This is the question I’ve been chewing on most recently: is a spouse the most valuable relationship one can have? Is this an idea I’ve explicitly heard, or is it something merely insinuated by weddings, along with Hollywood, fairy tales, love songs, advertising, and pretty much all the things apart from experience? I’m pretty sure the answer to my original question is no, but it feels odd to say it.
I find it fascinating that I never kept track of the dates on which I met my oldest, dearest friends. Why are there no cultural traditions for us to celebrate our commitment to each other? One friend, for example, has stuck by me through the many transitions from self-centred-teenager me to serious-relationship me to super-Christian me to the generally confused person I am today. During our university days, she endured squillions of back-to-back 19-minute phone conversations with me (we had to hang up before 20 minutes so we wouldn’t have to pay for the call – THANKS, OPTUS!), and there’ve been countless hours of uninterrupted talking since then. Throughout all of it she’s listened and made me cry-laugh and been (sometimes brutally) honest with me, and I’ve never dreamed of a future without her, which is more than I can say for my husband. Where’s our celebration? She and I had been close for seven years by the time I was married, and we’d known each other for even longer than that, but my two-and-a-half year relationship with Alan was the thing I threw a party for instead.
I love Alan with all my heart, but he’s not my only best friend (I love at least a couple of the others with all my heart, too, as well as my kids). There are things about me Alan understands that no one else ever will, and there are things my girlfriends understand about me that Alan never could. My relationship with him is different to others I enjoy, for sure, but, after mulling over this for the past week or so, I can’t say it’s measurably better than them. Nor can I see why it should be.
I wish there were more ceremonies or rituals that celebrated platonic relationships. I have a terrible feeling we’ve all been duped into thinking it’s only the romantic ones worth paying any attention to.
* Thanks to Sonia Byrnes, another of my oldest and dearest friends, for this photo. I love it.