When I left my marriage I was in my late 70’s. For 55 years I’d been one half of a couple. Moving out to live on my own meant adapting to a whole new world as a single woman. What was that like for me? It’s easier to talk about the advantages of being on my own. The disadvantages are more subtle and harder to articulate.
Everyone can understand the freedom of organizing your own space and, indeed, living your whole life just as you want it. There’s the joy of waking in the morning and asking yourself what’s most important today and how to organize the time ahead. The only commitments are those you’ve agreed to. Nobody else is in your space asking for compromise or having other ideas of how you should spend your time.
Then there’s the living space that’s all yours. No need to put up with that ugly chair your partner loves: the one that takes up half the living room. Nor must you tolerate the mammoth oak desk that won’t fit anywhere but the dining room. When you live alone, you get to organize each room just the way you want it.
Bedtime? Getting up time? It’s entirely up to the single occupant of this space. You go to bed when it’s right for you and get up when your circadian rhythms signal you’ve slept long enough. What’s more, you sleep through the night without another body disturbing you. Naturally, you eat what, when you want.
There are many benefits to being single and, as I said, they’re easier to talk about than the downside. Mostly the downside has to do with loneliness. I found this especially uncomfortable when I was travelling alone. At night, the couples staying at my B&B would head for the fancy restaurants or the lively entertainment in the town square. I don’t know about you, but I head for plainer family-type restaurants when I’m alone. The dancing and excitement of the square at night felt unsafe for a single woman.
Then there’s something about male energy being a natural match for female energy. Frankly, I miss male company. I’m not sure whether this is biological in us humans. Maybe it’s social programming. Whatever it is, I miss my husband’s physical male presence. He’s also the one person in the world who can complete my thoughts and who shares with me more than 55 years of experiences and memories – which is not to say – I regret leaving my marriage to live alone. I don’t.
Life is pretty good these days. Harvey and I are friends. We are both living the way we want to. He enjoys gardening and caring for the house we bought together in Kingston. I’m happy as a tenant in an apartment building. Every time I hear workmen out cutting the grass or shoveling the snow, I smile broadly, so happy that I didn’t have to hire them, organize them or pay them. All of that household stuff just gets done. You may remember my post about my “summer cottage.” (That’s the next-door yacht club where I get to eat and swim while somebody else does the work.)
It’s definitely desirable to be good friends following separation. It’s relatively easy for us since neither of us set out to give the other a hard time over financial settlements. In fact, the other day I went over to Harvey’s house to work with him on some financial matters. He cooked dinner for both of us and we ended by watching television and talking the way two old friends share time together. After all, I spent most of my life with him. Why not strive for a harmonious relationship now that we both get to live the way we want to?