Gransnet forums


Would this irritate you?

(92 Posts)
Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 07:34:58

I have been happily divorced for 32 years. I have had many relationships since then, but I have never come close to giving up my freedom. I married at 18 and stayed married for 20 years. In my day, it was unheard of for a girl to leave home until she got married, so I was 38 when I suddenly realised that there had never been one day of my life when I had been able to go out without telling either my mother or my husband where I was going, with whom, and when I would be back. My husband was not a bad man (if would have been easier to leave him if he had been a womaniser, a drunk, a gambler, or work-shy) but he was very controlling and did not like me to look too attractive. All our holidays were spent doing what he wanted, which was to rent a self-catering cottage or caravan so he could go fishing and boating, leaving me to amuse the two girls and do all my normal chores, except without the conveniences I had at home.

After my divorce, I lost a couple of stones, went blonde, got contact lenses, took a glamorous job abroad which meant I could afford lots of lovely clothes and was unrecognisable from the mumsy school teacher I had been.(Yes, I know there are plenty of glamorous school teachers, but I was not one of them!) When I returned to England, I started going to dining clubs and discos and weekends for single people - I did all the things I should have done in my teens. I had a couple of quite intense relationships but when the man wanted us to move in together, get married, or otherwise become committed I couldn't do it.

I am now living alone in a very beautiful place, able to travel extensively, with no responsibilities and able to do exactly as I like. The thing that irritates me is when well-meaning but totally insensitive friends say 'It is not too late, you could still meet someone - my aunt met her husband when she was 92' or words to that effect. This suggests to me thatthey think I am some desperate, lonely woman who can't find a man. I am also often told 'You must be lonely' when what they mean is that in my circumstances they would be lonely and they can't imagine anyone being difererent from themselves.

I don't know if I would have felt the same had I not married so young and had waited to find a more suitable partner, but I wish people would accept that some of us actually choose to live alone and like it that way!

Carol Tue 15-Nov-11 08:05:10

Greatnan I know exactly what you mean! I lived at home till I married at 24, and was fairly miserable for much of the next 15 years, except for the arrival of my four beautiful children. After many years of hearing the same old script and never seeing any signs of growth or change in my controlling, depressive husband, I found a little house and left him. I completed my degree, got myself a good career and never looked back. My sons and daughters have all left home now and given me five amazing grandchilden, I have retired and got myself a lovely dog. I come and go as I please, take adventurous holidays with friends and relatives, and although I live alone by choice I am not lonely. My cottage is sanctuary and I only have to go down the lane with the dog to meet friendly neighbours if I want to stop for a chat. My grandchildren come to play and bake cookies and bread, walk in the park and talk my socks off. This is the best time of my life.

susiecb Tue 15-Nov-11 09:06:10

Well I'm envious of both of you and if I am ever in that postion I will guard it with my life. I've been married for ever to a lovely man but I cant make a move without he knows about it and mostly we do what he wants us to do which isnt much to be honest. I hope you are both having a wonderful time - your are living my fantasy lifesmile

Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 09:16:17

When I get back from my annual trip to New Zealand, I would be delighted to invite both of you to stay with me - I love showing off my bit of heaven in the Alps.
Fortunately, as I have only one bathroom I am able to tell married friends regretfully that I cannot accommodate the husband as I hate to share a bathroom with a strange man. My flat has offered a bit of freedom to several women friends.

JessM Tue 15-Nov-11 09:17:16

Maybe your friends are envious too...
Just maybe...
Not worth getting irritated - you could ignore, tell them not to make assumptions about you or make a joke of it "Why on earth would I want to share a bathroom with a smelly man?!" or some such. Or you could allude to a string of young lovers that you keep at a distance. Which would make them even more green with envy!

greenmossgiel Tue 15-Nov-11 09:18:20

susiecb, I've been with a lovely man for 41 years after a short but horrible marriage to a foul person when I was really young. I find that what we do is what he wants to do. I love it when he goes to watch motorbike racing, because I'm not expected to go to that! However that's not all that often. He knows my every move too, and although he doesn't actually question me on where I've been I'm very aware that it wouldn't be expected of me to go to the nearest big town by myself and without him. So, yes, Carol and Greatnan, I envy you too! smile

Barrow Tue 15-Nov-11 09:32:27

Yes this would, and does, annoy me. I have only very recently been widowed after a long and happy marriage to a wonderful man and already people are saying to me that I could meet someone else and won't be alone forever.

Firstly, at the moment the thought of someone else taking my husbands place causes me actual pain and secondly I am someone who can be happy with my own company. I have many friends who I meet regularly for lunch and coffee but I don't get worried if I spend a day without seeing any of them.

bagitha Tue 15-Nov-11 09:35:15

I left my first husband because he didn't like me doing things that were "not expected" of me, such as looking attractive in my late thirties and having a mind of my own when I should have simply been an adjunct to him.

Good for you, greatnan, being so independent in spirit and in fact. It is a good example to the irritating fuddy duddies of the world smile.

Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 09:41:04

I suppose that almost everything we do requires some compromise - if you order the steak you can't have the chicken! Just occasionally, when I see my daughter and her adored husband together, I think it might have been nice to have a soul mate, but I am now far too fond of my independence to contemplate sharing the remote!
The men I met when I was on the dating scene, seemed to fall into three categories - widowers who wanted a replacement for the wife who had done everything for them, divorced men who were bitter, and men who had never married and lived with their mother until she died. Oh, and of course there were the usual predatory married men looking for a 'bit on the side'. I did meet one who was not quite perfect but very intelligent, kind and quite attractive, but his adult children were very concerned about their inheritance and I decided I could not cope with their unremitting hostility.

At the age of 58, I decided I was no longer interested, so I retired to a remote part of France and the make-up, contact lenses, hair colouring and glamorous clothes were once again jettisoned, but this time it was by my choice. I spend all the money I save on travel, books, music and gifts to my very large family.

glammanana Tue 15-Nov-11 09:42:29

greatnanhow lovely are you and how envious are your friends they would love to have the lifestyle that you have I think,I too was married young to a very controlling man and it didn't last very long,he also tried to take over where my dad left off but not in the considerate and loving way my dad was.I then married my DH and we have been together now 37 yrs and we have a very relaxed relationship,whilst I do tend to tell him where I go and who I see he never ask's,I have been away on holiday many time's without him and go with friends at short notice if a bargain holiday pops up,I like my own company and can spend a day on my own out and about without my mobile going asking where I am,I do tend to find it is my DCs who ask "where is mum" they always want to know what I am doing.The man I was first married to still live's in the same area has remarried yrs ago and i look at his wife when I see her and have to think "there but for the grace of God go I"

gracesmum Tue 15-Nov-11 09:50:17

I am beginning to think people should not comment in your choice of life style at all! Maybe it is jealousy as you seem to have taken such positive steps greatnan and deserve the life you are enjoying, or maybe it is just short-sightedness as they are unable to look beyond their own, often narrow, lives. At the very least, it is tactless to someone who has recently been bereaved and frankly impertinent. I have divorced or widowed friends who are very attractive to men and some would not go down that road again for all the proverbial tea and some are desperately filling their lives with singles' clubs. A chacun son gout.
It is a very attractive prospect to be in charge of yur own life and many of us if not all, would agree that being happily married can often lapse into feeling joind at the hip. Some women love it others (me) like a bit of space in their lives.We are no longer subservient Stepford wives - Greatnan all power to your elbow!! And rereading your post, I too am jealous of what you have achieved - but I hope, in a nice way !!!smile

em Tue 15-Nov-11 10:12:16

Greatnan I'm right with you. Happily divorced and independent, though living in a rather less exciting place. I've had the chance to remarry and simply don't want to. I am free to come and go as I please and have been told that sounds a bit selfish. Why? I'm answerable to no-one and am able to help my family with time or cash, without having to explain or justify what I do. I feel for a few married friends who are not happy but would not suggest that they just up and leave. It's their business and I don't know enough about the situation to judge. If however, any one of them decided that was the way to go, I'd give her all the support I could. I don't underestimate how big a step it is and some choose to stay in the security of a poor marriage rather than risk going it alone.

Carol Tue 15-Nov-11 10:18:44

Let's just celebrate that many women are in much more control of their own destiny now. Some of us love living singly by choice and others have made their relationships work well for them, so they also have room to breathe. When I was married, I tried hard to create that space for myself, but his jealousy about my ability to cope without him, and depression about his own inability to get out of his rut, killed any affection I had for him - his loss, not mine. He now lives with a woman who complains about his attitude and behaviour, but she chooses to stay around (he's a wealthy man - miaow). She's welcome to him!

Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 10:23:15

I have met many widows and divorced women who say they simply cannot live without a partner and often go on to marry somebody completely unsuitable. I found it far lonelier to be married to a man who bored me to death than to be single.
I have also been told I must be selfish to want to live alone and I hold up my hands and plead guilty. I really don't want an old man in my life and I certainly don't want a toy boy. If I want to spend time with my children, or give them good presents, there is nobody to stop me.
Just to digress, I have friends who are childless by choice, and they also get told they are selfish - I cannot understand whom they are supposed to be hurting - surely it would be far more selfish to have children if they were not totally committed to motherhood. I think getting married, having children, or taking the veil are things you should do only if not doing them is unthinkable!

jingle Tue 15-Nov-11 10:24:14

Glamma - sounds good to me. smile

Gally Tue 15-Nov-11 10:25:05

susieb - I think you must be married to Mr.G. grin

jingle Tue 15-Nov-11 10:28:57

I've definitely got a need to be in a comfortable, long lasting relationship relationship.

To be honest I think it's best for the whole family as well.

But I do realise it would probably impossible to stay with someone if you have made a big mistake marrying him.

jingle Tue 15-Nov-11 10:29:28

sorry about the extra relationship! shock

Annobel Tue 15-Nov-11 10:39:47

An 'extra relationship' sounds like a good idea, jingle. smile

jingle Tue 15-Nov-11 10:52:15

I was waiting for that! grin

absentgrana Tue 15-Nov-11 10:53:34

I suspect that most of us unthinkingly assume that our own way of life, the choices we have made and the things we do are the norm, especially if they are more or less in tune with the lives of our friends and acquaintances. Of course, if we thought about it we would recognise that lots of other people have completely different lifestyles, have made different choices and do different things. Presumably, it's because we don't think about it that meeting someone who is different from us comes as a surprise (every time) and then out pops the stupid comment or silly question.

The suggestion that someone is selfish because she doesn't have a long-term or any partner is just nonsense. Maybe the woman suggesting it defines herself by the man in her life – many women still do this – and any man is better than none. Maybe she's a "wife as household appliance" and resents others whose lives don't revolve around someone else's requirements. Maybe she cannot cope with a lively, active and attractive woman who simply doesn't want a man in her life and this undermines her sense of self. Maybe she simply doesn't think.

Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 10:57:58

Jingle, I fully accept your need to be with a partner - I just wish people would accept that we don't all have the same needs and my first need is for freedom.
You say it is best for the whole family - I am not sure what your evidence is for this. MY daughters said they were much happier after the divorce as things had got very tense in the house. Their father accused the older girl of having 'put me up to it' - he actually started to hit her when she got old enough to beat him in rational argument. That sealed his fate, as far as I was concerned - I would never put up with violence of any kind, for myself or my girls.
I was amused when my cleaner told me her husband had forbidden her to work for me anymore, because she might get 'ideas'. Apparently, divorce is infectious - he was partially right, as my sister got the courage to leave her horrible husband after she saw how happy I was.

jingle Tue 15-Nov-11 11:02:03

Just accept the fact that you are happy Greatnan. You don't need anyone else to back you up in your chosen lifestyle, do you?

The family thing is just how I feel. No evidence whatsoever. smile

Greatnan Tue 15-Nov-11 11:19:06

No, I don't need anyone else's approval for my lifestyle, Jingle, and I don't think I implied that I did. I said I found such stupid comments irritating - the way I find midges irritating! The only people whose opinions matter to me are my daughters and their children.
I think it is important not to make women feel guilty about divorce as living with unhappy parents can be a lot worse than living with one very happy parent and visiting the other. Not that my girls visited their father much, as he remarried after a year of saying he could not live without me, meeting them outside school, drunk and threatening suicide. His second wife was very jealous and made it very difficult for him to see the girls and after a couple of years he just stopped contacting them. His loss.

jingle Tue 15-Nov-11 11:47:12