Monday, May 4, 2009

SWF in her Forties Seeks Balance

Unless otherwise noted, all materials on this blog are (c) 2009 by Madeleine Vedel

There is a moment after a separation, divorce, splitting of a couple, when women start wondering if it really is desirable to be in a couple. I say this as for a man we change, we adapt, we aim to please (or at least, I've done this). Am I fully me when I'm pleasing a man? Why am I different when I'm with my girl friends, or my kids. When your girlfriends notice that you are not yourself, as they know you, in the presence of your man, what do you do?

What choice is being made? Is it necessarily part of being in a couple that you shift your priorities and your behavior? I'm highly sensitive to the people around me, and more than anything to the shifting moods of my children and the man I am seeing. (when I have clients beside me, I am equally sensitive to their needs and pleasures) If they're not well, nor am I. I'm no longer self-contained and simply me facing the world. I'm porous, sensitive to the other, worrying a bit, or preening as the case may be.

I'm proud to be a chosen one, I'm proud to be with him. I'm pleased to be attractive and to attract. I'm delighted to partner, to assist, to participate. But, what am I giving up in so doing?

I question all this as I'm a woman who is more often than not in a couple. I've just been that way since I first started dating at the age of 16. Rare have been the moments when I've stayed single longer than a year. For good or ill, such has been my pattern. I've also had the experience of having friends prefer me when I'm not with my partner. This is not -- I think-- a good thing. To me this says that my personality, my being shifts so that my friends are unsettled by the me part-of-a-couple, and at ease with the me on-her-on.

In my same situation (divorced, coping on my own with two kids) many of my friends have opted, by choice or not, to not date while they recover from a divorce. The world is not kind to single women, and all their energy is needed to raise their children -- often countering the lessons learned at the father's house --and to find a job that will cover their basic needs. The job needs to be juggled with school hours, after school activities, shopping, cleaning, laundry, yard work, dealing with leaks in the ceiling, what have you. All activities that are more easily shared by two, but in this case, become the sole responsibility of the woman.

Blending these necessarily wearying responsibilities with dating a man, pleasing a man, spiffing up for going out, adapting to another's needs, it just isn't easy and perhaps it isn't desirable? Love and passion are glorious, but they can also leave you drained, and weaker than before rather than stronger. How to cope on all that is waiting for you back at the house, if you're distracted and sleep-deprived?

In this world, as it stands today, is it possible to find a partner mid-life? What concessions must we make? Or do we turn our back on this dream, and live our lives, raise our children, cope as best we can on our financial worries. Is it simply better to accept that the world is so designed that we are very much alone to manage all this, and the sooner we see this the better?

I've had feed back on this question. Many, oh so many, women simply realize that dating and raising children on your own don't go well together. Studies of the difficulties of children raised in single parent households be damned. So there's not a man full-time in your household, perhaps kids these days need more feminine attention, and this is appropriate to our moment in human development? As Joan Armatrading sings, "if women ruled the world..."


Nathalie said...

Your thoughts are really interesting, you know. I've never felt I was different (or not myself) when with a man.

I wonder how it works for you that you find yourself different in "pleasing a man" mode. Maybe this is worth more introspection. You might be onto something.

Thérèse said...

It's always very hard to dis-learn and re-learn our own way! I liked reading this post and will come back for more reading.

Madeleine Vedel said...

Thanks for the comments. I don't know if I'm simply responding still (as an adult) to an absent father, or I just have in me to please and be sensitive to others. But yes, it is glorious when that's just not an issue (as with my boys) and disorienting when I feel myself slipping.