It usually boils down to a bemoaning of the fact that it is so difficult to find a relationship that will go the distance. During the course of this conversation she made a statement of the obvious, but it struck me as profound at the same time. She said, almost in a tone of exasperation, “The problem is that we’ve all lived a life!”
Wow! THAT is deep! Really, it is. While at midlife we’re looking to live this next chapter of our lives in some sort of happy and fulfilling manner, we in fact have already lived a life. And that ‘old’ life is going with us into our ‘new’ one, one way or another.
Of course, my friend was referring to how complicated it was to find a suitable partner at this stage. This in contrast to the lives we had lived by the time we were, say, 20. I mean, when I was 20 years old it wasn’t all that complicated. My wife-to-be and I were relatively close in age, met at some party, were attracted to each other at some level and soon after were married. Simple.
I didn’t pull out a list of questions for her to answer, nor had I created this mental list of the pros and cons for marrying this woman. I didn’t analyze her personality to see if it was compatible with mine, nor did I run a background check on her to see if she had a record or some such. There was no talk of a prenup as we didn’t have anything. We just climbed into the same car and drove off together to live a life. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have been more mindful of these things, but the fact was that there were few things to be considering to begin with.
Now, roll the tape forward 30 years and look at the scenario. I meet a woman at a party. She may range in age from 35 to 65. She may have been married once, twice or thrice, or still be married, or never married. She has an ex, or several. She may have adult children, perhaps even living with her. She may have young children still at home. She may have assets; she may have debt, even lots of it.
She has a fully-formed personality, and habits and quirky thingies she does. She may be missing body parts. She is sagging in locations you never before imagined. She may have health issues – mental and physical. She may snore. She may have 237 pairs of shoes, and four walk-in closets full of clothes, and a two car garage full of stuff. She may have pets and they may be more important to her than people. She may even hang the toilet paper roll so the paper comes out under versus the correct way.
I could go on, but I think you have sufficient information to be chuckling pretty good by now, or to be utterly depressed. I choose to chuckle. It is more complicated than it was when we were 20. While we may have become wiser and more discerning about people since then (though I seriously wonder about that point sometimes), and perhaps even more tolerant of their idiosyncracies, the reality is that complexity has grown as well. There are more things to consider now that truly can make life more pleasant or make it a real hell on earth. And we would just as soon not add another layer of hell to our lives at this point. The risks of running into a fatal flaw, relationally speaking, seem to be much higher at this stage of life.
It might be why many men simply just give up the hunt. It’s too risky. It takes way too much time to sort through all the variables. Add to that, we’re often quite busy to begin with, making the prospect of going through 10, 50 or however many women it takes to find one that might work out, seems exhausting just to think about, and an unlikely outcome at the outset.
Yet, for many of us, finding that special someone is important to living the new life we envision. It is attainable, but it will likely require some perseverance and a good dose of patience. It is part of entering the process with our eyes wide open and hopefully, our demands of others will be seasoned with an extra portion of grace. Afterall, we’ve all lived a life already – denying it won’t make the process any easier.
About the Author: Master Hobbit