Back in my twenties, it seemed to make a sort of sense. When I was searching for The One With Whom I Would Share My Life, I sort of got it. You know, the idea that one person could just not possibly be enough for a person throughout their whole life.
At that point in my life I’d seen one too many movies in the ilk of “Sleepless In Seattle”, giving me that storybook fairytale belief that there was just one person in the world that would fit perfectly with me. But after years of dating people who weren’t even close, and after that one affair, I started to suspect that maybe it was true. Maybe one person couldn’t be that all inclusive “Soul Mate” that Hollywood was trying to sell me on. Instead of one person being everything, maybe all it was supposed to be was that one person was “enough”.
And enough has been good to me, don’t get me wrong. Throughout my thirties, in my married haze of raising three children, enough was just right. I was happy and glad to be settled, raising my family, with a strong man who cared deeply for me and provided well for our family. I’m not trying to paint an idyllic picture here; there were years and years of hard times in my early marriage. We still fight and argue, and he still drives me crazy. I still envy the people I know who seem to have chosen better, found a better “fit”, more of the “enough”. But overall, the fifteen years of my marriage has never caused me to revisit the concept again of More Than One.
But now that I am in my forties, I do sometimes wonder….is this it? If this is it, is enough truly going to be enough for the rest of my life? Because now that I’m in my forties, I’m well aware that there aren’t unlimited tomorrows ahead of me, ripe with possibility. What I have now, this is all it is going to be. And there are times when I wonder if enough really is enough anymore.
There are things that don’t exist in my marriage, that I wish were there. We don’t hold hands. We don’t sit together on the sofa. We don’t go out to dinner, just the two of us. We don’t have deep conversations about what I’m doing or his work, or anything really but the children. He doesn’t massage my shoulders at the end of a day, or ask me what I’m reading next to him in bed, or any of the myriad intimacies I don’t even realize I’m missing most of the time.
This is where so many people my age stumble. The men, they start to see some of those things they’re missing in the younger women they meet at work, the ones who are starry eyed (as I was) at the thought of a grown up person who has already figured it all out. The women, they change their careers, they lose the baby weight, and they find maybe in their haste to be married and settled that they didn’t think through their choice as carefully as they should have. And then one day, they rethink the whole thing.
I think back to what I was to that married man, now that I am his age. And believe me, I am in no way considering having an affair, at all. But I wonder sometimes, how amazing it would be to have someone so excited to be with me, to see me, to just spend an evening enjoying my company. To have that awe and amazement. That fire.
I kind of get it now. I don’t want to leave my husband. I love him. I love our life. I know all of these things with absolute certainty. But to have a chance to fill some of the holes that have worn through the fabric of our marriage over the years?
It’s a dizzying thought.