Day 21. Who’s Lonelier?

I have another WordPress blog — one where I talk about my day job as a writer, marketer and strategist.  About six months ago I wrote about how, just by looking around and being observant, a writer can find inspiration anywhere.  And everywhere.

One of the examples I gave was about a couple, having dinner a couple of tables away, from my then-boyfriend and me.  I spotted them the minute we sat down and I have to confess that I couldn’t take my eyes off them.  I was riveted.  They were married.  And there they were, at a small table for two.  But as intimate as the space they shared was, they might have been in different countries, let alone tables.

They said nothing to each other.  Not once.  Not even when they ordered their meals.  They never looked at each other.  Not once.  Although they were sitting directly opposite each other, they were ‘positioned’ at a slight angle away from each other.  So their bodies were facing in slightly opposite directions.  I’ll bet anything they were totally unaware of it, too.

They didn’t seem angry.  They didn’t seem upset.  There were no red faces, tear-filled eyes, longing looks, frowns,  sneers.  No clenched fists.  No negative body language.  There was no tension.  They just looked like this was their ‘normal’.

That was a dead marriage I was staring at.  Stone, cold, dead.  Not even a tiny spark left.

And all I could think about was, how lonely that must be.  How lonely they must have been.

I’m single.  And I don’t think there’s a single man or woman alive who doesn’t, at some point in their life, at least once, wish they were in a loving relationship.  Regardless of how fabulous a life they might have.  But I have to tell you, I would not exchange one day of my single life for that couple’s.  They could have been the poster couple for lonely.  And miserable.

I must have remembered that particular blog post, because a friend and I went to see Hope Springs yesterday.  The movie, starring Meryl Streep, Tommy Lee Jones and Steve Carell.  I don’t want to give too much of it away, in case you haven’t yet seen it.  Suffice to say, Meryl Streep’s character has been married to Tommy Lee Jones’ character for 30-odd years.  To say the passion has gone out of it, and they’re barely going through the motions, is an understatement.  Steve Carrell’s character is the therapist they go to.

At one point Meryl Streep admits that she’s lonely in her marriage (I’ll say no more about it, because it’s a very good movie and you should go see it).

But it made me think of the incident in the restaurant.  Which has made me think about how many couples are in marriages just like these two.  More than we’d believe, I am sure.  Couples who don’t necessarily fight.  Couples who have stopped communicating, stopped trying, stopped caring.  And no I’m not saying that all marriages are bad.  On the contrary, I know lots and lots and lots of folks who are very happily married.  My parents had a wonderful marriage.  I’m just saying …

To all you single people out there.  If you’re looking at marriage as an escape from being lonely, you might want to give that some more thought.  Create a great, interesting, fulfilling life for yourself.  One you enjoy with or without a mate.   Aside from all the other benefits, it will make you a much more interesting person to live with.

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