I don’t miss you during the night watches. I miss you during domestic times, like dinnertime and breakfast. I miss you on weekends when we should be going to the places that we always went. When I go to the movies, or to a bookstore, or to a café, our ghosts are there, in the chairs where we once sat contentedly, talking and laughing the way that we used to talk and laugh. Our relationship was never about passion but about daily moments, the embrace of family, the warmth of shared histories and frequent hilarity. The familiarity satisfied me but ultimately left you restless, looking for something more like surrender, searching for the flames of passion to replace the slow burn of hearth and home.
As I grow closer to the end of my marriage, I’ve been turning over the compost, looking over the decisions that I made and why I made them. Years ago, my mother told me that you always miss a friend more than you miss a lover. I chose a marriage of friendship when, 12 years ago, I married my best friend. As we dismantle our shared life, I realize that friendship on its own just isn’t enough for a lifelong partnership.
People choose their relationships for different reasons. Some people thrive on passion, while others build partnerships based on companionship. I suppose that the best relationships find a workable balance of both key ingredients. As a mature woman, I’m asking myself why I chose friendship with minimal romance for my first marriage. For now, my best answer is that I wanted the safety that I rarely felt in my own nuclear family. I looked for kindness. I looked for someone who believed in me and affirmed who I was in so many ways, accepting passion on a really basic level in exchange for safety.
After I can finally talk about my first marriage without bursting into tears, I will try on a variety of relationships to see what the mature me likes best. I do know that I loved many things about marriage, and that I will marry again. Maybe I’ll upgrade from “mild” to “medium” or “hot.” Even so, I still hold out hope for the chance to share life with a friend. Not that I want the flames to fizzle out, but I know that time and geriatrics take an inevitable toll on anyone’s romantic life. But if I’m looking into the sunset of my life with my dearest friend’s hand in mine, cherishing the life we’ve built together, then I know I will be at peace with the choices I’ve made.