Conveniently married or marriage of convenience. When cheating isn't cheating - or is it?
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
Last week I wrote an article about people who are partially-married. Lots of responses came in.
Lisa, a psychotherapist, commented on the proper term to define this group. "I think the term conveniently married or marriage of convenience is the one used when people marry or stay married for reasons other than love."
Lisa's right. Henceforth, when describing this category of people, we'll use her terms.
Among the responses that surprised me was this one: "I wish you would keep this newsletter about dating issues for single people. I really don't care why married people read it. I would never date a 'conveniently married' man. Married is married, no matter the circumstances. I won't even date a separated man--too much baggage, unresolved issues and unfinished business."
Another woman wrote: "I have been divorced for 3 years. The idea of "conveniently married" is unseemly to me. I've met a couple of men whose wives were in nursing homes who just wanted 'dance partners.' That is not my purpose in life.
"I see myself as worthy of starting over with someone special to date and maybe even marry. Call it what you like, cheating is cheating, unfaithful men and unfaithful women are what they are. I'm single and looking for a single man."
Compare those two comments to the next two from people on the marriage-of-convenience side of the fence.
One woman said, "I am 55, have MS and have been separated since 1999. My ex allows me to stay married to get an injection medicine called Rebif (Interferon Beta 1A) that would normally cost $1900.00 per month.
"If I didn't stay married, I'd be in serious trouble--health wise and financially. He lives in Michigan, I live in Arizona. He has his girlfriends and I'm trying to date.
"The problem I experience the most is because I don't look sick, men think I am fooling around on my husband, am unfaithful and can't be trusted. This can't be further from the truth."
Another woman in a marriage-of-convenience wrote: "For the moment, I am still deciding whether to divorce or stay permanently separated because my husband is disabled, but does not qualify for disability because he works and cannot get health insurance except for mine through my job.
"I do, however, have trouble coming to grips with if I stay 'married,' even though only on paper, I would, by definition, be 'cheating' if I were to start dating again. So, do I stay married and 'cheat' or do I divorce my husband and leave him without needed, lifesaving health insurance?
"I'm worried about the future because I'm a very social person and love to travel and have fun. I've never cheated in my married life of 30 years."
The husband of the woman with MS is a humanitarian. Out of the goodness of his heart, he is staying married to benefit his estranged wife. If he dates, or, she dates, are they cheating?
The woman whose husband is disabled is also a humanitarian. Let's hope she stays married to protect her husband. Should she worry about being labeled a cheater?
Let's cut these conveniently married folks a little slack. Shouldn't they have a chance to seek happiness in their lives? Or do we just lump them together and toss them in the "married is married, no matter the circumstances" pile?
What do you think?