Spaces in the Togetherness of Marriage


Kahlil Gibran

Kahlil Gibran

“Let there be spaces in your togetherness.” When my husband and I married in 1975, we included the famous quote from Kahlil Gibran in the service at our SoHo loft, and we’ve abided by that principle ever since. In my last post I mentioned that we’ve rarely been apart for even a week in our nearly forty years together until the three-week motorcycle trip he embarked on in June. To my enormous relief, he returned safe and sound late on July 4th, just in time for the last of the fireworks over Snyders Lake where we live, and soon it was as if he’d never been away. 

In fact, we grant each other a great deal of space, even when we’re home together. We’re both writers, and we respect each other’s need for alone time. And though we share many interests, we give ourselves permission to go off on our own tangents individually. His motorcycle trip is a perfect example: if I had my druthers, he wouldn’t have done it, but I knew it was important to him and I respect his right to follow his bliss, as he respects my right to pursue mine. 

While he was away, I indulged in lots of my favorite pastimes. Nothing I wouldn’t do if he were here; just more of everything. Concerts, open mics, movies, gardening – whatever captured my fancy. And I resolved not to feel guilty about it. I’d had visions of hunkering down at home, writing up a storm, exercising, eating healthier, all that good stuff, but I’m afraid it didn’t happen. I cut myself a lot of slack, and why not? I don’t want to consign my pleasures to some distant bucket list. 

Concerts are a prime example. I love rock and country music. He doesn’t, for the most part, and I’ve given up asking him to go unless it’s

Tom Petty

Tom Petty

something I’m pretty sure he’ll enjoy, including classical or avant garde programs. I dragged him to the Saratoga Performing Arts Center several years back. We’d spent the afternoon at the track, and I was about to place a bet for the ninth race when a man called out, “Anyone want a pair of lawn tickets for the Police and Elvis Costello at SPAC tonight?” 

“I might,” I said. “Let me go ask my husband.” Then I decided what the hell – I’d just go ahead and buy them and present him with a fait accompli. He was gracious about it, but while I thought the concert was fabulous, he absolutely hated it – the traffic jam that made us late, the volume level, the crowd jammed together on the lawn, the darkness that made it impossible to see where we were going. He vowed never to go back to SPAC, and he never has. While he was away, I went twice, and to several other concerts as well:

  • ·         Rascal Flatts and The Band Perry at SPAC (great show – I went with my friend Linda, but I went to all the other concerts solo)
  • ·         Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, with the Wallflowers opening. (Love that Jacob Dylan)
  • ·         The Zombies at the Empire State Plaza (the British Invasion band from the Sixties – remember “Time of the Season” and “She’s Not There?” Not many in the audience did, but it was a good crowd, since it was a freebie.)
  • ·         George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelics (known as the godfather of hip hop, he puts on a great show with an infectious groove. Another freebie, Alive at Five alongside the Hudson River, it drew a mammoth audience.)
  • ·         Old Songs Festival at the Altamont Fair Grounds (I’ve got friends who love this annual folkie event. This was the first time I’ve checked it out, and I’ll definitely return.) 

These were all outdoors, and amazingly, the rain held off for all of them, despite the many downpours we’ve been having. I hope my luck will hold for Country Fest on July 13th.

As for movies, I saw four of the summer blockbuster variety, and I’ve got a couple more on my list. My husband’s movie tastes and mine overlap, and we often go together, but we’re at opposite poles when it comes to certain genres. He avoids romantic films, musical biopics, and gloomy indies about fun topics like Alzheimer’s and cancer; I avoid ultraviolent crime flicks unless they have redeeming cinematic qualities or actors I think are hot. 

Friends are often amazed when I tell them I go to concerts or films alone, but why not? I pity people who feel the need to pair up or herd together in groups to enjoy cultural or quasi-cultural events. I’m better able to immerse myself in the experience when I’m not worrying about whether the person next to me thinks it’s a waste of time, money or both. 


Melissa McCarthy with 2011 Emmy

Melissa McCarthy with 2011 Emmy

Being accountable to no one is one of the perks of retirement, and so is spontaneity. Case in point: the swimsuit shopping expedition I mentioned last time. It was even worse than I feared. Those fluorescent-lit three-way mirrors in Macy’s dressing rooms are brutal, and I got so disheartened that I decided to abandon my search and go to the early showing of The Heat, starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. I’m not nearly as fat as Melissa, and she’s fabulous onscreen. Judging by all the laughter, I’m sure the overweight women wedged in on either side of me thought so too. 

A couple of days later at Boscov’s, I found a swimsuit I actually found flattering, and yesterday, when I wore it for the first time, bless his heart, he told me I look good in it. Then I ambled down the street to the boat launch and jumped in the lake – something else he’ll never do, because he thinks the lake’s too dirty and too dangerous because of the boats. But thanks to his motorcycling, he’s forfeited the right to tell me what’s too dangerous. Last night I ushered for Lyle Lovett at The Egg – something else he wouldn’t have liked. 

He wants to see The Lone Ranger tonight, because that was his favorite boyhood superhero. The movie got horrible reviews and is reportedly ultraviolent, but I guess I can indulge him and go. With Johnny Depp as a scantily clad Tonto with a dead crow on his head, how bad can it be?


Johnny "Tonto" Depp with Silver

Johnny “Tonto” Depp with Silver



4 thoughts on “Spaces in the Togetherness of Marriage

  1. julie, how wonderfully positve, and inspiring you are! love the most recent piece about embracing your solo time while hubby was on his bike trip! the only thing i am not comfortable with solo is hitting a movie…dining, no problem, i bring good reading material, and leave a REALLY good tip for overstaying my visit there,..e-me if you think you may like to join up with us on a visit to the farm mentioned on FB. of, course, a nice place to go “solo” if need be….but the more the merrier, too !

  2. Hi Julie,

    Your opening “Let there be spaces in your togetherness” makes so much sense. I liked reading about your and your husband’s differing tastes and the way you give each other space. We too give each other space in our togetherness. We love to go to plays, some classical concerts, and opera live from the Met in HD together. He likes to play piano and play trombone in the local community band and sing in Ulster Choral Society. Sometimes I go to his concerts but not always. We both like classical music. Each of us has a room of our own for our computers, desks, books, files, and stuff. We come together for meals and are a good team doing the tasks that need doing around the house and yard. And we have our together bedroom. I’ve never heard of the musicians you like but then again I am not into rock or country music. I guess Bill and I are more with your husband re our musical tastes. Re: SPAC. We’ve been to SPAC a number of times but not to the kinds of concerts you like. There is a big variety of music and dance and opera presented at SPAC. We’ll be going to one of the dance performances in July or August.

    Viva la difference in people’s tastes! And bravo for the spaces in our togetherness.

  3. Thanks, Therese and Betsy for your comments. I know you’ve both been married for years – Betsy for longer than me – so we must all be doing something right. And/or we’re all very lucky.

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