A few months ago, a girlfriend and I started talking about relationships -- surprise, surprise -- and we realized that both of us had been in a relationship for more than a decade. We noted that, although divorce groups and singles’ groups exist, there aren’t many -- or any -- groups that support people in very-long-term relationships.
So we started one.
It’s called The Long Haul Forum and we have only met once, but plan to meet a few times a year. My friend and I invited 12 women, all of whom have been in a relationship for at least a decade. A part of me thought women would find this scary or too touchy-feely or just not worth their time, but every single woman responded to the invite with enthusiasm. In fact, 11 of the 12 women showed up, and the only reason the one didn’t make it was because her babysitter bailed.
The challenging part was finding the right location. A public space -- like a bar -- didn’t seem private enough, and we didn’t want to hold the gathering in our home because having a spouse and / or kids hanging around would obviously affect the depth of conversation.
However, the purpose of the forum was not to bitch or vent, rather to thoughtfully and honestly discuss issues that affect committed couples -- in our case, all of whom have children -- and to try to make sense of the issues. At the very least, we hoped we would realize we were not alone in some of our thoughts.
We started the session with an agreement that anything said inside the circle would not be repeated. Ever. To anyone. Of course, sharing personal information is always a leap of faith, even when you trust everyone.
The group was pretty open and many of the women shared their joys and challenges of long-term partnership. I pre-wrote about 10 questions, all of them very direct, and because the conversations were so charged, we only got to about half of them. We quickly realized that The Long Haul Forum was not a place for polite exchang…Read more...