Friends and Lovers

“Before we were married, we were the best of friends,” he says.

I’m watching an indie film, only paying partial attention, and the scene is a husband and wife at the end of their divorce. He wanted out, had an affair to seal the deal, she’s devastated and eventually has an affair of her own, which helps her path toward self-discovery.

As the two part, you can see the ease they have in talking, absent the animosity and even the marriage.

As she leaves the restaurant where they’re meeting briefly, she says to her now ex: “Thank you for ending our marriage… because I wasn’t happy with you, and I would never have ended it myself.”

The film is called “Hello I Must Be Going.” It’s delightful and reflects a variety of relationships – Boomer parents, long married; the young couple I mention (30ish); an older woman-younger man relationship; several deceptive parental relationships.

Kris and Bruce Jenner. Really.

And now to Kris and Bruce Jenner.

Strange segue?

Maybe. Maybe not.

I don’t typically follow the doings of the Kardashians and clan, though it’s virtually impossible to be unaware of their presence, their 10 children between the two families, and their (estimated) $125million “brand.”

News of the separation of Kris and Bruce after 22 years of marriage, confirmed this week, is impossible to miss.

I find myself wondering if there are lessons in this for the rest of us. I find myself confused but not upset – confused because they are best friends apparently, yet they’re happier living apart – at this stage.

Quoting Kris Jenner  as follows, you will understand the heart of both sentiments – confusion and consolation:

“We will always be the best of friends, because that’s the dynamic of our relationship. We definitely get along as a family and with the kids. We’re so connected in that way. We love each other.”

I’m struggling with this. And liking it. And struggling with it.

Great Love – Founded on Friendship?

Is great love founded on friendship? Passion? Trust? Some combination?

Must every love be “great” love? Whether it’s of the poetry-inspiring sort for the short or long-term, don’t we usually assume that if friendship is present, as long as passion doesn’t falter indefinitely, the relationship will endure?

We talk about the importance of a foundation of friendship.

22 years of marriage, blending two families, the shenanigans of a very public life albeit invited by them… If this couple still cares for one another, if they still operate – all of them and extended family – as a close knit family unit, does it matter that they’re happier living a few miles apart? How many of us – after 10 years or 20 years or 40 years with a partner would choose to live next door or around the block if it were an option? Staying friends, occasionally lovers, but having a clearly separate space?

Are the expectations we put on anyone – for monogamy, for maintaining their status as both friends and lovers, for trucking through the years under the same roof – simply too much?

I am also reminded of the articles in various press outlets on Living Apart Together. I mused on this (most recently) about a month back. Do some of us need more space than others? Can we live, love, co-parent, laugh together, play together and give each other space?

A Room of One’s Own… Or a House

How do we know when that space is too great? How do we know when we’re giving just enough and not too much, or for that matter, too little? How much of this equation depends on the complexity of work-family logistics, on growing older, on growing tired of compromises or “wanting to do what you want to do when you want to do it?” –

This doesn’t mean there’s no love for the other person, but it’s as if some balance of time and energy has been tipped and everything changes.

I’m thinking of Bruce Jenner with his Malibu house (and lifestyle), and some apparent need to take that space. Don’t we all need our space?

I’m thinking of friends, friendship, mutual respect, laughter. These qualities are supposed to keep people together, and the Jenners – if we believe what we’re being told in the media – possess these qualities in their relationship and yet they prefer to live apart. Are they living apart – together – in their own way?

At any age or stage, as in the movie “Hello I Must Be Going,” are we saying heartfelt and non-confrontational goodbyes, thank yous, and hellos simultaneously?


Image of Jean-Louis Trintignant and Anouk Aime, Wiki, licensed under CC 1.0, Public Domain via Les Films 13

Image of Jenners, Pasadena, CA, January 5, 2011, BigStockPhoto.