- Gender and Relationships
Love in the Middle Ages
Breaking Up Is Still Hard To Do.
After two divorces and too many relationships, I should be an expert on the subject of mature unions. Unfortunately, the only real expertise I've gained is on what not to do. Clearly, making the man/woman bond work for the long-haul is beyond me, as my most recent breakup proves.
This time I thought I had it right. It was a relationship based on mutual-respect, and although we had many differences, we shared the basics, like love of family and a desire for commitment. We had one hobby in common, horses, though he was much more dedicated to them. I was an occasional rider; he would stay in the saddle all day. However, with those things as a foundation, I thought we could go the relationship distance.
In the end, what kept us together became far less powerful than what drove us apart. We had no dramatic incident. We didn't cheat. We didn't yell. We respected each other's space. But time dimmed the initial passion, as it always does, and life got financially tough. We each took refuge in the things that comforted us, but they were not things that we shared. I read, wrote, and watched bad TV: He worked long hours, spent even more time with the horses, and watched bad TV. Even the TV watching was done separately. I watched a little of everything. He watched anything with a horse in it.
When life becomes stressful, it brings all negatives to the forefront. So, while I always knew he wasn’t a talker, it didn’t bother me that much until I really needed someone to talk to. It was our mess, so I thought we should discuss it. Often. As much as I needed to dissect the problems, he needed to stay silent on the matter. In his opinion, there was nothing to say. We had to endure and get through the rough patch. Quietly. Very quietly. While talking is like oxygen to me, it has the opposite effect on him. Talking sucks the air out of the room.
Then entire winter was cold, indoors and out. When we occasionally sat together on the couch, I pecked away at my laptop while he dozed off and on. Lost episodes of Bonanza played in the background. Neither of us was particularly angry at each other. But the cracks between the cushions might as well have been the continental divide.
What brings us together can ultimately push us apart. What seems like a difference that can be overlooked grows exponentially under duress. Perhaps these are the reasons we didn’t make it. I thought I had reasonable expectations this time. I thought I finally had a handle on how to make things work. I didn’t think I’d be alone again at 53. Surprise.