Saturday 21 January 2017

Mary Kenny: The platonic remarriage

When sex goes out of a relationship, so does toxicity

Published 28/08/2016 | 02:30

Mary Kenny
Mary Kenny

'Yes," he says, "I am married, but sort of re-married, in a manner of speaking." He was a man in his 60s and he explained that he and his wife had been married, first, in their 20s. They'd had two children, but the marriage was turbulent and became hopelessly adversarial. So, in their middle 40s, they separated. They didn't get divorced because neither of them was looking to marry anyone else. Also, the husband had religious feelings and didn't want to embark on a divorce unless his wife demanded it, which she didn't.

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"So, for over 18 years, we lived apart. Lived in different parts of the country. Exchanged Christmas cards and the odd phone call. Reasonably amicable about the children." And then, in their 60s, they met up again, found they weren't quarrelling anymore. His wife said she'd be glad to come back to share his life again. But on one condition: the relationship would be platonic. They would live together as friends. No sexual dimension.

He agreed. And so they settled down together again in domestic harmony, if not bliss. "It's astonishing," he observes. "When sex goes out of a relationship, it is just so much more peaceful. So much less toxic." The battles and turbulence of yesteryear were all spent and they were now in the calmer waters of platonic companionship, doing lots of bridge and gardening.

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