Barbara: I might be opening a kettle of fish with this question (and I guess I want to), but if you come along for the ride, you could end up helping me a lot.
Here’s the scoop. I’m currently working on a screenplay (it’s an adaptation of a novel) where the heroine enjoys a lot of personal accomplishments, but finds that she is missing true love. Because of this void, she feels somehow less whole.
The reason I’m throwing this question out to you is because I want to fully commit to the truth of my character’s emotional arc. And if you share your own stories and thoughts with me here, you could get me closer to an essential and universal truth. In other words, my personal experience is not necessarily enough to answer such a big question!
At some point in our lives, we’re all exposed to the literary or idealistic conceit that a significant other is our “other half”. “The two shall become one,” “You complete me,” “My better half,” “The yin to my yang,” etc, etc. I don’t think anyone will argue that love is wonderful and beautiful and enriching. That our lives are more abundant if we are fortunate enough to have any form of reciprocal love in it, preferably in many different forms. I certainly believe that. But would I feel less complete if I was working and creating and socializing, loving and living a rich life, if I didn’t also have my “other half” along for the ride?
My husband and I have been together for 31 years, since I was 16 (I know!). In that time, we have gone through an incredible amount of personal and relationship change and growth. We have mined depths of love that I feel incredibly blessed to have experienced (and depths of pain I feel incredibly lucky to have survived). I also know that as a result of such a long-term connection, we both had to go through times where we desperately needed to find ourselves—not as a new-age expression, but as a truthful part of our personal development. Where does he end and I begin? What do I love because I LOVE it or because he loves it? What are my dreams, what are his dreams. what are our dreams?
I know my situation is very rare. And some of you will find it wonderful and sweet and some of you will shudder in your shoes at the very thought. I, of course, couldn’t be happier that my life has worked out this way. But if (god forbid) my situation were to change, would I feel less complete?
I want to say, No. Absolutely, no-holds-barred No. I am my own person, I follow my own dreams, I make my own decisions. I love my life. I don’t need another person to fulfill me. Instead, I am lucky that I have a loving partner. But that said, I speak from the viewpoint of someone who is lucky enough to have a loving partner. If he were to walk out the door tomorrow (again, god forbid), I might not need another experience of this kind because I have known it already. But if I had never EVER known it, would I always be wondering what it was like, feeling the void of it, desperately wanting to have it? Even if I had all the other things I currently have?
I know I’m asking a lot because there are so many variables (kids, economic security, emotional needs, etc), but all things considered, surely you all must have an opinion on this question. And if you do, I would be deeply, eternally grateful if you shared it with me. xo
Deb: This triggered thoughts that have been hiding in the broom closet of my brain. Thoughts that have arisen from my dear friend losing her husband recently at a young age. Through her loss and pain, I could see what she was facing and it raised many questions in my soul.
I guess speaking for myself, I would safely say that I am totally my own person with my own likes and dislikes and my own sense of self. I do not need someone else to complete me. I have worked very hard over the years on self-improvement and plan on staying that course until my time to die. And yes, it will keep me busy!
But––and here’s the thing––I want to share it with my husband. Over time I couldn’t even tell you which of us liked what first, or if something was his idea or mine, or even where the line was drawn. I love that the line is murky. That is what a good partnership is for me. The fact is, we have influenced each other because the respect for each other’s opinion is so strong in each of us. I respect his taste and he respects mine. And maybe without his valued opinion I would not have tried something new and foreign to me. But I did and I do. And I am so much richer for it. I hope he is too. I am lucky enough to have another set of very loving eyes from which to view the world. I take what I like and the rest falls under “agree to disagree” category.
But that is the crux of it for me––his and my point of view melding together to make the marriage the multi-faceted union that it is. And it is a union. And there are all sorts of wonderful types of unions. But ours is a legal union that we needed to make. The instant our wedding was over, we instantly felt like family. It was one of the nicest feelings I have ever had.
I have always felt in my heart, and especially lately, that I would not seek out a new love if Colin died (God forbid). I feel secure in the knowledge that I am such a strong person, such a lover of life, that I would go on in new and different directions alone, having had something special that I could never top. The love that we have now would carry with me alone into the world and I would be happy for its company.