What’s in a name?

As you have made the circuitous journey from empty nester to divorcee with me so far, you may already be familiar with my propensity to over-think everything. Below is the latest foray into stirring myself up.

After spending the majority of my adult years being somebody’s ‘wife’ I find myself in a relationship in which I struggle with how to quantify it as well as what to call um, well, the guy I’m sleeping with… On the face of it who cares what we label him, it, or us, but at the same time if I am wrestling with that aspect of it, it must mean that I care.

The thing is, at age 59 it feels weird to refer to him as ‘my boyfriend’. That term feels so high school-y. ‘My man’ sounds Neanderthal, ‘partner’ sounds like either a business arrangement or one used by people of the same sex. If I were with someone of my sex I’d be fine with that, but I’m not and am reluctant to further confuse the issue. ‘Significant other’ sounds a bit sterile, and though we are as committed as two people can be without actual paperwork to prove it, we are not legally bound so husband/wife feels dishonest, though in certain situations, for the sake of expediency I have claimed to be that.

OK, so let’s talk about that. If, as I’ve suggested, he and I are committed to spending the rest of our lives together, then why not go ahead and get married? As you might imagine, it is more complicated than just making the decision and tossing some rice (or birdseed or confetti or bubbles or whatever it is that people do these days…). There are, at this stage in our lives, as in all stages I suppose, as many reasons not to as there are to do it.

It’s funny but I always told myself, and anyone else who would listen, that if my marriage were ever to fail, I would not remarry, and even be reluctant to re-enter a long term, live in arrangement again. The very idea of relinquishing my autonomy and signing up to once again selflessly (because I’m not sure I know how to do it any other way, but trust me, I’m working on it…) care for another person felt like a really bad idea. Imagine my surprise to find myself racing to do exactly that after only a short few months away from my soon to be ex. Though this time and person felt different and held the possibility for real partnership, something my marriage lacked. Also different this time around was the fact that I was not entering the arena as a dewy eyed innocent (idiot) looking for someone to take care of me, to make all the hard life decisions so that I didn’t have to. This time I was an emotionally, physically and financially sound and self-sufficient adult who joined my life with another’s eagerly and joyfully, not out of insufficiency or fear. And by the way, for you kids in the audience, that is the only way I recommend playing the game at all.

Anyway, enter into this new relationship we did, and it’s working well for both of us. Still, the question remains; maintain the status quo or make it legal. Of the people with whom I have discussed this issue most are soundly on the side of staying committed yet single. Whether this speaks more to my situation or theirs I can’t say. Of course there are things to consider; our respective stuff, and families and financial matters, the decidedly un-romantic and un-sexy side of the equation. But then there are things on the romantic side that I find appealing. One of the things about marrying again is that I was young and not so clever about myself or my soon to be spouse the first time out of the gate. Our wedding and honeymoon had way more compromises to the needs and wishes of others than it should have and bore little resemblance to what I wanted the experiences of them to be. Compromises are always going to be made, but I know myself much better at 59 than I did at 24. Not to get too personal, but not everyone involved in my first wedding was thrilled to be there, and this time I would be marrying someone who actively embraced the idea.

Another thing is that it feels odd to maintain the name of someone I am no longer married to. Yes, I could change my name to anything but why spend time and money on that? Of course it could be argued that like so many red blooded American females I am helpless to withstand the lure of the marital/industrial complex, and am drawn to visions of dresses and parties and cakes. I hope that isn’t true for me but wouldn’t completely rule it out either.

The idea of getting older and being single seems a little sad to me. Maybe it’s a generational thing, but I feel like I might be the marrying kind. Or maybe I’m just grateful that there’s someone who wants to spend the rest of their days with me.

To an outsider these reasons may or even probably sound silly or impractical, but really aren’t there just as many reasons to or not to do just about anything? Ok yes, I am justifying, and yes, I am talking to myself as much as I am to anyone else. I find writing out my thoughts on a particular topic to have a clarifying effect.

I don’t know if or when a second wedding will be in the cards for me. There are varied and valid reasons for either position. But I do know that which ever side I choose, and whatever reason I claim for making that choice is mine and my boyfriend, partner, significant other, main squeeze’s to make.

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