This weekend I attended the wedding of a dear friend of mine. The following three things make this summer event exceptional: 1) My friend is fifty-six. 2) This is his second marriage. 3) It’s to the same woman he fell in love with and married the first time around.
Having never been married myself, I find such an idea unfathomable. Being a hopeless romantic and a firm believer in my friend, however, I find his courage and faith in the woman he loves and the family he is reuniting to be truly inspiring. I’m not one to cry at weddings but when I listened to the minister list a lifetime of joys and unspeakable sorrows, I couldn’t help but feel the healing had come full circle for this family and wept like a willow. If we can be patient with the process, love will save the day.
There is something exhilarating about finding love at midlife. Whether this love is with a partner you’ve known all your life or the one you met by chance at a conference in Orlando after accidentally walking into the men’s room, finding it again removes all memory of age and all semblance of sophistication. (Especially in the latter case.)
To me, love at midlife illustrates the classic case of hope triumphing over experience. By this stage of the game, if you haven’t had your heart broken a time or two, I would venture to say you haven’t really loved. Loving anything or anyone is a heartbreak waiting to happen. But who would willingly forgo the inexplicable thrill of love just to avoid the inevitable pain?
At midlife I’d like to think our chances of enjoying healthy and satisfying relationships are higher because we know who we are, what we want, and what we are or are not willing to negotiate. We’re not as likely to lose ourselves in another person because we have become a highly complex person in our own right with a purpose, passion, priorities, and quite possibly a penchant for plaid.
When we fall in love in our younger years we tend to believe we are falling for another person who holds the key to all that completes us. But as we mature, daring to fall in love offers the opportunity to fall in love with ourselves again. When was the last time our wickedly witty or secretly sassy self got to come out and play? And would the leopard teddy and four inch heels really be chosen over the ratty t-shirt and Elmo slippers under normal circumstances?
For a brief period of time the running list of what is wrong with us, what needs improving, and what is never going to happen in this lifetime gets thrown to the wind as we consider the possibility that by joining forces with Prince or Princess Charming, we have just received a get out of jail free card. We might actually be able to let go of the list of grievances against ourselves until the aforementioned royalty catches on.
Of course, if our beloved really is the Prince or Princess we know them to be, they’ll never catch on – or if they do, at least they won’t report their findings at the company picnic. They’ll remain that version of Shallow Hal that sees only the beautiful, the true, and the good. They’ll never treat us as terribly as we treat ourselves on a typical day of self-loathing.
These are just a few reasons why love is a many splendored thing. (Yes. Go ahead a click on the link to hear this unforgettably sappy song from the 50s. Did our parents really listen to this and subliminally subject us to knowing the lyrics for life?)
None of us can do it alone. We all get by with a little help from our friends. Last weekend, I was delighted to help my friend renew his vows and my faith in this thing crazy little thing called love. (Click on this to hear one of my favorite versions of this snappy – not sappy – love song. You wouldn’t expect to read all these words of love without a little love mix running in the background, would you?)