I don’t want to sound like I’m bashing anyone, so please don’t take this the wrong way.
I was married for nineteen years to the love of my life. Everything in our marriage was shared. We raised four kids together. I spent ten of those years working a second shift so I could be the stay-at-home parent while she built her career. Then, when my turn came, she did all she could to facilitate my career efforts. Sadly, she was diagnosed with ALS in October of 2006 and died in November of 2009. I was the only caregiver until about a month before she died. As well as primary breadwinner, the only physically mobile parent, chief cook and bottle washer. Any serious career aspirations I had went up in smoke with her death as being half a parent wasn’t something I was willing to do for any job. And no, in case you’re wondering, she didn’t leave us a pile of money or anything else. I’m okay will all of that. It’s exactly what I signed on for when I said “I do”.
I dated two separate women after my wife died. Both of them in their forties. Each relationships lasted for three years or so. And both of them would likely have cheered your post. What my experience showed me was that women in their forties have a lot of expectations. And I’m not sure what exactly they’re bringing to the table in return for that. I don’t expect a maid (I cook some pretty amazing meals and I’ve always done my own housekeeping) or for my significant other to support me. In fact both of these women were accomplished career women who were single parents also. They knew exactly what I had lived (minus the lingering death of their spouse). The only difference being that I had a successful marriage that had lasted until my wife died. Both of these women had divorced after just a few years of marriage. Maybe that makes my experience limited but I found that after that initial “honeymoon” period, everything became about what I could do for them. Fix the cars, help them move, remodel the kitchen, take them on fabulous vacations, etc. I wanted a partner, what I got was a honey-do list. The more I did, the more they wanted me to do. At some point I just started feeling used. I never experienced anything like that with my wife so maybe my relationship picker is broken. All I know for sure is that what I read here is kinda what I would have expected those two women to have written. My wife would have dictated what she wanted in four bullet points:
- There must be respect. Without that, there’s nothing.
- Shared responsibility, for everything. That’s what a partnership is all about.
- Intellectual compatibility. If we can’t have stimulating conversations we might as well not be together.
- There better be great sex. See number 2.
You’ll note nothing in that list is an “I want”. It’s all about how do two people make a great relationship. Concentrating on oneself is a recipe for a broken relationship.
I don’t date anymore. And that’s because I fully intend to be selfish for a while. One can’t be selfish and have a completely successful relationship. The two are mutually exclusive.