That Awkward Age (It’s not what you think)

Having survived my own forties, and endured my husband’s, I now   have friends picking my brain in the quest for understanding of the baffling and conflicting restlessness tormenting their psyches.

People who are single or divorced often marry or remarry during this decade, and those who blushed their way to the alter fifteen or twenty years ago are mired in mortgage debt, car payments, orthodontist bills for their kids, who are all in expensive sports or activities. They are coping with aging parents, cantankerous teens, and are mourning the loss of excitement and romance. Trapped.  Unhappy. Wearing masks and expending enormous amounts of energy in role playing, in attempting to appear well-adjusted and content with their lot in life. Charades.  Facades.  Desperate and discontent.

Daydreaming at length about escape to a better and more exciting life, there is a great deal of risk in cultivating opposite sex friendships on the job or in clubs or organizations, even at church.  Delusion only works on your own mind, you can convince yourself, but no one else, that getting closer to this person is harmless and won’t go anywhere.

You have a lot to ponder. You may not do it objectively. The fantasy will never live up to the reality of the consequences of jumping ship at this point. Happily ever after truly is a fairy tale. You have more to lose than you think.

In your dreams, when you contemplate life on the other side of responsibility, do you have custody of the kids? If not, who does? Do they factor into your daydreams at all? When you’re thinking “The face that over cocktails looked so sweet just isn’t the same over shredded wheat”, are you aware that breakfast with the fantasy partner won’t all be black lace teddies and champagne? Unless you land a millionaire your standard of living is going down, not up.

The forties are when you find out if you ever grew up. It’s tougher and more of a reality jolt than adolescence. You have a lot to weigh.  If the relationship was always bad, leaving may be the right thing to do. Perhaps now is the time if you have only been there for years for the children. (I am NOT dispensing advice, legal or otherwise.) But if it was good once, talk to some couples who stayed together and are still kicking well past their forties. All decisions have consequences.

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