Last week my story entry ended with my confusion about entering a new love relationship in midlife. Even though I adored my soon-to-be husband, letting go of my hard won independence was daunting. During my single-motherhood years I tested my strength and voice as a woman, and now I would once again be sharing decisions. Would it feel like I was losing ground?
Even basic purchases such as groceries became a conversation. I found myself stubbornly resisting when I felt myself defaulting to his wishes to make him happy. It was an old pattern I didnâ€™t want to replicate at this phase of my life. One discussion we had early on was about having a child together. My husband is older than me, and already had three adult children. My two were still in high school at the time, but were we done? I mean really done. We cautiously agreed we were happy with where we were at, so there would be no yours, mine and ours. And yet, down deep, there was sadness in knowing my childbearing years were over. Others might feel much, much, differently, but I was sad.
There were also increasing moments where my mind realized, at forty, half my life was potentially over. Where was I on the life scale? How many goals from my younger days had I met? Did I want to be a dental assistant until I retired? How would I handle my children graduating from high school and embarking on their own adult lives? How did I envision my second half of life, and what role models did I choose to emulate? What was next? Did my husband see me differently since we would not have children together? What were his expectations of me as we grew older together?
Many women Iâ€™ve interviewed told me that reaching the menopausal phase created havoc in their personal lives. Changing moods, goals, appearance, and behaviors often upsets the status quo between couples. Dr. Pamela D. Blair (2005) maintains, â€œSome of the many gifts of the midlife passage include the death of our attempts to control and letting go of protective masks, letting go of manipulative behaviors, toxic relationships, unrealistic self-images, unhealthy addictions, protective illusions, old gods, and expectations. As older women we can choose to be authentic in all we do.â€ Next week Iâ€™ll continue on the topic of midlife transitions, but please let me know how you feel about menopause in general. Are you where you want to be?