What I know about LOVE at 44 …

Aunt Kate & Uncle Joe with their granddaughter

Aunt Kate & Uncle Joe with their Granddaughter

Love happens.

My Aunt Kate once said about love, “When you get it right, it’s a slice of heaven.” She has been happily married to my uncle for 40 years, one of the best examples of a successful marriage I’ve seen.

I met and fell in love with my husband when we were both in high school. We dated through college, married in our early twenties, and quickly had two children. We settled into our first home in a family neighborhood, where I stayed home to raise our daughter and son.  I expected to always love him, to be married forever.

Love goes away.

My husband and separated when I was 38; then divorced.

He is now my ex-husband. Yet it is still a love story to me, because my children have been one of the greatest joys of my life. My ex and I both love the children, if not each other.

Many years ago, my mother passed away after battling cancer. Divorce and breakups aren’t the only romance enders, partners can pass away.

Love can have many chapters.

After my mother passed away, my father met his second wife. We are profoundly grateful they found each other, his wife has been a gift to our family.

A friend was toasted with, “to the most optimistic woman I know,” at her wedding, when she married her third husband. Nobody expects to be married two, three, four times. But it happens. Perhaps there are more challenges and baggage, but it can work. I admire those with the courage to dive in, embrace another chapter, and love again.

Love comes back.

We all know couples who separated, then reunited; or married, divorced, and then married each other again. Long married couples often say they stayed that way because they never wanted to divorce at the same time.

Couples often struggle during transitions, such as retirement or children flying the nest.  Sometimes they lose each other, and then find their way back together again.

My Wedding (1992)

My Wedding (1992)

Love is squirrely.

Can’t chase it, and catch it. Can’t manufacture it, or force it to be there. Can’t will it away, if that’s what the heart feels. It’s isn’t easily explained.

When things got rocky in my marriage years ago, my then husband and I did a brief stint of marriage counseling.  I remember saying to him, “I think you want to be in love me.”

To which he responded, “Isn’t that a start?” (Meaning a start at repairing the marriage.) No. It really wasn’t. We separated soon after.

Divorce, loss of love, isn’t as simple as pointing a finger.

Was the divorce his fault? Mine? Both of our faults? Yes. It was.

During divorce, many want to blame somebody, or something. It gets complicated. Many thought I should have been more angry or bitter than I was. Here’s what they didn’t understand.

The divorce forced me out of my comfort zone, freed me in some ways. I’ve met new people, grown and developed, pursued my interests, worked to build a career, raised two children as a single parent, and learned to stand on my own two feet.  It’s been hard, challenged me relentlessly, but it has also been good for me, empowering in ways I couldn’t have imagined.

People don’t fall in and out of love at the same time.

Often during love relationships, one person stops feeling the love, while the other is still in love. After the breakup, one person feels guilty, while the other devastated. Many times we don’t fall out of love at the same pace, or at the same time. It is doing somebody a kindness to let them go, when it isn’t working.  It frees them to grieve, and then find the love they deserve.

It isn’t a picnic to be the one who lags behind, who is dumped while still invested in a relationship. Neither is it fun to call off a relationship, hurt somebody.

It isn’t wrong to be either person.

People often botch the ending.

Instead of facing the end of a relationship with honesty, many have affairs, drink, avoid home, pick fights to justify their actions, work incessantly, and all manner of things that make the ending more confusing, messier than it might have been.

Adultery is particularly challenging; it creates shrapnel that children and families pluck out for years, perhaps even lifetimes.

Teaching teenagers about love is hard.

As a single, divorced mom, it’s tough to speak to something that I neither succeeded nor failed at.

I’m not providing an example for my children to learn from, or follow. Could be worse, I could be providing a poor example; serial dating, dragging drama into our family home, and doing more damage to my children. I rely on family and friends to model examples of solid relationships these days.

What can I tell my children about love?

If you fall in love, be honest. If you fall out of love, be honest. Don’t muddy the waters with bad behavior, cheating,and lying. Respect the love you once felt with an honorable ending.

Evaluate the failed (or ended) relationship, yourself and your part in it, your patterns, before moving to the next relationship. (i.e. “clean up your mess”)  Without time, reflection and cleanup, your next relationship is doomed to failure.

When you find somebody you don’t want to live without and they feel the same for you—something clicks. Value it.  Respect and cherish it. It doesn’t come along every day. Hang onto it.

Wisdom to add? Something you’ve learned about love? 

Please share your thoughts by commenting below…

Life Lessons by Michael J. Fox

7 Life Lessons: by Michael J. Fox

1 . Don’t let opportunity pass you by

 2. Marry the right person

3. Keep your head up

4. Listen to your loved ones

5. Teach your children well

6. Fight the good fight

7. Never give up

7 life lessons by michael j fox oct 2013 issue good housekeeping magazine

 

 

 

 

 

Saw his ‘life lessons’ today and loved them. Mr. Fox is featured in the Oct. 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping Magazine. Can’t wait to read the full article.

Anybody have any lessons to add?

Free Narcotics Anybody ???

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This is a real ad, found in one of those FREE Employment Weekly newspapers shelved by grocery store entrances and exits. Though I am employed, I grabbed one a couple of months ago just to see what was what. And … Continue reading

Election 2012 ~ Is it Over Yet?

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Just another couple of days and Election 2012 will be over. Not a moment too soon… I live in Ohio. Where there is a constant stream of television commercials. Our phone rings off the hook. We’ve even had people knock on our … Continue reading

Senior Pictures ~ A little more sharing…

Yesterday, I shared one of Daughters senior pictures. Admitted that I can’t click-through the photos without crying…

They don’t make me sad. Not at all. Nor do I long to go back. Or regret missing out on anything. Especially my crazy hair.

And YES. I was a teenager in the 80’s. Hair was BIG. We used ‘Stiff Stuff’ hairspray to maintain the volume. My daughter was born in the early 90’s. Hair hadn’t flattened out yet.

So anyways, for 35+ years, I NEVER cried. But at 41, I tear up easily. These days, the word ‘car’ does it for me.

Here are a few more senior pictures. Click on the arrow that pops up and you can scan through the slide show. I’ll spare everybody all 375….

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Why the tears?

Because I appreciate them. Good photography is art. As a writer, marketer, designer and such, I appreciate the vision.

When I look at these photos, I don’t see a contrived smile.

I see all the expressions I’ve seen each day for nearly 18 years. Daughter has always been an open book. What she is thinking travels right across her face. Irritation. Discomfort. Sadness. Joy. All of it. She can’t hide it. And doesn’t choose to.

When she told me that during the shoot, they stopped for a moment because “Bob the Beagle” had to go outside, “to go potty” I knew which photos were shot on that trip outside. I can see her amusement in them.

So when I click-through my 375 photo gift (And they are a gift…), I’m flooded with memories. I’ve seen every look in those pictures 1000 times. Maybe more.

At Daughter’s gymnastics show, when the lights went down. The music came on. And I was dumb enough to be excited for the performance. Her class marched out. And Darling Daughter checked out. Sat down, indian style, facing away from the audience because she didn’t want to take part.

Or when she took classes at a local dance school when she was in middle school. And she was lovely when she performed on stage. I knew she was coordinated, but had no idea she was graceful enough to carry off ballet, her movements soft and flowing. I would have thought she would be too shy to open herself up on stage.

I see the girl who slams doors and stomps off. Who squirms when all eyes are on her. Who is proud when she accomplishes what she doubted she could. The determination. The aggravation. It’s all in those photos.

And I’m excited for her to be a Senior in high school. For her to choose a college and a future, to spread her wings. I’m so grateful to be a part of it. To have her in my life. She has been the most extraordinary gift to me.

And looking at those photos reminds me of that.

SPECIAL THANKS: To the ex, who set up the experience for our Daughter. And graciously paid for it.

THE LOOK: For those who wondered yesterday…Daughters creamy peach dress was from Tiffany Rose Antiques in downtown Willoughby, Ohio. A  vintage 1950’s party dress. She also wore 1970’s Sarah Coventry jewelry that I got at an estate auction last winter–and that she wore to prom last spring. Daughter has been won over to my affinity for retro & vintage. I’ve sold it online for years and I’m in the beginning phases of setting up shop locally…