I’ve spent a lifetime in short term relationships. They’ve had a life expectancy of three years. Yet Tuesday is my 8th wedding anniversary. What explanation do I have?
On our second date, I told Maude of my relationship history, and her response was to think “But they weren’t me.” So was she right, or did I change?
Bad news: I’m not going to answer that question, because I can’t, and because maybe both answers are true. But I can talk about commitment, because that was a word often thrown at me, and I have the scars to prove it.
Why was commitment so difficult then, and so effortless now? Again, I’ll give two answers. Firstly, I was needy. There was a black vortex of loneliness within me like a whirlpool; I could sometimes ignore it and stay outside its pull, but again and again I was sucked in. And no one could fill that emptiness, no one could match my expectations of intelligence, beauty, assertiveness and amenability once that first flush of infatuation wore off. For that, I am so sorry. But therapy, meditation and life helped me to find myself and change my view to half full, not half empty.
The second reason for my commitment is to do with the way Maude gives me the space to be myself.
In every previous relationship without fail, I felt that there were constraints, limitations, boundaries on who I could be and what I could do and say. (I concede that some of these may have come from my own expectations of how a man should behave.) The effect was that I progressively felt more and more that I did not know who I was, that I felt trapped and stifled until I had to branch free to find myself, painful though that separation usually was.
But with Maude there is no trace of that. She actively revels and applauds my activities in the world, whether with her or without her. She hears my thoughts, feelings and desires, and accepts them as valid and as part of me. With such an extraordinary offer of a place to be myself, why would I ever want to leave?
And so our joint commitments(*) include giving each other the space to be ourselves in the knowledge that such freedom and the self expression it allows leads to the most extraordinary intimacy two people can have.