Finding Love After 50 - Part One
By Lisa Adams Walter
Twists and turns, even tragedies and curveballs, create the paths of each of our lives. Never did I expect to be single in my 50s. As a hopeless romantic however, even in a stage considered to be later in life — I believe that love is within and around us, every single day.
Someone once told me to be open to finding love in the least expected places. For me, there could not have been truer words. When I met my significant other, I had long before decided that I was no longer going to look for love. Following losses, some poor choices and deep personal tragedy, I was an empty nester who had been on my own for more than a decade.
Many of us remember our “first loves” and relationships as stressful, confusing, producing awkward exchanges and plenty of angst. Fast forward several decades, and I can personally attest that when it comes to finding love, many of those feelings remain.
The excitement of attraction; the pitter patter flutter of the heart; the stress of figuring out a relationship; the desire for companionship; the more mature ability to be simultaneously generous, forgiving and grateful; the reality of each other’s pasts and “baggage,” and the constant practice of acceptance and patience. All can follow the actual rare chance of meeting someone who is both equally invested and willing to set aside established life patterns, as well as, finding a person willing to mutually trust and be trusted, and give love a try!
One day while lunching in Napa with my sister, looking out the window with my back to the room, I turned around and was introduced to Tim. After we parted ways, I said to my sister, “WHO was THAT?!”
He called a few days later (yes, he did not text, he very properly picked up the phone and called), then we dated (speed dated we now say), and the rest is history. We each have an adult child, and our lives and our families are now intertwined. While I was at first hesitant, those close to me advised that I should be open to him, that I deserved love. You know what? They were right.
On the first day of this year, two of my closest local girlfriends, both in their 50s, announced engagements to their partners — both (following past marriages and personal losses) said, “Yes!”
This made me think about several local friends, colleagues and contemporaries that have found love later in life. Several couples were willing to share their stories. So many, that part two of this story will be published in next month’s magazine. In their personal accounts, regardless of your age, you may discover some potentially helpful and hopeful, love-related advice.
More than a decade ago at my high school reunion, Vincent and Angela Davis, then unmarried, showed up together and seemed to have more fun than anyone else in the room. As I recall, they were an unlikely pairing. I have known Angela since we were infants, but I knew both of them in junior high and high school. Yet, later in life, they clearly clicked.
“We both feel extremely lucky to have found each other,” said Angela Davis who added that she has heard “Good Morning Q-T-ful” for 11 years now (cute-t-ful, so cute!), from Vincent who she calls an amazing man. “I would not change the stage of our lives in which we met at all.”
The couple attended school together from seventh grade through their senior year, yet did not know each other at that time.
Angela notes that while she has adult children that Vincent treats as his own, he had not been married prior, therefore blending their families and lives was very easy. Introduced by a mutual high school friend who performed their wedding ceremony, they are celebrating their fourth wedding anniversary this month. “Vince and I look forward to every day we get to laugh together. We might not live until our 50th Anniversary, but we make every moment count. Most of all, we have deep love and trust.”
Another Napa Valley couple I have also known since childhood, I recall that they were two of the nicest people in our high school graduating class. While they wish to remain anonymous, theirs is an extremely heartwarming story. Much of the tenderness is expressed from his side — for them, love and kindness lead in every situation.
He loves that they attended Kindergarten, middle and high school together, “We knew each other, but were in different circles. Over the years we met up over high school reunions and it was always wonderful to see her. But always in passing and friendly.”
Was he looking for love? “Absolutely not! When I first asked her out, it truly was just out of friendship. I was in a position in my life where I just wanted friends and I was no longer interested in getting involved in a relationship!” She agrees, “I was not interested in a relationship at all. I was very happy and comfortable with my life just as it was.” Now married, they together agree that they have been in the greatest relationship of their lives for six years.
To his surprise, “Once I spent time with her, I realized I had met up with the kindest, prettiest, most gentle, loving and kind person I have ever encountered. How could I not fall and fall deeply?!”
“We started out planning on just spending time together as friends, since we had known each other for such a long time,” she added, “It was very easy spending time together, we felt comfortable with each other from the first night we spent time together. The progression to becoming a ‘couple’ was very natural, it just felt right.”
“I was against ever having a relationship again. I was happy and my life was going fine,” he remembers. “With my kids, hobbies and career, I was happy without any conflict or strife. I was committed to being single and was happy with that decision”
I was definitely not expecting to find a relationship like this,” she said, “I truly never planned on getting married again.”
According to this couple, there are benefits and challenges of finding love later in life. “We know who we are and what we want, and can hopefully communicate that to those we care about,” he explained — though the extended, blended families and the struggles that can come up, can be a challenge.
She feels the same, in knowing who they are individually and what they each need, “Stepping out of your comfort zone, adjusting how you have been living for so long. Parenting styles are different, and you have to be understanding of the other partner’s way of handling things. I have a grown child. His kids are younger, one still a minor. We have very few things we disagree with, the one conflict would be the differences in parenting styles.”
Parenting and blending the families, he agrees, are the greatest joy and greatest strain. “Conflict and difficulties come up and almost always, we work through it together… in a kind and caring manner for all. Love and peace are the focus, but logistics and rationality also have to be worked through. Mostly quite successfully, but always with love and kindness. All problems are best addressed in a kind, loving manner with respect, and reasonable compromise with analysis.” They advise to avoid animosity towards those you love and care about, always find a way to be gentle and kind.
To solidify trust, he said, “Allow each other to make mistakes — loving and caring about each other enough to overcome those mistakes, and to grow and improve regardless of age.”
It is not always easy to combine two established lives he added. “It’s difficult especially at this time in our lives as many things are well-established and have been put in to motion for likely decades. Creating a life together I think is the key, and respecting and supporting all that we bring into this life we are establishing together. Making time for each other and making each other and our relationship our priority, while acknowledging that we bring a lot of complexity into this process. Being kind and inclusive, while also finding time to work exclusively on our relationship.”
“I feel blessed to have found such a beautiful, kind, amazing soul that has chosen to give her love to me — so I make efforts every day to celebrate her and acknowledge how amazing, wonderful, kind and special she is,” he disclosed, stating that he will always celebrate that there is an “us.” “I hope to do everything I can to celebrate and show her how much I love and care about her. To encourage her to have her friend relationships, and to insist she continues to spend time and effort to nurture those relationships, while also ensuring that I am being the best, caring, kind, loving partner that she deserves.”
“He is the most compassionate person I have ever met, always very gentle and loving,” she said. He concluded, “I feel blessed to finally have ‘met’ and fallen deeply in love with someone who was so near all this time. It gives me more meaning to life and appreciation of everything.”