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December 16, 2008

Finding Yourself in Your 40's

Finding Yourself in Your 40's.

By Sarah

I turn 46 this week, but that, really, has nothing to do with this blog. It's just another odd coincidence about my recent trip to New York City in which, in the course of five hours, I engaged in deep Magnet discussions with two strangers - both women - who were planning to leave their husbands, having found themselves in their forties and decided to lose whatever that was in their fifties.

"You're a magnet," said the 50-something woman who was waiting with me for dinner in our New York hotel. "You're attracting women like us for a reason." I figured maybe it had something to do with the fresh pack of Trident gum in my purse.

We'd been drowned like rats in a torrential downpour and all we wanted was hot bean soup and a warm bed. But, somehow, we ended up talking to each other. And though she was from Colorado and I from Vermont, we eventually learned that her older sister knew, possibly dated, my husband Charlie in Cleveland. Such is the nature of Cleveland.

The secret pleasures She was in New York for a "Mama Gena" conference that I mistakenly associated with a Papa Gino, the pizzeria franchise, until she set me straight. No. Mama Gena was a women's empowerment moment and she was attending to hear Christiane Northrup, author of The Secret Pleasures of Menopause, a book she happened to be holding while waiting for her soup. Look, in a million years I would not go carrying around a book about the pleasure of menopause. Then again, I wasn't enthralled, as she clearly was.

She so reminded me of the other woman I'd met on the train down, a vibrant blond public servant who was headed to New York to visit friends and who was pretty sure she was going to leave her demanding, controlling husband ASAP. Having whipped herself into shape in the past couple of years, she was running marathons and exercising her newfound strength while her husband remained at home, griping. He was, in short, a drag.

"I'm sick of not being happy every day," she told me. "I want to come home and be greeted by a smile, instead of a complaint."

Ooookay. The thing is, I totally understood this. Recently, in my casual group of 50-something girlfriends, three have recently left their husbands for similar reasons. Two others found out their husbands were having affairs while another is getting remarried after her own husband met his soul mate on a hospital psych ward. Life is stranger than fiction.

It's as if once the kids are grown and out of the house, women feel like they can drop the facade of the concerned soccer mom, get on that motorcycle and let it all hang out. Some might claim this is the Motorcycle classic midlife crisis, but my friends would balk. According to them, they've tolerated men who were boring/verbally abusive/alcoholic and they got sick of it. Nor is it the upswing and down swing of emotions caused by menopause. Just because they're throwing off the covers at night does not mean they're nuts. In fact, if you talk to them, they're free at last.

The problem is they've left behind a few clueless men. Just the other day, while I was deep on deadline, my hair in a ponytail and sneakers on my feet, I was trying to avoid human contact at the local grocery store when the husband - or, rather, new ex husband - of one of my friends cornered me in frozen foods.

"You don't have to go the other way," he said, pain etched on his face. "I'm not pariah."

Of course he wasn't pariah. In fact, he was a very nice guy. The kind of guy who assumed that life after  Great horned owl the kids left would be easy. Early, quiet dinners with low cholesterol food. Perhaps reading books by the fire afterward. A movie on Saturday nights followed by a stint of weekly sex. Dogs. Bird feeders. Lectures at the nature center detailing the nesting habits of Great Horned Owls. Discussions about the New York Times op-ed pieces. The occasional brunch and glorious Sunday nap.

But my friend, his ex wife, didn't want that. She wanted to dance and travel and feel crazy sexy again. Hence the disconnect.

So what's the answer? As the population ages and lifestyles improve, will women automatically seek their "second lives" after their childbearing years? Not me. I have to say, that the brunch and bird feeders and dogs hold great appeal. As do, I must admit, that glorious Sunday nap.

What say you?



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Happy Birthday Sarah!

And guess what? Charlie's birthday is this week too - they're on the same day. Which is very cool.

I'd love to follow up with these adventure-seeking women a year from now. I haven't been 'out there' for a long time, but my single friends tell me it's not exactly a wonderland of choices.

Hey - if you are being abused in any way - get the hell out. Otherwise, as the great Erma Bombeck used to say, 'the grass is always greener over the septic tank'. Just sayin'.

Although his MS has made DH older than his 55 years. I am content, happy, and still in love with him. Wild and crazy times for me? No, thank you. I had more than enough wild and crazy in my younger years.


Yes, happy birthday! Was your weekend in New York a celebration?

Really interesting blog, but I must confess it doesn't resonate with me. As time passes I feel more committed to my marriage, not less, and I'm pretty sure my husband would say the same thing.

I have to agree with Michele. I'm more content now than I've ever been. I'm perfectly happy growing old with my husband.

Personally, I think those women are being selfish. Although there are certainly legitimate reasons for a marriage to break up, personal fulfillment isn't one of them. A good marriage is hard work, and it seems to me that they're taking the easy way out.

Happy Birthday, Sarah!

Sarah, Great blog. Men have been doing it for centuries, so I give those women credit now. If a marriage isn't working, AND the other doesn't want to put in the effort to fix it, then getting out is good.

Although my ex made this decision for me, I have found great joy in the travel part, and in finally being able to take a Sunday nap!

46, bah. Try 50. Yep, 50. Fif ------- Tee. And, in the mail last week, I got the dreaded AARP invitation to join. Yippee.

Great blog, Sah. It brings to mind Tennyson's Ulysses -- what doesn't at half a century -- both the beginning and toward the end.

"It little profits that an idle king/By this still hearth, among these barren crags/Matched by an aged wife, I mete and dole/ Unequal laws unto a savage race/That hoard, and sleep, and feed/and know not me

. . .

The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks/The long day wanes, the slow moon climbs, the deep/Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends/’Tts not to late to seek a newer world. . .”

Yes, all right; definitely a bit egomaniacal, a bit overblown. But it gets to a solution that could prove helpful to many lost-fiftysomethings. I think Al was saying, “get the #$%@ out and do something! Show a little gumption. And stop your bloody whining.”

As Marge would say, just sayin'.

Okay, he said it, I didn't.

Charlie is going to be 50 this week! I haven't seen him in a couple of years, but he didn't look a day over 50 then, so I assume he's not being mistaken for the beginning of that Benjamin Button movie even this year.

Kidding, Charlie, and Happy Birthday!

And don't knock the AARP - you get a great break on movie tickets.

As someone who was single throughout my thirties (and just into my forties) after my first husband decided he needed something more (which he still hasn't found), I can say the single swinging life isn't all it's cracked up to be. Or maybe that was just me--I had two little boys to raise and was teaching high school at the time. Luckily, I found my dream guy (who came with three more kids) and we hope to grow old (and perhaps boring, but that's fine by me) together. I love the quiet times together. We have fun, too, but it's about creating a life for the two of us. I hope all these women find what they're looking for, but I wonder how many of them will look back and think, gee, I had it all back then.

The thing is, Michele, you're not 50 yet.
These friends of mine were happy in their marriages, too, at our age. So...you never know.

I just remember my mother's friends going through something like this. Back then, it was blamed on women's lib and avocado green kitchens.

I am 53 & finally sent off my AARP membership for Dear Hubby & me. Hopefully it offers great benefits besides a pretty good magazine.

I am not even going to start on the long list of reasons why I have been thinking along the same lines as those women. Yes, some are totally silly, childish reasons. But others are important, not unreasonable problems that are not being addressed (despite my earnest attempts). During my 30s & 40s I was experiencing the lovely 'early menopause' plus a daughter in college, so things got swept under the rug. Now that stuff is (almost) behind us, it is time for us. And that isn't working out so well.

I understand those women more than I can ever say, but I'm trying very hard not to be one of them.

Wow, Pam. Thanks for your honesty. Good luck in figuring out what to do.

See....there is some basis for this phenomenon. It's not just random.

I waved goodbye to fifty a few years ago, and I'm still married to my husband of thirty-something years, but more and more I wonder why. What do you do with a guy who has no outside interests, who hasn't made a new friend in years, who falls asleep in the chair after dinner, who isn't interested in doing anything as a couple, and who thought my writing was a "thing to keep me busy and avoid responsibility" until his colleagues at work started acting impressed that I'd published? If we weren't bound financially, I'm not sure I'd still be here. I want more.

Happy birthday, Sarah. And I think women are finally listening to themselves, instead of being self-sacrificing for the sake of their families. In their 40s, women start realizing that life is short and they are looking for a little joy -- whether it's with a bird feeder or on the dance floor with a new man.

Since ours is such a new relationship, it may not have much to do with the discussion.

Stephen says that he has this fear that I will wake up and realize how boring his/our life is. I tell him that I've waited all my life to be in a relationship and my life was pretty dull on my own. It is a comfortable life. At 61 and 62, we have figured out what we enjoy -- and most people would find it very boring. We resent travel, we like staying home reading, puttering on the computer, gardening, and crafty projects. We're happy.

Happy Birthday Sarah and Charlie!!

Sheila...you, too, have captured what my friends were feeling.

Also, Elaine, the financial aspect is a big part of it. I think what separated my mother's generation from this one is that women - like the public servant I met on the bus and the woman from Colorado - work. The public servant went back to work when her youngest entered middle school. She said she really, really enjoyed motherhood, but that she's also doing very well in her job. She gets a great deal of satisfaction from helping people. (Hallelujah for that!)

Now, she's ready to grow and it seems like her husband's going in the opposite direction. Which is kind of what you're saying, Sheila.

But she also has her own income and, from the sound of it, it looks like she'll be advancing, making more money.

When I asked if her kids would be supportive of her leaving, she said, "Oh, yeah."

Soooo....get up, stand up WE WANT THE TRUTH! Stand up for your rights!
Having gotten married at 38 for the only time and having my son at 39 (The only child)I can see and have seen both sides of this coin. The relationship started out like a dream but after 5 months I could see it was headed for disaster and then along came my son and I stuck it out for ten years. Not the best reason to stay married.
Would I have had a better life if I'd spent my 40's raising a kid and looking for the right man? And is there a right man out there?
My ex died of cancer 2 years ago. I can still hear him calling me up and telling me what a bad mother I was.
Too many questions to answer. And no choice is a choice too. Think about it ladies or we'll all end up on a cruise ship with each other and a couple of hired men folk for company like those cougarettes!
I say stand by your man unless he really is worthless and doesn't love you.
Most of the fish in the sea at 50 are dogs anyways. It's not only slim pickins' for the economy.
Just saying.

Pam, Sheila, I applaud you for the brave and honest comments.

Wow, what a kettle of fish this blog has opened! First, happy birthday to you and to Charlie, Sarah. And I wonder if that anniversary gift has anything to do with your personal marital contentment? Not just that you gave such a gift, but that you would be so generous as to give it. I suspect that many woman would not be quite as nice, even though it would benefit them, as well. Your generosity of spirit will go a long way to making both your lives happy.

I'm married to my second husband, and I can see why some women in their 50's would become discontented. In one group of friends I was the only one who had had sex with anyone other than a husband in the last almost 40 years. In fact, three of the women had never had sex with anyone but their husbands. Not that I was some kind of Jezebel, but it does make a difference to have some kind of basis for comparison.

Pam, you and I could be with the same man, almost, except that my husband does rally periodically. We have rubbed the rough edges off one another after almost 27 years of marriage (and dating 3 1/2 years before that), and I'm not about to try to rehab another man at this stage. Besides, we just bought a farm where we spend about half our time, and it's made for a nice change in our relationship, and we've made a lot of new friends there. Who knew?

And then there's the woman we ran into over the weekend, who was married to an old friend of hubby's. She was with her date--another woman. That could also be a reason for discontent.

Sorry, I meant Sheila, not Pam. Except that when I wrote my first book, my husband actually edited it for me. After I made him promise not to criticize too much (he was an English major). That went a long way towards making him respect me as more than the boring mom who dragged kids all over town; I think he was astonished that I could write so well, even though I'd been editing his writing for years. Sheesh.

First, Happy Birthday Sarah!!!

And you, too, Charlie!!!!

Here I am...42 and still waiting for the knuckle-head to wake up. And am getting tired of it all.

I would love a guy to relax with, and read with and watch movies with...

You're right, Sarah. I'm not 50 yet, though it's not so far off that I can't imagine it. Plus I feel like I'm getting a taste because all of a sudden my kids are older and need me less. But I don't have the slightest urge to start shopping at Forever 21 and cruising the disco. I want to work more and contribute more to the world outside my four walls. And once the kids are on their own, Jeff and I talk about living overseas, learning languages, having adventures together. Doesn't trading in the spouse seem like a cheap reaction to the mid-life crisis?

But you're saying it's a mid-life crisis, Michele. Yes, it's a crisis and, yes, it's happening in mid life, but for many of these women the discontent began earlier, only they felt a responsibility to stay at home and raise their children.

So maybe I made it sound more glib than the truth. The truth is there's a whole range of reasons for why these women are leaving. Maybe they should be applauded for sticking around as long as they did.

Count yourself lucky that you and Jeff not only share similar interests, but also have the financial ability to do what you want. I can't help but wonder if this financial crisis is also putting a strain on post-children marriages.

Sheila, if Dear Hubby ever left the house, I would think you were married to him, too.

I guess the difference is that women tend to put their hopes/dreams/needs on hold...taking care of the 'family', hauling kids around, doing cooking, cleaning, working outside the home...and when the kids are gone, it is their turn. But the men think it is their turn to get our attention. Dear Hubby was always #1 in our house, I worked the kids around him. So he can't understand why I won't wait on him now.

Dear Hubby has always said (in the heat of an argument, of course) that if we ever split, I would be married again within a month. I told him that if I ever was smart enough to get rid of him, I wasn't going to be stupid enough to do it again.

I just need to win the lottery.

Precious works waaaay too much. I found we were in a rut, staying in, reading, watching tv, you know the routine. So I did something about it. I got busy and found things to do for both of us. Things he likes to do that I like, too. For instance, last night in the middle of a black ice storm (and if you're not from Texas, you probably haven't had that most exciting of driving experiences) we drove 25 miles - hey, we live in the city, it's a long drive - to see Manhattan Transfer perform. For his birthday, I took him to see TransSiberian Orchestra perform in Colorado Springs. We both come out ahead. We get out of the house, we are doing things together and we both enjoy the activities. We love to travel, but I have to take the initiative or it wouldn't happen. Well worth the effort, might I say. 30 years of comfortable companionship. Oh, and today is his birthday, too. But I was married before to a manipulative, controlling verbal abuser. No amount of initiative could save that relationship.

I think that people should not belittle the power and the impact of the mid-life crisis.

I am serious in this. I'm not talking about the cliched guy with the bad combover who always wanted the 'Vette and now he can finally afford it, so he's blind to how ridiculous he looks. Or the woman whose menopausal hormones send her buying faux leather capris and panting after the pool boy.

I am talking about sober, grounded people who reach mid-life, whose children are grown, and who have the genuine realization that their time left on earth is limited. Thirty, forty more years of what? With whom? It is, for some women, the first time in decades they can take stock, focus on themselves and make a decision about their future. When did introspection become bad?

It makes me sad that personal fulfillment has become a subject to be disrespected. Making a change or walking out, realizing that your life is a disappointment and addressing that, is not always a selfish, lighthearted romp. Change takes courage.

Great blog, Sarah, and kudos to all the backbloggers. I certainly don't claim any great philosophical insights into these phenomena. I do think that women, like men, reach a natural point of reassessing their lives, especially once the most pressing responsibilities of kids and careers are past. For myself, another really important factor was seeing my parents aging and realizing that it was time to start thinking about what I wanted my life to be like ten, twenty, thirty years down the road.

That's when I really committed to getting healthy and to following my passions. My wonderful husband shares none of those passions and periodically wonders why I'm not bored with him. But how could I be? He's one of the most generous, funny, supportive, loving people I've ever known, and he makes me happy every single day. He's proud of what I do and isn't threatened by any of it. He understands that I have goals he doesn't share and has no problem with me pursuing them. I just hope I do the same for him. He doesn't have any complaints so far, thank heavens!

I have no issue with anyone who finds him/herself in a partnership that doesn't work seeking a better life -- been there, done that. But I'm more than grateful to have learned that there are many ways to make a partnership work, and to be sharing my life with the best partner I can imagine.

And may I add to the birthday greetings...

Happy Birthday Sarah & Charlie. May you have many more years of good health, good company & good food!

Are you talking about genuninely troubled marriages where people have stuck it out for the sake of the kids? Then I agree. I totally applaud people (men AND women) who put their lives on hold to raise their kids in a two-parent home. And yes, I think once the kids are grown, if you're really unahppy, of course you should take action.

I read this blog to be more about the situation where the deep emotional satisfaction of mothering is past and women start feeling bored and empty and decide the solution is a different guy. This to me is no different than a man dumping his wife for another woman at mid-life. It's not so much that I'm judging it -- everybody has to make their own choices. But it doesn't resonate with me. I'd rather volunteer or find religion or get a dog, and keep my husband.

Sorry for the typos!

Happy birthday, youngster! I have great admiration for the long-standing good marriages I've seen among my friends, great achievements built upon mutual respect and loyalty. I've also seen the suffering endured in bad marriages and admire those who have the courage to escape.
We all have to find our own best paths. My own "new" path is storytelling, which is not all that different from teaching, except I don't have to do attendance or grades. The only male in my life right now is the little tree frog (only the males "sing") and he was singing this morning, so he must be happy with the cricket I found in the bathroom last night. I'm off in the snow to get him some more crickets at the pet store -- hmm, already he's complicating my life . . . ;-)

Happy birthday to Sarah and Charlie, them young whippershnappers, and long may they wave!

Michele wrote: "Jeff and I talk about living overseas, learning languages, having adventures together."

In a nutshell, Michele, that's why this issue doesn't make sense to you. You two still like each other. You talk and listen to each other. You still want each other's company. You're planning a shared future, and you're excited about it.

Not everyone is so fortunate. I agree (very much!) with Ramona.

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness: we are each responsible for our own. I've twice found myself named a boatanchor in long-term relationships. The crises and departures of the women in question was startling, devastating, and (quelle surpris!) there was another man in the picture each time. But the two women have gone on to remarkable places in their lives. One's an author, one's a physician. Good for them; and ultimately better for me.

We should learn as we go. Otherwise we're already dead.

Michele, I have a different perspective on "staying together for the children". A relative did this, not leaving her indifferent husband until both their daughters were grown and out of the house. But those daughters, between them, have had four failed marriages. They never had a role model for what a good marriage should look like, and they keep choosing poorly for themselves. In the main, I think that if mama is happy, everyone is happy. We can be much better mothers when we are more at peace with ourselves. And our kids need to see this.

Writing my first book, and then traveling to promote it, was a big turning point in our marriage. Up until then my husband's business was the pivot for everything the family did; afterwards, our family became the pivot, and everything revolved around what we did together. I was much happier, and got a lot more respect from my husband when I was getting sales and kudos from others. Up until that point, though, things had been pretty rocky around here, and I can see now it was because I was so unfulfilled, once the kids got old enough not to need me so much.

Michele, you are right. To a degree it sounds like the female version of the midlife crisis. Instead of the motorcycle/Vette and the affair, they just dump the old man. And I can's speak for anyone but me. Some of this is problems that have been there from the beginning (31 1/2 years) that have been swept under the rug (mostly by me and how is he to know?) to just get along. But in trying to find a path for myself, the resistance and the accusations and the apathy are hard to break through. Depressed? Oh, yeah, on both sides. Willingness to do anything about it? I seem to be swimming upstream to get anything through the walls he has built. Is this all one-sided? Absolutely not. He isn't completely happy either, but unlike me, he doesn't see any advantage to change.

Tom...you are so hot.

Michele, I am not talking about trading in a spouse for a new model. Personal fulfillment cannot come through another person. In addition, not all women have children, and not all mothers experience deep emotional satisfaction from motherhood, although I agree that the empty nest often sparks the internal conflict we glibly call mid-life crisis.

Tom is correct in that you are fortunate to have a partner who, apparently, stands with you side-by-side. But in some marriages, over time, a partner falls behind, or stands in front of you, in the way. How long do you side-step or slow down? Why should you have to?

First of all, if there are any secret pleasures to menopause, I'd like to know them. By the time I surrendered and went to the doctor, I was having at least 15 hot flashes A DAY. Thank God for (synthetic) hormones. Better living thru chemistry, as they say.
I think many problems with marriages surviving past empty nests and advancing age have to do with our belief that no one evolves through the years. Stereotypically, the homebody wife develops wanderlust while the business-trip husband wants to sit in an easy chair and enjoy his home. For couples who can't let each other change and find a way to enjoy their new interests, divorce is the easiest resolution.
I have the "benefit" of marrying my 3rd husband after floundering about with men who wanted me to be what they wanted and stay that way. My hubby and I enjoy each other, then scamper off to do our own thing (his is sports, mine is horses), then regroup. Works for us.
I have friends who were together for almost 20 years. Then she turned 50 and decided her partner wasn't, IDK, "enough" for her. Her partner agreed to counseling, leapt at the chance to fix things, but after two sessions, she ran off with someone else. As a friend, you watch from the sidelines and try to remain neutral, but it's hard not to think, "gee, she wouldn't even give her partner a chance to rebuild their relationship... what can I expect from our friendship if she gets bored with me?"

Whoa. Skip a few hours on the blog, and you miss some really good stuff!

My parents stayed together 'for the children' - but there was abuse there - emotional, if nothing else, and that kind of marriage model isn't good for anyone. They finally divorced after 30+ years and five kids. I wonder - if there had not been another woman in the picture - how much longer it would have lasted. Everyone is better off this way.

I wonder how many people (men and women) who leave with seemingly no 'reason' have been living with abuse or addiction for decades and just finally hit the wall. Co-dependent behavior is the explanation for a lot of long-term relationships that make no sense to people outside the house.

Really great comments today - and I appreciate the honesty. I love this blog.

I have been seeing a counselor for about 18 months for a few reasons, but mainly trying to decide if I can spend another 30 years trying to co-exsist this way. I understand him better, but I also understand myself much better. I have changed a lot. It is just a matter of figuring out if we have enough commonality to keep this up.

A wise friend once asked me, vis a vis marriage: Why should we expect one person to serve all our needs for the rest of our lives? She was so right; we need girlfriends in addition to our husbands, and sometimes we need male friends, too. I am so fortunate to have several really good male friends (all platonic, and only one of them gay), and my husband understands that I get something different from them than from him.

My husband also does not like to travel, either, except in the US, but I enjoy traveling a lot. I finally went on a trip to Europe with some women friends (and others who became friends). It was so much fun that I will no doubt do that again. Does it make me sad that he doesn't want to go with me? A little, but then I realize how much more fun I have on my own and I perk right up!

Motorcycles and Sunday naps are not mutually exclusive. They both sound pretty good to me, and fortunately, they both sound pretty good to my husband. If only those damn kids would grow up and leave us alone.

I agree -- really interesting discussion today. I'm spending too much time on it!

I guess the bottom line is, you really can't stand in another person's shoes. I agree that everyone deserves to be happy, and I don't judge anybody's choices.

Staying together for the kids, that's a tough one. It's easy to say that's always a mistake. I come from a generation where many of my friends were children of painful divorces. The 70s hit and it was time for their parents to discover their sexuality. Depressed parents aren't good but that was no party either.

Good friends of mine (a couple) have had a pretty unhappy marriage and have struggled mightily to keep it together for their kids. They split at one point and came back together. They've been abusive toward each other at times, but now they're working really hard to be better. I admire them for sticking it out. Is it a perfect example for their kids? No. Would divorce and remarriage be better? That seems like too convenient an answer. But this is only one situation. Results may vary!

I've no right to comment on marriage 'cause I've never been to that territory. But what I do see in my friends and relatives strikes me as often falling into two categories: Women (or men) who can/will not come to terms with the fact that a man is not a woman (& vice-versa) and will never behave like one, so they think if they dump current spouse, they'll find another who suits their expectations; Or, someone waking in midlife or midmarriage to the need for internal change (who am I and where am I going and how will I get there?) and thinking that the solution is external change. I am definitely NOT saying that those who find themselves in abusive relationships or just plain chose the 'wrong' partner (or fell for false advertising) should just stay. But a friend told me last night of being 'stuck' unexpectedly with her longtime boyfriend in a situation they couldn't leave because of a bad storm. They started talking, and talking, and talking, and a relationship that had previously been foundering is now happy and stronger than before, as both partners had unacknowledged desire for change and found they shared a lot of common ground in that! I still hope to find the man with whom to share today and the future--you may have to remind me of my idealism when I'm in the midst of where you are now. I think the best any of us can do is take responsibility for our 'stuff' and be as kind and generous as possible: this is a challenging path for me, but uphill is good for the heart, right?

Michele, my own parents divorced when I was 15, with four children. I still think it was the best decision they ever made together. Besides having me, of course!

Forgot to say: Happy birthday, SarahS and Charlie! May the year ahead be joyous and healthy, and full of love.

I'm "only" 33 and our first baby is not due until February (give or take...). While reading some of these postst is a bit terrifying, I really appreciate the honesty and sincerity of you all.

It's given me a lot to think about regarding how I'd like to communicate with my husband over the next few years -and, hopefully, decades (whether that will happen on 30 minutes of sleep at a time remains to be seen, I suppose...).

Thanks again for your honesty.

I think one of the biggest mistakes some people make is assuming the partner thinks or feels the same as they do. One of our biggest problems is that over the years I have just said, "I don't care; we can do that", when in fact, I did care. I should have said something, but at the time, it wasn't worth the hassle. Do I do that now? No. If I don't want to do something, I say so, but if it really doesn't matter, then I say that too.

Communication is the biggest thing. Before you sign the damn piece of paper, talk about kids, religion, money, sex, holidays, families, housework, whatever you can think of. I know perceptions & beliefs change over the years, but at least have a solid base.

I'm sorry Sarah but if you'll notice what time I posted, I'm sure you'll understand and forgive me...I completely forgot to say...Happy Birthday!
And Happy Birthday to you too, Charlie.

Maybe I'm old fashioned but I still take my pledge of 'in sickness and in health, until death do us part' very seriously.

Maybe because we didn't have children our later years have been easier. (We are married for 35 years.)

It could be because DH is very supportive of my writing and has NEVER referred to it as my 'little hobby' as one relative did. (He will defend my writing to the death.)

Another reason for our success might be that we both have interests and friends of our own along with those that we share.

Each day we have together is precious. It could be that it's because of his MS. We do our best to be good to each other.

I can understand the need of some women to find something different. Oftentimes that need stems from their marriages stagnating and not growing. As with children and gardens, relationships need nurturing. If you don't constantly take care of it, a marriage will die of neglect.

Marriages that are doomed are ones where either partner decides that what they do is superior to what their partner does.

Definitely run as fast and and far away from any elationship that contains verbal, mental, or physical abuse. That isn't a relationship it is a toxic waste dump.

Wow. I'm glad Mrs. Josh didn't come and post today. I look better if you aren't married to me.

Peg, I think not having children does make a difference. My aunt & uncle (they are only 7 years older than me) are so close it makes everyone jealous. They pay attention to each other & to themselves. They talk about things together & don't let the other just shrug things off. And they haven't had little fingers tugging & pulling their attention away.

As I have told Dear Hubby, we have put too much time & effort & suffering (lol) in to give up now!

Pam, I don't know if this will help or not, but in the 27 years we've been married, things have ebbed and flowed. The last serious rift we had gave us an opportunity to make some really serious changes that made us both happier. We each listed just three things that we were having issues with, and we both saw where our own area of stubbornness was, and how little it would take to make things better. (If there had been serious issues, that would not have worked.)

Since my parents had such a crappy marriage, I never expected to live happily. My husband's parents stayed married until one of them passed away, for more than 50 years, but they also had troubles, mostly from not communicating, we've decided.

Boy, are you ever right about talking before a couple gets married. WAY too many women, in particular, are all about the wedding, and pay far too little attention to what happens after the big party, when real life begins.

Karen, I have told my daughters that marriages have peaks & valleys just like the economy! It seems for us that every 5 years we hit a valley, the next 5 its the peak. We just have 'issues' to work on and one of us is more committed to trying than the other. What I feel is important, he doesn't & then doesn't try. What he feels is important, I try...for a while. He has trouble thinking of others, I have trouble thinking of myself. So it is a challenge!

Ok, everyone...I am done bitching about this. I didn't mean to get so involved & I appreciate the thoughts expressed by everyone. Even those not directed at me. It gives me plenty to think about. Besides, I have a Christmas tree to put up tonight. Yuck!!!!!!

Wonderful blogs this week while I've been elsewhere. Kudos to the backbloggers who, as usual, elevate every topic with your wisdom.

I'm helping my aunt with end-of-life issues, and it's excruciating. Except she can say with all honesty that she's had a good life. Never married, didn't have children, but had a rich academic life, cultural experiences, travel and a busy social life that she still runs by being the one who picks up the phone and makes a lunch happen with a pal. She's totally engaged by life--sought out changes and made tough choices sometimes (had to tell one longtime acquaintance that she could no longer be a good friend to her) but has really seized things by the throat. I look at her and wonder if I will be able to be just as happy with all my decisions when my time comes.

Sarah, there's clearly a book in this subject.

Yeesh, that was me,

This dialog is reminding me of Judith Black's "Fading Scent" collection of stories, inspired by an AARP "Sexy at Sixty" article -- and her wondering why we can't spend time and energy on social issues instead of cosmetics . .

Happy Birthday, Sarah!
I must say, there are few things more fabulous and splendid, in my book, than a nap. Long live naps.

Happy Birthday, Sarah & Charlie! And thanks for such a lively discussion, Sarah.

I didn't get married until I was in my mid-30s. If I had married the men I dated when I was 17 and 26, I would have had lots of children and been extremely, totally, unendingly depressed. But, since I didn't marry either of them and waited until I found someone I really loved after knowing him for more than one year, I'm very happy with one step-daughter and one son who have been both irritating and wonderful.

I'm in my mid-50s and pretty much at peace with my life (until my son goes to college next year, that is), but I began assessing things when I was in my mid-40s. I wondered if I really wanted to be with my husband and if I wanted the same kind of life. But after all the introspection, I realized I can still have the life I want with my husband. Luckily he and I share several interests (hiking, walking, occasional movies, Barnes & Noble, and camping) but also have our own (mine: writing, classical music, history...his: golf, football watching, yardwork). But neither of us is such a fanatic about any of our personal interests that we can't stop and do something with each other. (In fact, we each like a little of the other's interests.)

I attribute this to our personalities. DH will tell you that my interests always trump his, but we both know that isn't the real truth. I waited to get married until I found someone who treated me as a partner, was kind, a good father, had similar interests as mine and, most of all, was a person I could trust when we were apart. Unlike other guys I dated, I didn't constantly wonder what my DH was doing at each moment, and I believe that freed me to be more myself. It also helped that he has been very supportive of all my various and sundry undertakings and encourages me in the ups and downs of my burgeoning writing life.

I know my hubby and I are lucky to have found each other, and I'm looking forward to spending quality time with him when our son is away next year. In fact, that will be the first time we'll be by ourselves since we've known each other. He was a widower with a little daughter when I met him, and so we've always had someone else around. Now we'll have a chance to do what we want whenever we want. We're already excited about going on vacation and not having to work it around school dates. Hopefully we'll still be friends this time next year. ;-0

Oh, and just so you know, the first decade of our marriage was really tough because of the stepdaughter-stepmother-dad triangle issues. At times I thought of leaving, but I knew I would never find anyone better than my DH. We did get counseling and worked through a lot, but our marriage didn't get better until my stepdaughter left for college. She grew up, I forgave and now we're really good friends. But knowing that she was going away to college was the light at the end of the tunnel for both my stepdaughter and me. If she had stayed at home, who knows what I would have done to get back my sanity.

Life is what you make of it. I have chosen to make it an adventure. I am growing every day. I think of myself as sleeping beauty. Every day I realize something new about myself. It is terrifying and exciting both at the same time. Why should I not enjoy life? My case may be different from others, since I came from an abusive marriage. However, I know I must be true to myself. This is something that I have only just discovered and I will continue to grow with this believe. I am seeing a man that is very loving and caring. I don’t know where the relationship will go, but I do know that I am the one steering the ship.

Just turned 46 and have been out of my marriage for almost 2 years. I didn’t leave because I was bored. I left a verbally abusive and controlling man. I never really knew how abusive he was until I left. I only knew that I had to get away before he killed me or I went insane. During this 25 year marriage I only went out about 10 times, although he went out all the time. I truly lived in a fantasy and I really believed that one day everything would be great and we could spend time alone. Taking walks, enjoying our grandkids, and just growing old together. I think many women suffer from the same thing that I suffered from… DENIAL…
Life is what you make of it. I have chosen to make it an adventure. I am growing every day. I think of myself as sleeping beauty. Every day I realize something new about myself. It is terrifying and exciting both at the same time. Why should I not enjoy life? My case may be different from others, since I came from an abusive marriage. However, I know I must be true to myself. This is something that I have only just discovered and I will continue to grow with this believe. I am seeing a man that is very loving and caring. I don’t know where the relationship will go, but I do know that I am the one steering the ship.

Sarah--your post is so inspirational! I'm coming to New York through Easy Click Travel and would love to visit you. Contact me!

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