Question: Dear Luise: I emailed you over a year ago about my 18 year marriage ending and I have kept your response all this time…you were right on the money! So, I’m back with another question. I have started getting quite serious with a man who I really enjoy and care about. He’s wonderful to me and my children! My feelings are just so different this time than they were 20 years ago with my ex…but I was 19 at the time. It should feel and be different at 40, should it not? L.
Answer: Dear L. How nice to get that kind of feedback. Thank you.
It looks to me like you are right on the mark regarding noticing that your feelings are different. It’s because you are. You don’t wear the same kind of clothes you did when you were 19 or probably like the same kind of movies. As we grow, our tastes mature. At 40 they can be very different than they were at 20. And they will keep changing, as we reach other milestones. I could write a book about being 80. It’s wonderful.
Once in a while someone stays frozen at 20 and that usually isn’t a compliment. You are more. You are deeper, wiser and perhaps more thorough. Why not sit down and write a list of what your beliefs and preferences were two decades ago. The results might amaze you. For instance, I can hardly believe that my only serious queston in selecting a guy when I was in high school was what kind of a car he drove. In college, it was what fraternity he belonged to. Give me a break. However, I didn’t even stand out in the crowd because my friends were equally as vacuous.
Parenting has modified you, ending a marriage has, too. Has there been a career in there any place? Challenges have come your way and you have faced them and learned. That’s what I mean by more. And so you look for more in a partner.
The other side of the coin is the possibility that falling in love at 40 may not be as wild, exciting or crazy. It may not be as consuming. That’s OK, isn’t it? It didn’t stay at that pitch for most of us. At 20 we couldn’t think of anything else. As we mature, we are inclined to seek integration above obsession. I always liked that old song, “Love is Better…the Second Time Around.” Give it a whirl. Blessings, Luise