I don’t often experience envy but I admit to this one…
There are some couples that just love each other – deeply and honestly. And I just love being with them. This is a rare experience for me but I’m fortunate to have two such couples in my life. One couple are former clients – RC and CC. We had an almost immediate connection when I picked them up at their hotel and over the years it has grown into a dear friendship. The other two are close relatives of my husband, GG, and her husband, DW.
I was single for almost 20 years and very ambivalent about remarrying – until I met RC and CC. I acknowledged to myself that I had often pictured marrying my true best friend – spending my retirement years traveling, laughing, reading, exercising, sharing. The more I got to know RC and CC, the more firm my resolution became to be open to a committed relationship. I saw that what I pictured could actually be a reality.
DW and GG, RC and CC, all live my dream. Of course, they have their issues and problems too, but there is an underlying friendship and respect that prevails. I spent some time with RC and CC a few weeks ago, and for the last few weeks, have been with DW and GG almost every day.
Being around all of them over the last month, I’m finding myself nurtured and renewed and in an effort to hold on to my feelings, I’m identifying words to express what I experience when I’m with them. For the most part, I find myself feeling comfort, joy, peace, hope and admiration.
I know about many of their struggles and triumphs, the heartaches and joys of their relationships. I’ve listened to their stories, shared some experiences with them. I know their lives have not been without pain, death of a child, infidelities, serious health issues, long separations while serving in the Military, the stresses of being married to an obstetrician/surgeon – experiences that have torn many couples apart. But they managed to reach the other side and become even closer. I’ve watched them handle differences with respect, acceptance, a lot of listening, and humor. They have a gentleness, even when they’re irritated with each other, have shown courage to let the other be unhappy or gritchy, sad or happy. They’re all individuals and seem to know their boundaries. And they respect those boundaries.
Some words I might use to describe what I see and feel between them is acceptance, loyalty, safety, generosity, comfort, admiration, respect, gentleness, a deep caring. A joy in being with each other. They are truly best friends. They express differences easily. They share some activities, tolerating others just because they prefer to spend time with each other and share a memory. They both have friends and outside activities but it’s clear that they prefer each other and their time together. They are present for each other. They have differences but have learned, over many years, how to express themselves respectfully. They know that absolutely their partner has their back. No matter what or who… And they have traditions – with their families but also between themselves. Little things. Some are daily rituals. DW brings coffee – every morning! – to GG in bed. He always pulls her car out of the garage and has it ready for her when she’s ready to leave. She rewards him with a lot of praise and admiration. Every time. Just like it’s the first time. She never seems to take him for granted. All four of them express abundant appreciation for their partners. Consistently. When I hear them criticize, when they’ve done something wrong, there’s still a sense in speech and attitude that they’re on that person’s side. I also know that they’ve hurt each other deeply at times and I’d really love to see how they handle it in private. Is it the same? They’ve all just said they try to stay respectful.
Both couples have been together since high school. They have told me that early years together were not without hurdles and huge adjustments – there were some very difficult times. Communicating well was not an easy thing to learn. They all feel that they worked very hard to create their present relationship. Part of it just evolved as their friendships grew over the years. They were deeply committed to being best friends and treating each other with respect. At times, their only expectation was – and is – that they protect their friendship as they would with any other dear friend.
I now realize that when I married, I had some pretty unrealistic expectations. You’d think that in the time it took to get all of this gray hair, I’d have learned more! My husband and I are in the early years of our relationship and I’m discovering that just because we are older – and more experienced in relationships – it doesn’t mean that we can bypass adjustments and difficult times. We both now have more tools to work with – and we use them a lot! We are still learning our life lessons. And that sometimes means double the lesson – we are there for each other while we get through our individual lessons as well. The single life was so much simpler in many ways – not as rewarding in other ways. I just believe that a relationship takes us places that we simply can’t get to on our own. And that’s where I want to be.
My husband and I have been together for almost five years, in our 70’s. I treasure our relationship and friendship. We came together with our pasts – our longest history and memories are with others. We just simply don’t have a lot of time left to create a long history together. No time to waste on wishing that I had what my friends have but it is a great goal. I’m busy working on getting as far as possible with that one…. And I will be gentle, appreciate, respect, be grateful.
I will be grateful for the time and progress we have – and will make in our relationship. We have some great role models. I want to be that for our children….