s no mutual interest…no spark that connects them..
Does that mean I wish I had married my beloved when I was younger? Hardly. He tells me he was very competitive and materialistic and I know I was an airhead! Not a match…not back then.
You can’t guarantee your future. You don’t know yourself that well and you are still maturing. (So am I.) You might feel sure about your fiancé and then find you were wrong or be doubtful and then succeed. It’s possible to stay together…learning and growing together for a lifetime, but not probable. Some simply tire of it, some only thought they were interested in a lifetime of expansion and some can’t go any farther. Only in retrospect can you know and say, “Well, I’ll be darned, we spent our lives together through thick and thin and it was all we’d hoped it would be.
All you can do is pick the best partner you can find and do the best you can. And if it doesn’t last as long as you do, wish each other well and move on. My guy will be 99 years old in October and he is still interesting and interested…and we’re still in love.
I hope this mini-book has given you something the think about. Blessings, Luise