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A Few Roses Short of a Bouquet

A Few Roses Short of a Bouquet
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BY ELLEN FELDMAN

As I’ve mentioned before, I’m a statistical anomaly. I was a first time bride at the age of 60. My dear friend, who runs this website, has been after me to write about what it is like to come to a marriage so late in life. Oddly, I’ve been resistant. Because what I have to say is not politically correct.

When the earth’s crust was cooling and I was in college, Woman’s Lib was just getting started. There was a slogan being shouted then: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle.” As far as I’m concerned that was proof that the wrong woman got control of the microphone.

To be perfectly clear: I wanted love; I wanted a home and family. I wanted a man in my life and did everything I could to get one. I killed myself in exercise classes trying to keep a good figure. I tolerated such crap from second – no third – rate men because there was the Hollywood induced fantasy that I could be a good enough woman to make one of them into a decent man.  I was “open,” “available,” “a good sport,” “in the right place,” “taking risks,” yadah yadah yadah. Still I never even got close, never even once. Dating horror stories were all I had to tell.

And the years were going by fast. There came a time when I was told – by those supposedly “in the know” – that I had more chance of being hit by lightning than finding a husband.

Now came some of the worst times, because the people I would look to for support were done supporting me. Most annoying where those who told me that because I was alone I must have wanted to be alone. Amateur therapists suggested I was gay. Professional therapists thought I could talk my way out of needing what I needed.  Totally useless – as if a person could talk themselves out of needing vitamin C. Human beings did not descend from coyotes and eagles – we need companionship.

Even my own grandmother gave me a big hug and declared “I don’t know why they pass you by.”  At my father’s funeral a “dear family friend” (may she rot) walked up to me and said “He deserved grandchildren.”

Even if everyone I knew was tired of me and my problems, I needed support. There were weekends when I would leave my desk on Friday and not speak to another human being until Monday. There were times I was so lonely, I thought I knew where madness came from. I would see crazy ladies in the street and think I was on my way. If, after a long day at work, and then 2 hours in the gym, I did not shower, slap on makeup and park myself on a bar stool, there would be someone who would accuse me of  “ not really trying.”  It was exhausting.

Lonely was one thing, let’s not even talk about horny. Horny led to some embarrassing misadventures as well. The biological imperative was also a killer. I was dying to have children. I would follow women pushing strollers around just so I could get a peek at a baby. I cried for a decade. I never made any peace with it; there just comes a time when you can’t cry anymore.

It wasn’t all pathos, of course. I, like so many others, did make a life for myself.  I developed a strong, independent persona. I had a career that was meaningful.  I had some fine friends and some great times. Someone once said I was her hero because “you never let being alone stop you from doing the things you like.”

Then lightning struck.  I met the right man for me and married him.

So here is the big news: Married is better!

What’s it like to come to it so late?  Thank God! What’s changed? The pain is gone. How is life different? I can pursue interests instead of men.

I have never been happier in my life. To not be lonely after all those years alone is a happy ending for me. I travel for work and can be away from home for weeks at a time, but I compare my independence to a 4 year old running wild in a playground. Completely free as long as Mommy is on the bench. I can go anywhere as long as I know I come home to a man who loves me.

Sex?  The answer is yes. It’s not (usually) the marathon, Karma Sutra sporting event depicted in modern entertainment – but whose sex life is?  We are much calmer about discovering alternatives and much more patient about timing. We are both much more open to giving and receiving simple physical affection and that can go a long way.  Maturity does have its rewards.

My politically incorrect conclusion: A woman can be a complete person without a man; but she doesn’t have a complete life.  It doesn’t matter if you are 60 or 26, having a partner for your life is the most beautiful rose in your bouquet.

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