A Word or Two from Linda:
Hello and welcome! My name is Linda Breault.
Since Dianne and I started collecting stories of couples who have challenged the norm, I have become a “voyeur” of relationships. I’ve become fascinated with the ways couples have found ways to keep their relationships dynamic and alive. I’ve observed the not-quite-unhappy conventional marriage, the marriage where couples say, “We are a little bit unhappy in our marriages— but not unhappy enough to get divorced.” I’ve observed the upstairs-downstairs marriage where couples for a variety of reasons, often economic, live in the same house but lead totally separate lives. I’ve noted relationships where the “neediness level” of one of the partners encroaches and smothers the autonomy of the other. I’ve wanted to take a temperature check on the boredom level of some. Amongst my friendships, I’ve celebrated couples who have grown in their love over decades and have carved out a comfortable and loving way of being together. I’ve listened to and read stories of dozens of women and men who have found ways to share their lives with the person they love but, at the same time, not live together.
I’ve married and divorced twice and been in a variety of love relationships over the years. Front wave “Boomer” woman that I am, I’ve been privileged to have spent my early years questioning authority, joining consciousness raising groups, embracing feminism and dropping out of the “mainstream”. Having just turned 70, I, like many divorced and widowed women in my age group, am changing the way I think about aging, retirement and relationships.
A LAT relationship is my ideal. Shortly after moving to Victoria in 2014, I met someone who I anticipated would be a great cycling buddy and friend. He has become much more than that. Our relationships has deepened and we continue to discover ways in which we enjoy each other yet keep our own spaces. We have found a way to strike a balance of independence and togetherness. with each of us keeping our own home. It is a constantly evolving way of being together.
I live in an airy terrace suite in an historic manor house filled with shelves spilling over with books, colourful folk art and mementoes of my travels. Everywhere is colour. I have a wide circle of friends and am actively involved with my community. My partner, a widower, lives twenty minutes away in a country-like setting where a rooster wakes him in the morning and horses graze in the fields across the street. Robert Bateman prints fill his walls and a 70 inch television screen is the centrepiece of his living room. His front window looks out on espaliered apple trees and a well-kept garden Curling, fishing and hiking and his church community are included in his involved life.
We reserve weekends for each other, a mid-week cycle or hike and travel adventures. Daily texts and phone calls allow us to be part of each other's lives. We both agree that we have the best of both worlds. "It's the anticipation of time together always being special. We've found a way to keep the sizzle'" says my LAT partner. There's no doubt that we've found a way to rediscover romance and the excitement of a flourishing relationship.
and from Dianne
Some thoughts about our book..
As an English teacher, I have spent much of my life helping young people refine their thoughts and clarify their expression of those ideas. I believe in the value of words to unpack problems and create consensus. Thus, when Linda approached me to help with this project, my incentive was really about sharing a worthwhile concept with others.
However, as I worked with the writers to prepare their pieces for publication, their stories caused me to reflect on the romantic relationships in my life and to wonder whether some would have run differently if I had had the courage to say, “No, I won’t live with you, but I’ll keep seeing you and will travel and weekend visit with you.” Somehow, I think I would have had a very different middle age.
I was raised to be independent and self-reliant, except where romantic relationships were concerned. I suspect most women my age were conditioned early to anticipate some “domestic cooperation”, but didn’t expect that we would be the ones to compromise the most, to work not only the day job but the child-rearing night shift as well, and then to add on that exhausting partner-pleasing “third shift” as Michele Bolton put it. As young working parents, few of us saw the possibilities of the Living Apart Together model, likely because most of us wanted families, and we couldn’t imagine raising children without live-in partners. Looking back, I wonder if it mightn’t have been a decent solution, and what we could have done differently to afford it!
I see our book as a wake-up call to men and women young and old. If you are young, ask yourself how important it is for you to carve out a space for yourself within your hectic day-to-day schedule. Use that space to do what you would be doing if there were no partner or children. Read, meditate, create, explore…
If you are older and living in a stagnant or tense relationship, ask yourself how rethinking your living arrangements might spark some new perspective or loving insight for each other. Being a diehard optimist, I believe it is never too late to try again, either with a current partner, or with someone new, if the current partner is not receptive.
I have lived my life believing that actions do speak louder than words, but that words can make those actions happen.