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In Our Prime

“Middle Age”.  This phrase means so many things to so many people, but in general it is negative, or at least refers to having limitations placed on one’s life based on their age.

Part of the reason for this is that going back 50 years or more, when a person reached the middle age, which is normally defined as being between 45-65 years old, one’s health and energy had entered a period of decline. This was because a number of factors, most notably the lack of knowledge of how nutrition affected health, and the fact that it seemed inappropriate for people of that age group to be running around exercising. It just wasn’t “proper”.

Even though this has all changed, still many of us believe that once we hit middle-age things are just going to get worse. The good news is that this is no longer the case. Not only is it OK for men and women of middle age to be exercising, it has become “fashionable”. Whereas in the past, one used to be looked down upon for these activities, these days one is look up to.

In addition, new discoveries are being made every day about the best ways to have health and happiness. Not only have we found ways to make our bodies healthy, but we’ve also found ways to make our minds work well even into our later years.

Our motto here at middle-age.org is “Make the rest of your life the best of your life”. Now I know at this may sound like just some kind of hype, but in reality, it’s not.  Is it possible that our middle age may turn out to be our “prime” much more than when we were younger?

Now we’ll have to admit that we had some great times in our 20s, 30s and even our early 40s. But when we think back, a lot of our behavior was not based on intelligent and conscious choice. Some of us acted to impress our friends and even strangers. We manifested this in our drive for nicer homes, fancier cars, and sometimes trophy husbands or wives.

Others of us were driven by our hormones, and were just obsessed with finding the right guy or girl that would satisfy our fantasies, both emotional and sexual. Based on these drives, a number of us made poor choices, and sometimes paid for them dearly through bad relationships and messy divorces.

Speaking of divorces, statistics show that two thirds of all divorces are initiated by women. This, of course, doesn’t mean that they’re the “bad guys”.  Certainly in some cases, if not many, it’s because their husbands either have not been fulfilling their needs or the husbands have been playing around outside of marriage.

And lest we think that women are these fragile creatures, and crushed by the divorce, a survey done by AARP shows that 75% of women in their 50s reported enjoying a serious, exclusive relationship after their divorce, often within two years. Additionally, the men did okay as 81% of men in their 50s did the same.

And yet many troubled marriages do not end in divorce, or else they end long after the troubled period began. Surprisingly, the traditional moral taboo against divorce had very little effect on holding together troubled marriages. In most cases, children were the glue that held marriages to gather, with much higher numbers of men fearing that they would drift from their kids in the aftermath of a split. 58% of men, compared with only 37% of women, cited their children as the top reason they postponed a divorce for five years or longer

Many women do put aside their needs, including sexual, to focus on their kids. There are also many women who prefer the company of their girlfriends to that of men, who throw themselves into their career and/or travel, and love their freedom. There are also many women who want to find love again but give up after becoming frustrated, unhappy or uncomfortable with the 50+ dating scene.

On the other hand, there are older women who are happily dating or in relationships. According to that same AARP study, most women who divorce in midlife do find someone new.  75% of women in their 50s reported enjoying serious, exclusive relationships after their divorces, often within two years, compared with 81 percent of men in their 50s (although more older men tend to marry again than older women).

In that same study, more than half of the 2,500 single women over 45 said they were happier than they had ever been. And while most of them were open to having a good relationship, they weren’t obsessed with finding a new partner.

31% of the women polled had since found themselves in an exclusive relationship, another 32% were dating non-exclusively and about one in ten had no desire to date at all. 15% said they’d date the right man if he came along, but weren’t going to knock themselves out trying to find him.

So, what does this all mean?  It means that now that we’re older and wiser, we can either apply our maturity and wisdom to making our current relationships work much better, or if we’re we can make wiser decisions in seeking new partners and mates.

Although we still enjoy them, we are no longer seduced as if in a trance to chase after that handsome guy or cute gal. Amusingly, we may now look at someone who we would have lusted after 20 years ago, and say to ourselves “They are so full of themselves and self-centered! I sure wouldn’t want to be with them.”

On the other hand, once we are in our middle age, we may meet someone we wouldn’t even have given a second look to, “back in the day”, and think to ourselves “S/he is really a kind and considerate person, and someone I’d like to spend time with.”

So back to our motto “Make the rest of your life the best of your life”, you can see that middle-age can be the perfect time to apply what you’ve learned thus far to creating a life that may turn out to be a lot closer to the ideal you imagined when you were young.

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