How I let the pandemic change me – relationship
This is a harder post to write because it involves other people…so I won’t talk much about them. Suffice to say that my long term relationship unravelled as the pandemic progressed and so after a decade I find myself single again in my mid fifties. I am not the only one. 63 percent of all midlife divorces and initiated by menopausal women. I have women in my networks going through the same thing; where they love their partners, like them, are grateful to have had years with them, but are ready to move on.
The menopause is a time when women’s bodies change hugely and with falling oestrogen and oxytocin, many women step into a time where they are less interested in pleasing everyone else, and more interested in their own needs, often, for the first time in their lives. Children are older, there are fewer years ahead than behind, there is no hiding from aging and mortality.
The pandemic brought this up close and personal. Death was in the ether. Life was put on hold. Plans stayed in diaries. Then as we re-emerged, we had different ideas of what we wanted next.
I still feel a sense of failure and a hint of shame. I still feel the weight of the mighty narrative of one person forever, and as my fourth long term relationship ends, I feel like I have fallen short of that dream. Then I look around and see how few people are living that dream. I know a few couples who have a long term relationship which is thriving and alive, but they are certainly not the majority. Life has changed. We live longer, women have financial independence and can raise children alone.
Given that my generation has seen increased divorce and lowered marriage rates, it seems to me that one of the things that we might usefully learn and teach our children is how to break up with grace, love and compassion. I certainly have not managed to do that until this ending. It requires skills such as communication, patience, tolerance, acceptance and care for the other person. I see this very much as us re-forming our relationship in a new way, rather than ending it. I hope that we remain family to each other for the rest of our lives, but in different roles. It takes time to feel into this and there are of course painful aspects. So far, so good. I am proud of us.
So now what? This is a new phase. I have had my children and don’t want more. They don’t need a male role model, they have people in those roles. I don’t need someone to make me secure. What matters now is different from before. All the landmarks of younger relationships: engagement, marriage, moving in, having kids, are no longer relevant. The territory is more uncharted. Do I want to live with someone again? What does commitment look like at this stage of life? I don’t think I would marry again. At this stage in life people have mainly been divorced or widowed and many have kids…a new relational landscape.
Let’s see what happens next.
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