It isn't a surprise that the columnist's response and that of nearly all of the readers is to stay in the relationship. She tells "Is Love Enough" that aside from these occasional moments when she has a desire to be single, all else in the relationship is good so why should she give that up? She even tells her that this is something she should keep to herself in order to preserve the relationship and the vast majority of those who left comments agree.
What does this spinster think? Well in many ways I agree with the Meredith, the columnist, except that the one thing that Meredith doesn't ask is whether or not being in a relationship is something that ILE actually wants. If ILE really does deep down want a partnered life and if this guy is really as much the bomb as she says he is, and if making the monogamy commitment is something that they both want then yes, she should stay and yes she should keep her thoughts to herself.
I think we make a lot of sacrifices for the things we want in life. Some bigger than others, like not going to see a movie because we want to spend the evening having dinner with a friend; or we may decide to accept a smaller salary to work at a job we truly love over a job that pays far more but is bound to make us unhappy; or we might give up traveling around the world for a year in order to accept that scholarship to the university we really want to attend. And for many, the idea of giving up the perks that go along with being single so that they can make a commitment to and share their lives with another person with the intent of 'til death do us part' is a perfectly worthwhile sacrifice to make.
Some people will say that choosing coupledom is not a sacrifice at all. That a true partnership would only add to your life and not make you feel like you are giving something up. However, it is the nature of a contract (and marriage or commitment is a contract) for there to be an offer made and appropriate consideration is offered back in exchange. When you choose to share a life with someone, to share a living space, finances, and working towards shared goals, you are making a sacrifice. If you are true to the commitment you've made your future decisions will always have to take that person into consideration. Whether or not you take that dream job with the corner office in Manhattan will take into account the impact it will have on your relationship. Whether or not you choose to act on the unexpected attraction between you and the sexy/funny/intelligent guy or gal you met at the library will take into account the impact it will have on the relationship. No matter the choice you end up making, you may very well take the job and have the fling, but at some point you take the relationship into consideration as you are no longer a free agent.*
Of course there are all kinds of relationships, and I've been witness to many successful open relationships but ILE's issue isn't whether or not she wants to be with this particular guy. She isn't having the hots for some other dude, in fact this guy seems to pretty much rock her world. No, she what has the hots for is what she gave up to be in this relationship.
I think it is perfectly natural when we have made a choice that requires sacrifice, that we will on occasion wonder what life would be like if we decided differently. This doesn't always mean that the choice was a bad one or that we are even having serious doubts about the path we took. Humans are curious creatures and that curiosity lends itself to many travels down the What If Road. We all do this; it's normal.
ILE doesn't give enough information in her letter for me to say if she is what I would call 'single at heart' and a candidate for the wonderful world of Spinsterdom (and yes, my world is a wonderful place to be) and Meredith never asks her. The assumption is made that couplehood is where she wants to be, and so the columnist and others who commented respond based on this assumption (and why wouldn't they since our culture assumes this is a goal that everyone wants). So what advice would I have given to Is Love Enough?
Dear Is Love Enough,
My name is Spinster Jane and I'm single by choice. I write a blog about this decision and how my life has been since making it. I'm a pretty happy person most days and do feel quite strongly that this lifestyle is the right one for me. I am quite proud to be a spinster, however, it isn't necessarily the right choice for everyone.
Maybe on one of those weekends alone that you take you can give some thought whether or not you really want to be single. Think about other periods in your life when you were alone and how you felt then. Were you happy? Did you find that you were often having thoughts about how much nicer it would be to have someone in your life just as now that you do have someone, you are having thoughts about not being in a relationship?
If being a part of a couple is what you truly want and it is a real goal of yours, then it seems to me that perhaps you have managed to find the right guy to do this with. If however when you have given it some serious thought you decide that the solitary life is the one for you, you do need to be honest with this man because if coupledom is what he truly desires, then he should be able to seek it out with some one who feels the same.
To be single or to be partnered are both valid choices that can bring great things into our lives. As with any choice thoughtful consideration is needed to determine which is the right one for each of us as individuals. I hope you are able to find the right choice for you.
And now I put the question out to you. What would your advice to Is Love Enough be?
* and before anyone gets all cranky about it. I do think that in choosing to be single I too have made sacrifices. I am 100% solely responsible for myself. I don't have a fall back should I not be able to pay a bill, have a bad day or not feel like doing the dishes. I will admit that there are certainly practical benefits to being partnered off, however for me, they are just not appealing enough to warrant giving up what I see as the great benefits of being single, the big one being that I am simply happier living this way.