One couple has an open relationship. The wife said her husband could not be there at the event because it was the only weekend when he could visit his girlfriend in another state. When older, more traditional people expressed alarm, she said, "Oh I have several boyfriends." During the event, she kept in touch with him by text messages and voice phone calls, telling him what was going on, and announcing his comments to the group, so that he was in attendance, though not physically present.
I think if I were to be married, I'd want it to be monogamous, although since I don't have anyone to marry at the moment, I think there are a range of kinds of relationships that I would be interested in. So, though I do feel a twinge of envy that there are men who want her, mainly what I see is that this is not what I would want if I were to be married.
In another couple, the man has an illness which severely limits his movement and functioning. His wife was matter of factly attentive to his needs. For example, a mug was passed around and everyone was invited to sip from it. When the mug came to them, she whipped out a straw so that he too would be able to drink from it. But she didn't only attend to practical matters. She also showed little loving gestures, like stroking his hair.
It reminds me of the song "Everyday Things" by Gene and Gayla Mills, which says:
I've heard those love songs, you've heard 'em tooTo me, relationships are about caring for each other in the realities of daily life.
about all the things those lovers would do
They'd climb the high mountain, swim the wide sea
Walk through a fire, even die if need be
Oh, but how many times in the course of our lives
does the need for any of those things arise?
I noticed not only the couple, but also the community that surrounded them. Though disabled, the man is still invited to parties, still welcomed. No one complains about the noise made by the machine he depends on. They just say, "It's always good to see you." If ever I am disabled like that, that is what I hope for: a welcoming circle of friends, a loving caretaker, people who take me places so that I can still participate in life.
And if ever I were married to someone, I would hope he would allow me to meet his needs lovingly, the way this man allowed his wife to do. What I mean is, I don't wish for anyone to be so disabled, but everyone has needs, and I've been with people who did not want to show their needs or accept what I had to offer.
I noticed the third couple during the singalong. The way it works with this group, a person who wants to sing a song just starts the song. The rest of the group sings along the person, but the person leading is responsible for knowing the words to the verses.
A woman started a song, but then started floundering on the words. She looked toward her husband for help. He started singing with her. He just seemed so consistent, so steady. It was like he was holding her, like he would never drop her. That's what I want. Someone I can count on to be there, solid like a rock.