I had coffee with a friend today, in the middle of the afternoon, just because I could. I actually stuck with tea, but still … it’s the spirit of the seeing a friend, not the actual beverage that counts.

My pal is an old college chum from one of my 30-something returns to college pursuits. A few years ago she divorced her husband after forgiving his wandering eye (and rest of his body) through an extramarital affair and then having the good sense and vengeful spirit to toss his crap out onto the lawn when she found out about his second affair just a year later. After a weirdly complicated divorce, she is in a better place and moving forward with her life. Thankfully there were no children involved.

In the last 6 months or so she began dating someone she described after meeting and their first date as a really nice, caring guy. Now I have absolutely nothing against really nice, caring guys – I myself am married to one, have a son and future son-in-law that could be described that way, and legions of male friends I would use the same descriptive terms for – but something about the way she said it and then repeated it after their first couple of dates struck me as “passionless and boring” instead of interesting and intriguing. I did ask a few questions, to which she responded that it was still new and they were getting to know one another, etc. Perfectly acceptable responses; I am not the type to pry and demand the intimate details of their dates and evolving relationship. I listen if she wants to share, but apparently there was little to talk about at that point. Other than he was nice and had a great year-old lab puppy.

Months have passed and between our sporadic get togethers, phone calls, emails, and texts, I gathered that she has continued to see him and the pup and he remains and caring, nice guy with a big heart … that’s something. However, she went to Spain and to Greece for business and vacation and sounded more animated and excited about people she met in her travels than she ever does about the beau here at home. Finally today she admitted she finds time spent with his dog more exciting than with him. OUCH! It’s not that he’s unpleasant or anything like that; he’s just not terribly interesting to her and she is not sure what to do about it.

Personally, I think 6 months is plenty of time to decide if someone makes your world brighter or is just part of the day-to-day scenery we hardly notice much less truly see. And life is too short to be sort of “meh” about a romantic relationship. But I have been married for what seems like eternity and have no recent dating experience. She is happy enough, but she would be about the same level of happy without the beau as a beau. She admits to probably missing the dog if she breaks it off. And she feels truly awful for characterizing the relationship that way.

So we started talking passion and sex and what it’s supposed to be like at her age (45) and my age (54). Reader’s digest version: if your intimate life is unsatisfactory when you are involved, either talk about it and find ways to enhance it or gently extricate yourself from the relationship and find someone else. I might have different thoughts and ideas if they were married and in that honeymoon is over and passion has faded to we are roommates who sleep in the same bed situation.

I guess I am a bit of a pragmatist who feels pursuit of personal happiness is important. My pal is secure enough to be happy on her own, yet hopeful enough to want to meet and have someone special in her life. It does not sound like caring and nice guy is fitting the specialness bill after this much time together. I actually feel sad for the guy, but cutting him loose gives him opportunity to find a woman who thinks he’s encompasses all the stars in her sky.

Or so goes life according to me. I am quite sure there are lots of differences of opinion out there.

The conversation got me thinking about happiness and what it means to me. M makes me happy, and I think he is glad I said yes when he finally got around to asking me to marry him. When it all fell apart, we had to start from scratch and rebuild our relationship. It taught both of us a lot about what we love about the other and ourselves, what we each have invested in our relationship and what it takes to make a marriage work. We love each other, sure, but in so many real and tangible ways we’re absolutely besotted with each other.

We are happy, happier, happiest … depending on the day. And it seems to me that is as it should be. Our future as a couple looks and feels bright.

Are there days when I want to gag him or smother him with a pillow? Oh GAWD yes! But the impulse passes and cooler heads prevail. Sometimes I wish he would just agree with my opinions or always let me have my way, but then I realize I might be speaking of him in the same ways my friend speaks of her beau and his dog.

Our wedding anniversary is coming up next weekend, and as is typical for us, we have no particular plans. We are pretty low-key about celebrating our birthdays and anniversaries, but it’s also Valentine’s Day so we get to see celebrations all around us with the displays of anniversary candy, flowers, stuffed animals, and balloons. In my heart I am glad we stuck it out, slugged it out in marital counseling, stuck together through the years, love and support one another, created an amazing family of people we love and adore and who are part of support system and cheer squad. I never expected to be so blessed and so fortunate and sometimes still cannot believe I have the life I am living.

So while I personally feel a little shakey and rattled these days, it’s not because of M or anything he is or is not doing in our life together. My kids remain awesome, and my friends are simply stellar. Even in my sad times of loss and the grief that accompanies it, I am happy.

I am the lucky one. In the midst of the negativity and anger and heartbreak I read about almost daily, I have a good life.

I need to keep my eye on that, remember it, use it to stay the course. Because many are not so fortunate.

One thought on “Happy, happier, happiest

  1. Happiness is a illusive feeling to many people. And you are right many people never find happiness because of one thing or another. Yet I can honestly say that I am once again at a point in my life where I am happy..most days. And I am glad you are to since happiness is contagious. I hope that your friend knows that she can be happy by herself and traveling seems to make her happy. Plus she can always adopt another dog. But staying with someone who doesn’t make you happy is just not worth it.

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