We've Got Each Other

Howard and Betty have been married for fifty years. For the most part theirs has been a good marriage; it still is. They've been best friends, companions, partners, and lovers at various stages and times during their life together. They've recently retired from reasonably successful careers and life looks good.

Howard and Betty certainly have the right idea. In order to stay youthful and viable alive, people need to find things, create things that give meaning to their lives. They've done that.

Since their retirement, each has pursued those special interests they've had on hold during their working years. Howard has gotten into doing digital photography with gusto. He reads everything he can find on the subject, and he's purchased a fancy new computer, and a state of the art printer. He's also found satisfaction in doing projects around the house the do-it-yourself things like building an entertainment center. He's self taught and very proud of his work. Betty likes his finished projects; she likes to look at his pictures. She encourages him to enlarge them and frame them, but she hasn't a clue about the process, the details, the materials, and the design.

Betty on the other hand is delighted to have her time to read all the novels and see all movies she's been neglecting. She loves to cook and grow vegetables in buckets. Howard likes to eat, and he's very complementary when she does a fine meal and presentation for guests. He's not however, interested in the how-toes of food preparation. He couldn't care less about which seeds produce the best peppers or what are the proper components of the soil in which they grow.

Recently, Howard noticed that Betty wasn't paying attention when he was talking to her. Oh, she tries to listen, to be caring and polite, but she just plain isn't interested in hearing the details about Howard's pursuits. She finds Howard's details boring. Betty has other things on her mind, things she'd like to talk about, but Howard's not particularly interested in hearing what she has to say about movies and books, especially novels.

They had anticipated a different kind of retirement, one in which each would share the other's interests, one in which they'd be inseparable; best friends and companions. They still love each other, and there are still many shared activities, but they had to admit they were disappointed and lonely. Lonely that was the last thing they expected to happen to them. They still had each other after all, wasn't that enough?

No. It wasn't enough. They'd never found each other boring before. When they were working, they had less time to focus on special interests and hobbies, and they had co-workers with whom to share projects, ideas and schemes. Now they were expecting each other to fill all their needs. They were putting too much pressure on one relationship.

Relationships like all living things need fresh air and food to survive and to thrive. In a closed system, things, and people die from malnutrition or lack of oxygen. What worked so well for them in the past was that they had others with whom to share.

To make a long story short, Howard found other people to talk to about his special interests. He joined a group of other digital photographers. Now when he wants to talk details, he picks up the phone and calls one of his buddies from the group. Betty joined a book discussion group and a writer's class. They continue to value each other's products' but they don't bore each other with the details of the process. There still are other activities and interests they do share, just like before they retired.

—M. LaCourt

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