After more than 20 years, I’ve decided to start dating again. (Maybe I need to stop watching “The Bachelor”!)
Dating at the age of 50, as you can imagine, is very different than dating in one’s teens or 20s. This time around, it’ll be harder to recreate those youthful, naïve, “first time” feelings of wonderment and excitement that automatically came with those newfound experiences and emotions. It’ll take a lot of work, creativity, and energy – things that seemed effortless all those years ago. In addition, I’m painfully aware of the fact that – while I may be totally comfortable in my skin today – my skin just doesn’t fit me as tightly as it did in days gone by. (Sigh!)
In case some of you are confused, don’t be; I am still happily married to my husband. But now that the kids are out of the house, I don’t want to be seen or defined strictly as a wife and a mother. I want to be his girlfriend again. I want to date him again. I want to share new “first time” moments with him again. I want to be a different, yet better version of my former self. Is that so crazy?
George Bernard Shaw is quoted as having said, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” In this spirit, I did something bold for my husband’s 50th birthday. I sat him down and said, “Typically when men hit 50, they either buy a motorcycle or get a girlfriend. So, let’s go shopping.” (For a motorcycle that is!)
The challenge worked! The purchase of the motorcycle – a “toy” my Jewish mother disapproves of – helped my husband reconnect with his college biking days; a time when I was just his girlfriend. I had forgotten how much he loved riding and how exhilarating it was for me. Riding today — wearing helmets, jackets, jeans, and boots; and me holding on to him tightly – no one knows we’re a middle-aged couple rekindling an old flame. This trip into “dating” again has caused us to focus on recreating other “firsts” like scuba diving, skiing, or traveling together – without the kids – in ways we couldn’t manage at the start of our relationship.
Life is certainly more complicated now. Demanding jobs, aging parents, and children who regularly check in as they navigate their own lives continue to put demands on our time and sap our energies. But working on evolving our relationship, spending time with and paying attention to each other’s needs, is even more important today than it was way back when.
So, what are you waiting for? What will you try to keep your marriage exciting? We’ve all read plenty of “how to” relationship books, seen tons of movies, and have watched many others get it wrong. We all know how to do it right if we really want to.
I suggest you drink plenty of water, get plenty of rest, and turn on your tunes from the ‘70s, ‘80s, or ‘90s. Let the girl of your past meet the woman of your present. Then the two of you should start getting ready to take your husband out on a date!