Monday, November 8, 2010

Learning to act right (17)… Matters of love

Learning to act right (17)… Matters of love

Torrey Orton
Nov 8, 2010

Matters of love provide daily opportunities for practicing ethical behaviour. Intimate relationships are among our most desired and needed life foundations. In and through them we achieve or seek a large range of other needs. Wherever modernity passes, these relationships are endangered by powerful internal and external forces.

So, 1/2 marriages will have the experience of total relationship breakdown and starting over again (or not – also a decision). This involves, among other things, a delicate dance of hope and pragmatism played out to the music of our needs asserted and acknowledged, engaged and resisted – all for a good reason: no one other can wholly meet our needs. That doesn't stop us hoping they will! This hope is fuelled by the process of negotiating the unequal quantities of dominance and submission required to construct a workable whole for both parties – this thing called an intimate relationship.

The story below catches many of the conflicting needs that pave the way to relationship development and sustainability, or not. It is the effort that offers the learning for us. The honesty of the description provides the material.

Learning to do the right thing: Matters of love
I met my husband when I went to university at the age of 17. With all the enthusiasm of the young we had sex, fell in love, lived together, got engaged and at 22 I was married. This was a marriage based on sex and good food. We had nothing else in common and at the age of 27 with a 2 year old and a 6 week old baby I found myself a single mother. For the past 25 years my life has consisted of work, study and raising children. Early in my single life I had thought I could find love but I was bitter, angry, and distrustful - not attractive features.

So at 52 I fell in love. I had known this man for a number of years through my work. We met on occasion for breakfast and to talk work and usually ended up talking of all manner of things. Though the relationship had always been professional the rapport was comfortable. Then he asked me to dinner. His invitation and insistence told me this was more than a professional rendezvous. The dinner went for 4½
hours. When I think back to that night all I can remember is him and me, I have no recollection of anything else in the restaurant. The conversation was easy and varied and none work related. Here was an intelligent, attractive man who was interested in me at all levels.

I knew he was married, but I let myself believe his marriage was over and that all he needed to do was "sort out the logistics". How SMS and e-mail has changed the face of romance. What in the past took weeks of furtive phone calls and dates to say seems to be said in days. Things that you would never say out loud can be typed and sent with ease. It was exciting and sexually arousing in a way that I had never experienced.

Then the relationship moved to the physical. How nervous do you think I was? The last time I had a lover I was in my early 40s and though fit and healthy things are not where they used to be. I know love is just a cocktail of hormones that combine to make you form an attachment, but I will always remember how caring and considerate he was of me. I don't believe any man has treated me with such respect or tenderness.

Through all the excitement of the past weeks sitting heavily in the back of my mind has been his wife. When I separated, my husband had had an affair with his secretary and for years I have been able to say "he left me for the secretary"; he was the wrong doer, which gave me a sense of righteousness. In fact, we divorced because we had a bad marriage that made neither of us happy. We communicated on the most basic level, had differing values and life expectations. We used sex as a bargaining tool. My life is richer and happier for not being married to my ex- husband and my children more enlightened and happy people.

I find a man I feel worthy to love and who I think could love me and he is married. I have never wanted to be the other woman, partly because of my own experience but also I believe women shouldn't do that to other women. I could continue to have an illicit affair ignoring the consequences to his family, and my own dignity to satisfy a lost need for intimacy but I know it is not right. I don't want to be the cause of his wife's heartache and I want a relationship that is open, honest and conducted in the open light of day. I want him make the right decision about his marriage because he is unhappy, not because of me. I have been conflicted because I am 52, and it has taken me 25 years to fall in love again; will I miss an opportunity that may never occur for me again and end up a lonely old cat woman. Is it right to do what I know is wrong in the pursuit of intimacy long forgotten. I know it is not.

Here is the rub! I fall in love with a man battling the same dilemma. He wants to do the right thing and while I struggle with my own impasse, he has the courage to articulate what is right thing to do and I know he is right. So he is going to sort out his "shit", whatever that means. I don't know what I am expected to do. Will I wait? Does he want me to wait? Will I try to find love on the internet now I have experienced it and will I lose this desperate feeling knowing the right decision has been made?

Today I wish I could be unethical with ease but I know I won't respect myself. Any relationship we may have had will be doomed if it starts this way. That doesn't make me feel any better.

Note – the author remarked that it had taken about 40 minutes to write this story once she allowed herself to see she had a live ethical learning in her heart. The search for a topic had gone on for weeks til that moment.

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