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Views on vows and marriage

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter July 21, 2017

As we age, we think about romantic relationships often. This week, I received emails from two Champs, Lynne and Yoko. What they said made me think about the curious choices we sometimes make in selecting a mate. Views on Vows and Marriage Champ Lynne emailed, “I love getting your newsletter, it is very informative. It's so nice to know I'm not alone in this situation. You also give a man's thoughts and that’s so valuable to me. Very few men talk about women in positive ways! “A recent newsletter prompted me to contact someone I knew over 25 years ago, he was nice when I called, but has not answered my email afterwards. “I am looking for a best friend and companion. I had one for 20 years and lost him five years ago. The best thing about him was he let me know I was important to him, he talked to me and listened to me and held my hand and put his arm around me to show his feelings. I was delighted! “We were not married due to religious vows to previous spouses, but we held hands and made commitments to each other anyway. I will never forget him!” Tom’s response to Lynne:

It was good that you contacted the man you knew 25 years ago. He may not respond to your emails because he might be involved with someone else, or might not have a computer, or just doesn’t want to get involved. That’s ok. You made the effort. At least you know that he knows you would be interested. That is all you can do regarding him at this point. From time to time, send him a follow up email unless he continues to be non-responsive, but don’t bug him. Not every single man a woman meets later in life is going to become a potential mate. Your sentence regarding the 20-year boyfriend, “The best thing about him was he let me know I was important to him, he talked to me and listened to me and held my hand and put his arm around me to show his feelings,” is a beautiful description of love and what a relationship should include. That you did not marry isn’t significant. You had 20 great years together. But, I am curious, however, if you don’t mind me asking. Were the religious vows just personal vows or were they rules or restrictions of the religion you belonged to? It is admirable that, even though you were together for 20 years and likely loved each other, and perhaps wanted to marry, each of you honored those vows. At any point, did you discuss with him asking for forgiveness of those vows from your earlier years so that you could have new vows with each other? As for now, don’t give up looking for a friend and companion. Keep trying. You just never know, and getting out with new people is the best way to do that. Just curious again, if you find someone, and he wants a committed relationship or even a marriage, will you still cling to the vows from the earlier spouse and risk the possibility of losing the new guy because you are tied to those vows? ------------------------------------------ More on arranged marriages vs. “marriage for love” from Champ Yoko Yoko emailed, “On arranged marriages (since I grew up in Japan): There is a saying that a person can learn to love almost anyone if they really try hard enough. “In Japan, for many years, arranged marriages were common and the divorce rate was low. The reason for this is the couple may not have married for love, but they respected each other and many grew to love each other dearly. “Also, there was the support of society and your peers to make the marriage work. If you think about it, each of us is probably the worst person to pick a life partner for us because we are swayed by chemistry, sex, physical attraction, money, etc. Hence, the extremely high divorce rate in the USA. “Our parents, on the other hand, have known us all of our life and would choose a mate who is best suited and most compatible with us. “With all the different computer dating websites, matchmaker companies and other various social endeavors, I still think having our good friends setting us up with a date is one of the best ways to meet a potential partner. “Why? Because our good friends know us better than any matchmaking website/company, etc. will ever know us, no matter how many hundreds of questions and questionnaires they require us to answer. “BTW, since Japan has become more "Westernized" and more people are marrying for "love," the divorce rate has skyrocketed. Hmmm......maybe that isn't progress?” Response to Yoko from Tom: Very interesting observation. I agree that networking--meeting new people through friends--is one of the best ways to meet potential partners. I think what you are you saying is that chemistry, sex, physical attraction, and money are not the most important pillars for a lasting marriage.

Black Western Tiger Swallow butterfly

A beautiful potential mate doesn't mean he or she will be a good match. The person might some day just fly away, like this Black Western Tiger Swallow butterfly did after I saw it in my backyard.

I admit that these factors should slide down the list of characteristics one seeks in a mate and rank lower than characteristics such as friendship, education, kindness toward each other, consideration and treating each other well and with dignity and respect, which should be at the top of the list. In looking back, there is no doubt that my choices in two marriages were based too much on physical attraction and I paid the price for that (divorce). But I do think that chemistry, sex, physical attraction, and to a lesser degree money, still need to be in the mix. But just not at the top of the characteristics-wanted list. Keep those cards and letters coming.

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