Flying Solo

Dear Jewish Fairy Godmother:

I am newly retired and newly single at pretty much the same time. My husband
and I parted amicably, as such things go, because we realized we had very
different ideas about what we wanted to do with our newfound freedom. We
could have stayed together but honestly, after many sessions in counseling and
with one another, we realized that we were more excited about the idea of facing
life alone than together, with the proviso that if either of us really needed help, as
in facing a serious medical crisis, we would ask the other what would be
possible. So if we don’t find the new connections we hope to, there is some faint
hope of getting back together, though probably not legally, once we’ve paid for
the legalities of separation. My friends think I am nuts, especially the ones who
have been single for so long, and I think would love to find a nice guy like my
hubby. Once they know him intimately that might not be true, but for now they’re
talking about having my head examined. How can I explain that after forty years
of togetherness, I am ready to be responsible only for myself?

Flying Solo

Dear Flying Solo:

There’s an interesting knowledge gap in your question. You know far
more about your husband and your marriage than your friends,
regardless of what you’ve said over the decades, and the single ones
know much more about being single than you do. That’s a
conversation worth having, though perhaps not so quickly with a
“friend” who wants to supplant you in the marriage bed.

Being a senior single has its own perils and pleasures. Yes you are not
responsible for another person 24/7, which might be especially
onerous as medical complications increase. But like the great 30 Rock
scene where Alec Baldwin tells Tina Fey she might die choking in her
own home without anyone there to save her, the downsides of alone
are tangible and not always comic. If you are genuinely good buddies
you could suspend the “cleave only unto one another” part of the vows
and take some exploratory down time. But if you are both set on
freedom, then do all the legal niceties and do your best to keep it
amicable. I’ve seen it work, and seen it fail, but good intentions
matter. Tell your friends what you told me: It’s time. I’m happy. So is
he. Wish us well. And then go forth and do whatever it is you’ve been
longing to.