A few years ago I wrote a post called “Love at First Sight for the over 50’s” all about how love at first sight happens more often, the older you get. I wasn’t totally convinced about relationships after divorce and felt it possibly had something to do with the fact that (after divorce and all) we might be a lot less picky and merely fancy everyone (anyone) with a heartbeat and a single status.
The research found that older people are more decisive, know what they want in a relationship and aren’t afraid to shut down an unsuccessful date after one drink if necessary. In other words, they choose to waste no time.
I love this picture:-
Wasting no time is important after a certain age (although I hate referring to age) simply because you’ve got less of it left to waste. Whilst at 50 you could feasibly still have half your life ahead of you, it still focuses the mind. But it’s not wasted time to be on your own after divorce and spend time with friends, family and just sitting in your space, doing the things you love, getting to know yourself again. After a long period of reflection I now believe that we get more picky and set in our ways over time, because there are a lot more things to life than being in a relationship, so it has to be special. Choosing to be with someone instead of living alone (or with your children) becomes more difficult because living alone is not so bad, in fact it can be great. When you’ve been used to doing things your way and have found your feet again, it’s quite difficult to learn how to sew even just the edges of two separate lives together.
I wonder if there comes a time, however, when you have to simply take a leap of faith – just as my husband and I did back in the day when we started our lives together. If we had thought too far ahead, maybe we wouldn’t have done it, but we were young and in love and excited for our future. Now that I’m older, that leap of faith is more difficult to do – there’s somehow more at stake and it feels more risky. Or maybe I haven’t met the right person yet? You might discover that your legs don’t stretch as far as they used to and you can’t take that running jump or those arthritic hips mean that you don’t quite cross the divide and instead you potentially might stumble and fall down into the void. But maybe trying is better than not trying?
It’s not easy to teach an old dog new tricks, especially if you’ve had children and a marriage (or two) and we all know it’s not a good idea to try and get a Leopard to change it’s spots. You’ve somehow got to live and let live and find a way to share your life, your expectations, your dreadful habits, your not so dreadful habits, their dreadful habits, your friends and your children in peace and harmony. We haven’t yet worked out how to do that.
It’s quite strange to be looking at alternative options at this age and stage when everyone else seems to have a clear life plan, attempting to work out what your ultimate joint objective is and how you get there without pissing each other off. How do you even share your cutlery, your cupboard space, your wall space, OMG, it’s all a little bit daunting. Maybe living apart is a better option – two houses mean you can run back to the hills when you want to. It works for Jeanette Winterson. But I suspect that doesn’t ultimately work for both parties – it’s too easy to be non committal. BUT I have friends who are now, after 30 years of marriage, considering separate bedrooms because of the incessant snoring and yet that clearly wouldn’t work in a new relationship. But what if you’ve both slept on the same side of the bed for your whole life thus far? Who is going to have to capitulate and get used to sleeping on the “wrong” side when it affects dodgy arms and legs? My mother suggested we get single beds. Great. Another no no in a new relationship.
It’s all a process I guess and we’re working it all out. My thoughts on relationships after divorce to try and remember are as follows:-
- Fantastic if you’re compatible sexually, but how do you make yourself compatible whilst trying to sleep?
- Planning a future is daunting. If in doubt, go back to basics. Dance around the kitchen and laugh and be sure it’s the one.
- Talk to each other and ensure you both respect each others differing opinions
- Don’t over complicate matters
- All you need is mutual kindness, understanding and openness
- Don’t get stressed by the stress, sometimes an argument is required to clear the air and reveal the bigger picture. Often it’s what you don’t want to do, rather than what you do want to do that explodes to the surface, and that’s OK – other times an argument is a warning sign
- Remember that the idea is you’re supposed to make each other better people in every way – meant to enhance what was already there
- Try and discuss what success looks like to you both – how to balance your independent lives? It’s important you don’t squash each others dreams
- Get a very big bed
- Get some very effective earplugs
And remember, through the journey, whilst you are limbering up to take that leap of faith (or not) that it’s important to enjoy every day – as Andy Warhol says “you have to be willing to get happy about nothing.”