This week I have spent time with several couples all at different stages of their repartnered life.
One couple have been together more than 30 years, another around 15 years and the other are is only just heading into their third year together.
The newly repartnered ones have a complex situation - between them and their own exes there are about 9 kids, aged between 6 and 16. They now face the challenges of trying to blend (isn't it more like a hurricane than a blend!) everyone into a new life. There's houses to find (can you even imagine how many bedrooms and bathrooms they need!), personalities to co-ordinate and budgets to negotiate.
I think thirty years ago, maybe even 15, there was no where near the amount of ruminating and evaluation in the decision to repartner that there is now. Back then, if you found yourself in the unfortunate position of being post- partnered, and were lucky enough to meet someone else, you just got on with it. I'm pretty sure that people in my parents generation didn't spend much time on asking questions of themselves like ''but am I happy?', Will this relationship fulfill my needs? Where is my identity in this? Am I compromising too much? But how will we make it work? It wasn't even a ''love will conquer all'' mindset - it was just a sense of gratitude that you were able to find another person to do life with, and a belief that because you'd got a second chance, it would work out for the best (or you'd die trying).
On the other hand, since the natural order of things is to be in a relationship, I think modern society has made it easier, and more acceptable to repartner more than once, more than twice. And the statistics are grim for second time around. About a 20% success rate apparantly.
There's whole websites dedicated to making us thinking about, and worrying about whether or not we're happy in our relationships and whether they are succesful or not. And then leading us to the conclusion that if we're not, it must be the relationship that is the issue. We made the wrong choice. We sacrificed too much. We are not being honest with ourselves, or being authentic or whatever, because if we were, we'd be just so happy and the relationship would be unfolding beautifully in front of us, the wrongs of previously liasons but hazy memories, and the mistakes we made in the ''first time round'' no longer likelihoods. And it's not our fault. It's just life. It's just relationships that have no guarantees. We did the best we could right?
Good grief, what a total load of shite that all is. On so many levels. Of course people make us happy or unhappy. Or course if you feel miserable in a relationship you're going to want out. And of course there's a 99.9% chance it's not the person (or the relationship) that is the cause of the unhappiness - it's all about what's going on in the inside don't you know... (Actually there's probably some truth to that but that's not my point here)
My question today is this - who is better off? The generation ago couple who 'got on with it', or the generation now couple who get out before it turns ugly? The person who compromises or the one who 'suffers in silence'. The one who thinks 'thank God I'm not single' or the one who looks in and thinks 'thank God I am'. I don't know. But this I do know:
Too much navel gazing. Too much reading. And way too much time paying attention to the fairy tales that fill the internet.