Midlife Marriage: 6 Ways To Balance You, Me & We

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Relationship Coach: Dating Advice For Women Over 40
"Maybe I can do everything alone, but I sure prefer doing most things with him."

In a recent New York Times story about modern love, the writer talked about how she learned to peel back her staunch independence to blend her life with her husband's. This is something I know a lot about — being a midlife bride myself. I married for the first time at 43, and I can vouch for the effort it takes to successfully intermingle two lives already in full swing.

The author, Paula Derrow, spent her younger days deeply focused on her writing career. When she met her husband Randy at 45, they began a long distance relationship that suited her independent lifestyle. After they tied the knot, they continued to live apart for two years, alternating between their homes in New York and Connecticut.

Then Paula lost her job, which started a chain of events slowly leading her to release some of her independent ways. Many women wear their independence like a badge of honor, and let's face it. We don't need men today — we can do everything ourselves. But the question is: do you really want to do everything alone? Paula was unaccustomed to relying on anyone else and hesitant to consider there could be benefits to becoming part of a "we". Losing her job and starting a freelance business made her reconsider and take steps towards a new lifestyle with Randy — one of interdependence.

As a dating coach for women, I can tell you I went through this shift as well. Romance had been sparse for me between 22 and awaking on my 40th birthday. On that cold January morning, I realized something had to change, or I might remain single for the rest of my life. I was having a good time, enjoying my freelance marketing business, raking in the dough, traveling with girlfriends and socializing up a storm. Just not with men. I thought I never met any interesting men, but the truth was I just wasn't open to them.

Cresting 40, I assessed my single status, did some soul searching and decided to change my romantic karma. This sparked the start of my journey to find love. I dated 30 men in just 15 months to find my husband Paul. This history is now the foundation for my dating coaching services. Connecting with Paul is when the real journey began — learning how to manage my life with another person involved. Here are the six ways I had to adjust... and the happy results that followed. 

Change from me to we
After dating for a year, Paul moved in so we could more deeply test our compatibility. We set up cohabitation with an exit strategy in case things didn't work out as planned. Paul moved in for three months without giving up his place, so we could decide to either get married or part ways. We've been together now 15 years, so you know the outcome. Arriving there required learning and unlearning, compromising, and understanding.

Change in socializing behaviors
When Paul first moved in, that caused a ripple of changes. Obviously, I had to make physical room in my closet, bathroom and kitchen. But living with a man impacted several other less obvious areas of my life as well. For one, Paul and I hadn't been seeing each other more than three times a week, so the move changed my desire for socializing. I continued getting together with friends, but not at the same pace. My normal week often included about six nights out, but now I wanted to stay home more often.

Change in mealtime
We didn't eat the same kind of food, which turned dinner into a negotiation. I ate mostly vegetables and fish whereas Paul enjoyed typical bachelor fare including pizza, burgers and fries and Chinese takeout. Over time, he learned to enjoy healthier meals, but it took some doing. In the beginning, we ate together, but not always the same food.

Change in schedules
We also had very different work schedules. Paul had to be at work by 6AM, so he went to bed at 10PM and set the alarm for 5. Being my own boss, I usually shut off the lights around midnight and woke at 7AM. I had two choices: going to sleep later than Paul or with him. Since I wanted to snuggle before falling asleep, I had to shift my time clock to make this possible. After some adjustment, I discovered I loved waking early and got so much more done, leaving my early evenings free for fun or relaxation. A few of my girlfriends found this horrifying. They could not believe I would make such a sacrifice for a man. For me, the modification paid off.

Change in consciousness
Other subtle situations came up that required growth. For example, Paul was a gentleman and let me enter a restaurant first. That meant the hostess saw and addressed me as the leader, cutting Paul out of the loop. I had to learn to be first in, but make way for my beau to take charge. I wrote an article about this called Dinner Date Feng Shui, with additional lessons on choosing a seat, ordering wine, handling the bill and the like.

Change in chores
Lastly, when the time came for taking care of household chores, I needed to learn how to divide and conquer. Maybe that sounds obvious, but it was harder than you think. One time we went to Home Depot to buy replacement filters for the water filtration system. The store was out of the model we needed, and we had to figure out an alternative. My instinct was to get help from a service person. Paul preferred to figure it out himself (just like a typical man's desire to refuse to ask for driving directions, right?)

Once back in the car, he explained his humiliation as I talked to the Home Depot guy while he stood there. He expressed that didn't need my help to figure out how to fix things, which is very true. But I was used to getting things done myself. I had to open my mind to the best course of action for the future — let Paul get supplies on his own, rather than get in his way or embarrass him. 

Each one of these situations represents an opportunity where I learned to shift my behavior and make room in my life for the man I love. I could take care of myself, but liked having a partner and relinquishing some control of our life together. Subduing my "chick-in-charge" persona might not have been the easiest goal I ever accomplished, but, as a dating coach for women over 40, I can tell you the journey to find love pays off in countless and wonderful ways. Maybe I can do everything alone, but I sure prefer doing most things with him.

Are you an over 40 woman struggling to find love? As a dating coach for women 40+, I provide proven dating methods that have helped thousands. Get more tips in my FREE book 5 Big Turnoffs That Drive Men Away. Let me help you find love with the right man and avoid the many potential pitfalls along the way.

Relationship coach advice on YourTango:

Article contributed by

Coach Ronnie Ann Ryan

Dating Coach

The Dating Coach for Women Over 40

Get my free book 7 Dire Dating Mistakes Women Make That Keep You Single here.
Author of MANifesting Mr. Right, Why Can't I Find Love and How to Sizzle Vs. Fizzle Online

Location: Milford, CT
Credentials: CCC, MBA
Specialties: Dating/Being Single Support
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