Natalie Goldberg, in her book on writing memoir Old Friend From Far Away, writes that “Couples need a third thing – a child, a dog, a house, a business – to gaze upon. Side to side, not face on.” She is referring to couples being very similar to writers, needing a ‘third thing’ to write about.
I can see this is true of writers, but wondered if this was also true about couples. Is it not enough to just be one half of a couple? Sometimes, when life has been too busy, too hectic with kids and family and work and all the circus of the trappings of our lives, sometimes at those times, I’ve longed for couple time. Imagined a time when there would just be the two of us, together. Alone. Alone together.
But yet…this statement from Goldberg made me stop and think. It makes clear: couples, like writers, need a third thing. And I think she might be right. I think of our lives so far, and the third thing that maybe we had or have, did or do, side to side:
Worked hard and had friends, gone to Yoga and Wing Chun, played squash and read books, separately but together. Had a child, lost a mother, had parents divorce in middle-age. Bought and sold houses, had another child, to keep the first company. Built a business, working side to side, sold a business, and did new things. He taught; I wrote. We both raised two daughters. Owned cars, volunteered. Got part-time jobs, reviewed books, had writing published. We both completed degrees as mature students (at different times in different subjects), and ran blogs. Separately.
And side by side, we move onward, onward together, us two but with many third things between us.
Keeping life interesting.