Love in mid-life has a frisson and a delight all its own. At the beginning your beloved enchants you with his every word and you parse each one. You feel so lucky to have found the other. You both remember every minute of the day you met, the time the L word was mentioned, how and by whom.
Knowing that it might be the last chance to really get it right gives mid-life love a weight and heft that younger love doesn’t have. While you may not be building a family, you ARE building the last stage of your life—you’ll be spending the rest of your days together, if it goes well, so it’s got significance, importance.
We’re all going to get old, God willing, but how will you be if the other gets seriously ill? If it doesn’t work out, how will it be to be a single, 65-year-old? Are there grown kids for one or the other, and how are you with that? Do your plans for the rest of your life together mesh?
Yes, mid-life love can be interesting. And sometimes in that Chinese-curse-may-you-live-in-interesting-times way.
In mid-life love, you make accommodations you wouldn’t have made in younger years, because you know more about what it takes to really make a relationship –and its zing! – last.
And even in times when all you can think about is the down side, you end up realizing that there are ALWAYS down sides, days when things are less than ideal, because you are always two completely different grown-up people trying to make a life together.
I’ve not been a big compromiser in relationships. Sure, I’d like to say that I was, but really, in a lot of ways, I’m not. I’ve held out for “it all.” But that means different things to different people.
To me, “it all” means to keep alive that lasting excitement, intellectual, physical and emotional. So far, despite the ups and downs, the beau and I have managed to mostly have “it all” throughout. It might not be the “it all” another would choose, but it’s what we choose.
The beau is rebuilding a career and a life. I am phasing out of one career but not financially able to completely turn off, as I’d like to. So I’m getting ready to phase in something new and I’m a little scared.
It would be great if I’d worked for a government agency with a defined pension plan, like my sister did. Thirty years and then 60% of her salary the rest of her life. Or like my close friend Twain, who retired as a law enforcement executive and is pulling down a VERY nice retirement stipend.
But that’s not what I did, and truth be told, I’m not sure I could’ve managed one place for 30 years. I’ve been in this job more than 12 and the record before that was under 5. I think you risk getting stale if you stay in one place too long.
But of course, looking back from mid-life, my sister’s decision (which wasn’t really a decision at all, just the way things worked out) seems sage.
It would be great if I’d learned The Secret years ago and my investments had multiplied such that I could kick back now. But that’s not how it worked out.
It would be great if the beau was a retired CEO living on his golden parachute or someone who had oodles of cash. But I’m not sure I would’ve been interested in a man like that. I loved being the middle-aged-belle-of-the-match.com-ball before I met the beau, and I did date a few men like that. But they were pretty boring.
What I love about the beau is his inherent sweetness. Yeah, he can be a bastard if he wants to, but at heart he really is a sweet man. He’s also funny as hell. Intellectual. A thinker and talented writer. Well-read. Knowledgeable. Kind, loving and adorable with his kids and our dog. Even spiritual, in his way. Who could resist a man who proposes in Rome, at the Trevi Fountain? And I love his Gonzo tattoo. And the fact that he positioned it under a sleeve so he could look more respectable for work.
And I love that he loves me. Unconditionally.
He models for me the kind of love I wish for everyone. Especially for myself.
I tend to be unhealthily binary: it’s either all fabulous or it’s all shit.
But really, there’s a whole in-the-middle relationship place that feels really good. I remind myself to focus on that, to stay level with the swings that any long-term relationship has. Because the goodie at the end is a really rich, gooey chocolate truffle, sweet and smooth to the tongue and very satisfying.
So yeah, in midlife I’d like to have complete financial security. To know my future is taken care of. To have the perfect, trouble-free relationship.
But emotional security is a damn good tradeoff.