Middle-aged women more unlikely to find husbands


Published: Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, January 22, 2004 at 12:22 a.m.

While we may look twice at the elated man walking down the street with a hot babe young enough to be his daughter, we've grown accustomed to the idea that men, especially those marrying for the second time, are marrying younger women.

I feel young; I act young. I am full of energy and life. I have never been happier with me and with life. And, at 45, I am one of millions of women likely to stay single, likely to look for a husband, unlikely to find one.

Still, whether male or female, we can't blame men for choosing younger women. We may as well learn from it . . . something about both men and women, something about ourselves (we're not statistics).

To do that, we want to look honestly, without making the assumption that women are playing the role of martyr. Only some of them are.

About the time that men tend to shift their energy and look to relationships for more intimacy and fulfillment, women tend to shift their energy to new interests outside the home and family. While both men and women may be looking inward, they're apt to be drawn in different directions.

The man has probably focused on work and accomplishment for much of his identity; while the woman has probably focused on relationships for much of hers. In midlife, they're both looking for what they didn't fully pursue earlier.

It makes sense - men are biologically programmed to provide resources; women are biologically programmed to nurture family.

Hence, marriages - even satisfying ones - can be pulled apart during the next phase of life. If both partners understand what's happening, they can help to balance each other. They can redesign their roles to complement each other again.

And, in doing so, they may continue to find what they want in each other, instead of making a painful break.

You can probably think of a man who simply wants a hot babe to boost his male ego. But can you also think of a man who longs for the intimacy he never had or lost?

Can you think of a man who wanted to be the most important person in somebody's life again and found out there was a hot babe (or a not-so-hot babe) waiting with a pedestal?

Likewise, you can probably think of a middle-aged woman who wants to be in a relationship and can't seem to find a good man. But can you also think of a woman who has chosen - knowingly or unknowingly - to focus on outside interests at the expense of having an intimate partner? Can you think of a woman who finally, after devoting her time and energy to family, found herself yearning for more and going for it?

It can be appropriate to walk away from a relationship when it no longer allows you to be true to yourself; but before you walk away, look honestly at both your role and your partner's role, and find peace.

Nobody has to play the role of martyr. It has always been a voluntary role!

It's OK to walk down the street with a hot babe on your arm. And it's OK to walk down the street, leaving your kids and husband in charge of feeding themselves. We don't have to feel guilty for looking inward and following our bliss. The alternative is to live an unhealthy life - physically, mentally and emotionally.

If we understand the dynamics and see the next phase coming, we may be able to balance our needs with our sweetheart's. Maybe you can be the hot babe at 50 . . . and still pursue your dreams away from home. Maybe you can be the elated man . . . without ever leaving your first love.

The role that fits - whatever it looks like - is the healthy role, the happy role. Choose consciously.

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