Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Observing Relationships

This month we’re blogging about relationships. There are so many kinds—familial relationships, work relationships, friendships, e-pals (don’t know whether I’m coining a word here or not), and even the brief encounters we have that affect people in ways we’ll never know.

As writers, we’re observers. We see what goes on around us. Both of my daughters went through terrible break-ups a couple of years ago, and I’ve observed their relationships since then.

My eldest, Elizabeth, lost her first husband to a rare form of cancer, and granted her second husband a divorced when he met someone else. She’s had a few of flings since then, but none have resulted in a long term relationship. The first was a long-distance relationship. They’re still friends. The second ended because the man tried to push his religion on her. She is a devout Catholic, but he claimed the Catholic Church was a bogus religion out for political and economic power. I’m no longer Catholic. I, too, see most organized religions as political and economic rather than spiritual entities, but I also acknowledge that many people still derive spiritual satisfaction from them. I respect anyone who actually practices the religion they espouse, and my daughter is one of those people. But boyfriend number two could not do that. It was a deal-breaker. Boyfriend number three ignored my granddaughter. He attended her birthday party and barely said a word to her all evening. We didn’t expect him to give her a gift (although her step-dad’s girlfriend’s parents brought gifts), but he didn’t so much as say “happy birthday.” Colleen’s birthday is December 20. Elizabeth waited to see what this guy did at Christmas. Not a word. She used work as an excuse to de-escalate the relationship to “just friends.”

Christine’s life has been somewhat easier. Maybe easier isn't quite right. She has worked in the same glass factory for over ten years. Her second husband worked there with her, and when she got divorced from him, she started dating another guy from the factory. They were together five years, and two months before they planned to be married, he left her for another woman. Christine is friends with both of her ex-husbands. Her ex-boyfriend less so, but that seems to be by his choice. He had a daughter who was almost a year old when they started dating. Losing Abby is the hardest part of that break-up. Christine and the kids see her more often than I do. I’ve only seen her once and she almost broke my heart when she asked, “Grandma, do you remember me?” Christine is now dating one of the bosses from the same factory. It’s a very small town. Small enough that if you sneeze at one end, someone at the other end say’s “Bless you,” and everyone in between discusses the state of your sinuses. It’s difficult to meet anyone who doesn’t work at the glass factory, especially since they work twelve-hour shifts. But, she's happy with this man. Maybe that's why I think her life is easier.

The most amusing relationships to watch, however, are my granddaughter’s. Colleen just turned fourteen. She’s in eighth grade and she flits from boyfriend to boyfriend like a butterfly in a meadow. She stays within the same little circle of friends and they stay friends even after they break up. It’s like they play Chinese fire drill. They cruise along and then every so often they all change seats. Colleen will cry for a day or so, but then a few days later, she’s hanging out with that boy and dating someone else, and a month later they’re dating again.

Me, I’m polyamorous. I love everyone. I’m not poly because I have an insatiable libido—just the opposite. I have no libido. So why should I expect a man to be faithful to me when he isn’t going to get any of his physical needs met? My primary sweetie is legally blind so I’ve been known to take him out cruising for women.

When I mention polyamory to people, once they get past the sex part and thinking its all ménages, their next question is “what about children?”

My answer is to that is, “With lives lasting longer and marriages getting shorter, every holiday I see children being pulled in ten different directions by exes and grandparents who all want to have the kids with them. In a poly family, everyone spends the holiday together and no one has to fight over who gets the kids for Christmas.”

Ya know, going back to staying friends after the break-up—maybe my kids’ abilities to stay friends with their exes isn’t so strange. Maybe they get it from me. I only have one ex, and when his wife's not around, we're still hugging buddies.

1 comment:

Jane Richardson, writer said...

Rochelle, I love the way you observe what's going on. Great skill for a writer. :)

Jane x