Friday, April 17, 2009

Nothing in Common - So much in common

"We have so much in common", she gushes, raving on about the latest "new" man. "We have nothing in common anymore", he says, staring into his beer, forlorn as a wet dog on Sunday.

This "common" stuff - whatever it is, it seems to make or break relationships. Common bonds, points of joint identification, shared history - they all appear to be essential glue in first attracting and then cementing togetherness. We're all familiar with the marriages that breakup in mid-life, one partner having re-connected with an old high school or college sweetie. Certainly happened to me. Nineteen years and three children and he began questioning his mortality, his purpose in life. In perhaps the cruelest blow to me, my father died suddenly and the then husband said it was that sudden loss that sent him searching for meaning in life. He found it at a high school re-union. "She saved the corsage I gave her for the prom; she shares my history".

(Some time ago Connections For Women published an article by Old Flame expert Dr. Nancy Kalish)

There's nothing like wake up moments in life to get the old nostalgia and search for meaning emotions rolling. Kids leaving the nest, retirement, job loss, downsizing, move, illness, loss of a parent or child. These seminal milestones trigger a yearning to be connected, to share "remember when " moments. Most couples first meet through some form of shared history - cultural -location-experience. They form a family unit and build a new history where the 'we" figures largely. "We did this -remember when we...we like - we think- we do". And the stories get told over and over again, the history becomes enmeshed; it's the two of you as one entity - THE COUPLE.

It's trendy of late for couples to take separate vacations, guy time, gal time. Nothing wrong with that. I did it. The danger point through is when the alone time becomes more important than the shared time; when preferring to be apart takes over from wanting to be together; when you start to build new and separate histories with memories that are not shared.

In the search for a new love , a new 'we' - both the men and women I talk to speak and write of wanting to find points of shared history on which to hang this new relationship. They see a new love having better chance of survival and maturing to full bloom if there are already common bonds. They look for a shared cultural past, a common language in which to tell and build upon their story. These bonds are simple elements in life. In my search, bonds that have opened conversations have been a shared catholic upbringing; world travel; a similar "remember when moment" at some cataclysmic moment in history (one man and I discovered we were in the same crowd when the Berlin Wall came down) . Little hooks on which to drape memories and build from there.

A comment posted under my posting Retired Spouse Syndrome" moved me to tears this morning. Pam wrote "I still love him very much but would rather be alone.". What loneliness in that phrase and I wonder what has caused the shared history of 37 years together to be something she wants to walk away from.

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