Split Aparts

I’ve always envied those couples who say they’ve never spent a night apart during their marriage.  It seems so romantic, particularly in this modern world, to be able to return to each other’s side every night no matter where the day has taken you.

Sadly, Jim and I certainly will never achieve that goal.  We’ve spent many a night apart, not necessarily by choice, but simply by circumstance.  For many years, his job required him to travel, sometimes for weeks at a time.  And when I became more heavily involved in musical groups, I often traveled for outstate performances or festivals.   So over the years, we grew somewhat accustomed to being apart.

I say somewhat, because no matter how many times we were separated, we always felt a rather disconcerting sense of emptiness – a strange disconnect with ourselves.  There’s an old legend about lovers, something about each person having another part of themselves that somehow splinters away during birth.  The story goes that we are then constantly searching for our true love, the one person who is actually our cosmic “split apart.”

Whether that’s true of us or not, there is a very definite sense of emptiness about life when we’re apart, a kind of cold space (like they say ghosts inhabit) when we’re living in different places.  There’s no one to snuggle on the couch and watch reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond  with me, no one to kill the centipedes that pop up occasionally in the bathtub, no one whistling incessantly while they’re shaving, no one to sympathize with me when my boss is micromanaging things.  And while we may not always be consciously aware of it, we’ve both noticed that life is simply more stressful without the familiar presence of our mate to act as a buffer against life ‘s vicissitudes.

Fortunately, in the past few years our separate traveling has diminished considerably.  Last month when we went to Florida, I had to travel a day early, and that was the first night we had spent apart in – well, probably a year. 

But I’ve been remembering those other times because my son and daughter in law may soon be separated for a while, the first real separation since the years of their courtship when they lived in opposite hemispheres.  They’re a close couple in nearly every way, both homebodies who like to spend most of their time together.  Brian works at home too,  with Nantana a quiet, comfortable presence in the house during the day.  Certainly internet phones and email make long distance relationships easier than in the “old days,” when we had to rely on land line telephones with exorbitant charges for long distance.  But they can’t replace the physical companionship you become accustomed to when you share life with someone.  So I suspect if they do end up spending this rather significant period of time apart, they will feel a definite void in their daily life and routine, not to mention in their hearts.  

Of course, there are benefits to missing someone. I can’t deny the truth of that old adage…absence does make the heart grow fonder.  You tend to appreciate someone more when you’re deprived of their presence for a certain amount of time, and all those little irritating habits (like the aforementioned incessant whistling) become quite endearing when you haven’t suffered through  experienced them for a while.  The reunion is always sweet, and it’s fun to enjoy that honeymoon like feeling again, fun to recapture that sense of wonder you felt in the early days of your relationship when being together was like the greatest gift in the world. 

But, remember the part of the marriage ceremony (at least the traditional one) where the minister says, “what God has joined together, let no man put asunder?”   That’s a powerful invocation to the notion of split aparts, isn’t it?  Finally reunited with that perfect other half, it seems such a shame to put asunder that perfect whole, to split apart for even a few cosmic moments.  And so when I think of all the days and nights Jim and I have spent apart, I wonder if I’ll someday regret them, count them as a huge loss in the grand scheme of our time together? 

The strength of a relationship comes from the accumulation of experiences, good and bad.  But life is defintely easier when both halves of the whole are one, when the ragged edges of daily life are smoothed by the presence of that one person who best knows how to make the pieces fit. 



10 thoughts on “Split Aparts

  1. There are so many circumstances that result in brief separations and, like you, my husband and I have faced several of them. I really dislike those times, but they always serve to renew my resolve to make the most of the many days we are together.

    While it may not be possible to avoid some of the physical separations, there is a lot I have found that I can do to assure that I’m more “present” when we are together. When I look back, I feel that I’ll regret the times I let things slide when we were together more than those times when circumstances brought brief physical separations.

    From the outside looking in, B&N really seem to have their act together and I’m sure they will weather this well (especially with happy thoughts on the horizon to sustain them).

  2. I spent 13yrs without a male in my life so when Dave is away I love it. I adore my husband and we are rarely apart but I enjoy my alone time. I don’t mean while he’s at work but out of town.

    Absence does make the heart grow fonder plus you get the whole bed. 😉 XXOO

  3. Interesting thoughts on ‘split-aparts’ Dana … FP & I have had our share and I much prefer togetherness, although the occassional solo sojourn can provide a quiet reflectiveness that is good for the soul. xx, JP/deb

  4. I can’t bear to be apart from Z. He used to travel back to his country every other year at the beginning of our relationship. (I was always invited, but as a working student, I could never go with him).
    It was always 6 weeks of misery for me.
    It’s now 17 years later and I still miss him when he leaves.

  5. “…when the ragged edges of daily life are smoothed by the presence of that one person who best knows how to make the pieces fit.”

    That is so true. I always felt a little off my game when my husband and I were apart. I’m glad that he doesn’t have to travel anymore. He definitely smooths the ragged edges of life for me. Thoughtful post.

  6. My husband has spent long stretches of our 20-year marriage working from home, and I’ve often longed for time at home to myself. Recently, though, he’s had to travel occasionally for a week or two at a time, and I can’t believe how much I miss him. It’s as if, without being aware of it at all, our lives have truly become inextricably knit together. It’s a mystery, and a wonder.

    BTW, if you are interested in writing about a book you’re currently reading, I tagged you for a [very easy] meme today.

  7. “I’ve always envied those couples who say they’ve never spent a night apart during their marriage.” Me too!

    I’ve been married just two years. The first year, my husband traveled via air almost every week for work. The second year he has worked just a train-ride away from home and came home every night. Both years have taught us a lot, though, and I like the point you make that “absence makes the heart grow fonder” and can sometime help too.

  8. I really found my one and then I lost her and since then (almost 10 years) I’ve been with my mother. My kids are grown and living in florida so I really don’t have anyone to share her with. Thanks for my chance to share.

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