Two of my dearest friends are transiting from marriage to singlehood and understandably are loudly vaunting the advantages of the status towards which they are moving. They are holding poles either end of a large banner proclaiming the joys of not being accountable to another human being. How great it will be to have the house exactly as you want it, take the holidays you want, have regular days without children whilst they are looked after by the former spouse, be able to click your fingers to get a man to carry out repairs when you used to wait months for things to be done, to be able to focus on your career, to be available sexually to men, be financially independent.
For all that their chorus is exactly what I would expect as they resolve their own cognitive dissonance as the labels that define them change, it is also challenging for me to deal with. It subtlely impacts on my marriage relationship so that when I feel tired after a hard day, there are subversive thoughts waiting to creep in: perhaps it would not be this hard if I were not married. Every position I take in relation to them requires me to scrutinise my motives. If I am happy for my friends that they are free, do I, too, want to be free? If I think they are kidding themselves (but am far to kind or polite to say so), am I just deceiving myself? If I am cross with them (but far too kind or polite again) for not being more sensitive to my position, should I not be better able to withstand their challenge to my situation? If I feel sad for them, is there any smugness mixed up in the sadness? Is this just the calm before the storm of loss that will engulf them, and why would I wish that on a friend? Will they, having been brave enough to ditch an unrewarding relationship, find that illusive perfect relationship that will put mine in the shade?
For all that I understand that being single again will allow them to feel more free than they have both felt in more than ten years, I wish it was possible for them to resolve their differences with their husbands because, having considered all the advantages of being single, and having taken into account all the considerable advantages of being married to my husband, I choose to remain married. But then, I am not married to their husbands …
I shall be glad for them, but say that it is not for me. I’m happy where I am.