Once upon time, women and society believed that our lives would be complete by the time we reached our forties. We were supposed to have it all—a successful career, a loving husband, and children to call our own. However, as the world evolved, so did our expectations and desires. The modern woman is rewriting the script, embracing new relationships and even marriage with a renewed sense of adventure and authenticity at later stages in her life.
I come from a divorced home. My parents were civil to each other and tried their best to raise me and my brother, but I knew they were not happy. It made me feel sad for both, but they did love me and my brother. I knew from a young age that I did not want to get married and be unhappy. I knew that I didn’t want to bring children into this world and have them feel what I felt. This part of my life formed the way I thought about love and marriage. By no means was I going to rush into marriage and to be honest, I didn’t believe one had to get married to live a fulfilling life.
I was a self-proclaimed bachelorette my whole life. I was in no rush to get married or start a family. Although I identify as a feminist, I believe that happiness is the ultimate goal and understand that happiness varies from person to person. For me, happiness was making sure I was happy first and then meeting the right guy who would complement and add more value to my life. This was my choice. Of course, I was constantly asked by family members when I will get married? When will I settle down? That in itself is another topic, which embodies so many cultural pressures and expectations. I knew that I did not want to be part of a failed marriage and be unhappy. I made the conscious decision to wait for marriage as long as I could. The way I see marriage, it is a contract, a piece of paper. I know couples who have thrived without getting married and I know many couples who are unhappy in their marriage and/or have gotten divorced. Pretty scary how high that number is; a study showed that 56 percent of marriages end in divorce and another 20 percent stay in unhappy marriages for the children and or financial hardship (Soft White Underbelly YouTube Channel; “A Divorce Attorney’s Thoughts on Love and Marriage – James Sexton”). That was enough to scare me away from marriage and committing. I lived through one unhappy marriage (my parent’s marriage), I did not need to live through another one.
By no means am I anti-love. I simply wanted to wait for the right person to build a life with and I knew I had to wait until I was mature enough. Of course, I fell in love in my 20s and early 30s, but I knew at that time I was still naive. I knew that long-term relationships take a lot of work, commitment and compromise. I was still trying to figure out what I wanted in life and focus more on building my career. I wanted to fulfill myself first and be able to bring a good portion to the table. In return, I was expecting the same from a partner and hoping he was building and preparing himself as well.
I met my husband three years ago when I was 40. We are the same age and pretty much established as far as career and in life. It makes things a bit easier because we both know what we want in a partner and future goals. There is little room for playing around at this age. There is no time to waste since we both have busy schedules. You learn to appreciate each other’s time. This type of love is different from the “puppy love” from our teens and 20s. I wanted something real, real! I finally wanted a companion to join me in events and build a life together. I got tired of doing it all alone and wanted someone who I could depend on for a change. It was perfect timing when we met. It was really unexpected. I fell for him and did not want to let him go. From the beginning, he wanted a serious relationship and knew what he wanted. This was a bit different for me since most guys I dated in the past took things slow and in no rush, which is not bad, but I finally had reached a point in my life and I was ready to be in a serious, real adult relationship.
I embraced his honesty, hard work ethic, no vices, consistency, and respect. He wanted to build a life together and made it known early on. No playing games here and he was straightforward. I could finally be vulnerable and not have my guard up. I finally found a partner that was willing to put in as much work into this with no hidden agenda except to simply grow as a team and that is what it’s all about. As an older couple, we also realize how much work it does take to live a fulfilling relationship. We all know relationships are not perfect, we are not perfect, but as long as we acknowledge our faults, we compromise and help each other grow as individuals and as a couple.
I would like to think that my partner is an extension of myself. I do not need a partner to complete me if I am complete in my own right. It’s two individuals who enhance each other’s lives without relying on one another for personal fulfillment and complementing each other. Relationships are still fun in your 40s, but also hard. I chose someone who is willing to fight for me and with me when things get tough. I believe I have finally found that and it was worth the wait.