I’ve been widowed twice and found love both times I’m living proof you can find the right one over and over again
FINDING love as a senior is a story I know well.
I’m lucky. I have had two wonderful marriages and am now with the third great love of my life.
My first one, with Alan, was typical of young marriages. We were both ambitious and focused on our careers.
I loved her intensely, but I could be in need. When we had our two daughters, our family became our priority and we had to fight to save time as a couple. Sometimes we would argue and argue over little things.
By the time we were in our forties, we had grown, we fought less and we accepted each other more. We had found our place in our career – he was a litigator and worked long hours in a law firm and I was a freelance writer.
The girls were in school and life was easier. Then, at 49, Alan suffered a heart attack and passed away. Our daughters were nine and 15 years old. I was devastated. I was deeply distressed, but I was also worried about how we were going to fare financially.
He was making most of the money and I didn’t know how we were going to continue. I was afraid of being alone so I started going out too early. I had a few relationships but my need made me choose people who weren’t right, so I took a break.
Almost ten years after Alan died, I had learned to be stronger on my own and asked everyone I knew to come to terms with someone. But they hardly knew anyone so I tried online dating.
Almost ten years after Alan died, I had learned to be stronger on my own and asked everyone I knew to come to terms with someone.
It was exciting – there were so many beautiful people who were my age and, like me, were widowed or divorced. Many lived near me and had similar interests.
I could usually tell who to avoid, including anyone who looked too good to be true, anyone who wrote “hey, gorgeous”, or anyone who pretended to have fallen in love with me before they met me.
But I realized that it is a misconception that “all the right people are taken”. There are a lot of singles, of all ages. Whether you are 50 or 70, your age favors a unique potential for love. You are probably more emotionally stable and focused on the present and your relationship.
It was through online dating that I met Chris.
We had exchanged several emails and talked on the phone. Our first date was a great success – we met for dinner and I thought it was beautiful.
We had everything in common: we were widowed single parents, writers and avid cyclists. Chris proposed after nine months and we got married a year later.
Our wedding was beautiful and warm – all of our friends and family were so happy for us. We had the ceremony in my apartment. It was informal and happy.
My first marriage was very traditional, with the big white dress and a lot of relatives that I didn’t know.
It was wonderful in its own way, but my marriage to Chris was all about us – much smaller and more intimate.
Our love was deeply satisfying. Although he died too soon from lung cancer, after four years of marriage, I have never regretted a moment for loving him, despite my devastating grief.
When he was dying in the hospital, I knew I had to take care of his three children, who were then between 20 and 25 years old. They had lost their mother to cancer several years ago. I took them all there and told them that they were now “my children”.
I told them to hang out with their dad and say what they had to say even though they weren’t sure he could hear them.
I was much more flexible about the kind of man I wanted to meet. I surprised myself.
My children were also so sad, reliving the death of their own father. They consoled their brothers-in-law and sisters. After Chris died, I got into labor. But the first year has been horrible – I sobbed and sobbed.
I wondered though if I could risk love again. I could and I did. Four years after Chris died, I felt ready to meet someone new. I had already learned how to go online and was ready to try again.
Things that were important when I was younger seemed out of place and I was much more flexible about the kind of man I wanted to meet. I surprised myself.
Money or lack of money didn’t matter. I had moved into an apartment I could afford in New York City, where I have lived for many years. Status and ambition didn’t matter.
Children or no children? No matter. I met Michael, my partner for five years, when I was 69 and he was 73. After talking on the dating site OK Cupid, we met at an Italian cafe and connected immediately. He wanted to hear the story of my life and tears came to his eyes when I spoke of the loss of my husbands.
Michael, a semi-retired actor, is a sweet, caring and caring lover. I am now part of this wave of partnerships later in life. The number of divorced couples who remarry – 67% of those aged 55-64 and 50% of those aged 65 and over – reveals the extent of this trend.
Some people never have great love and I have had more than one. Everyone is a part of me and always will be.
This is happening because we are the first to live so long in such good health and to divorce in such large numbers after 50 years.
I am a big fan of having therapy when looking for love later in life. I’ve had it and it’s helped me tremendously – I’m not that needy woman that I was in my twenties and thirties.
At first I felt life was terribly unfair, but I came to feel lucky. Some people never have great love and I have had more than one. Everyone is a part of me and always will be.
- Adapted by Natasha Harding, editor-in-chief of The Sun’s Books. Francine’s book, Love After 50: How To Find It, Enjoy It And Keep It is published by Simon & Schuster, priced at £ 20, and is out now.
TIPS FOR KEEPING LOVE ALIVE
DO YOU WANT to build a lasting partnership with your other half? Relationship expert Dr. Pam Spurr reveals what YOU can do to keep the spark alive.
FORGIVENESS: It might not be easy to forgive your other half when you feel wronged, but Dr. Pam says, “There are things that are unforgivable like mental or physical abuse. Otherwise, forgiveness is the key to a lasting relationship.
“If you ask for forgiveness, use ‘I’ statements. This is when you claim responsibility for what you did wrong by saying things like, “I’m so sorry I let you down. I want to learn from this. I want to know how it made you feel ‘. This clearly shows that you want to make amends.
DATE: Making time for each other will help keep the romance alive and help your partner feel cherished. Dr Pam says, “It’s a great idea to have date nights. I know some people roll their eyes at this idea, but it works.
“Regularly scheduling time to do even simple things like visiting the pub where you first met or surprising your partner by booking them tickets to their favorite band will keep things fresh. With a little imagination, you can make date nights something you will remember. Romantic gestures lead to more frequent sex, helping to avoid future problems between you in the bedroom that can be very difficult to resolve.
LEARN TO ARGUE: If you are going to argue, make sure that your end goal is resolution and not winning the war. Dr Pam says: “The willingness to accept responsibility on your side of the problem helps develop an ability to ‘argue effectively’.
“Do it by learning to be impartial and not to jump on your ‘opponent’. Dr Pam thinks there are no winners if one side tries to blame the other. She says, “Pointing fingers will never work in the long run. Are you perfect? In almost every problem, both partners play a part and can do things better. “
ALWAYS BE RELIABLE: Always make sure you keep your word when you say you’re going to do something. According to Dr. Pam, walking is vital. She says, “If you say you’re going to do a housework chore, do it. If you say you’re going to be somewhere to meet them at a specific time, do it. And if something is bothering you, give them a call or send them a message.
“I get so many people complaining about this problem. Reliability meets trust when it comes to a happy relationship. Never take your partner for granted in a way that you wouldn’t do to a co-worker or a good friend.
STAY POSITIVE UNDER PRESSURE: It is inevitable that you will come across difficult conversations, whether it is discussing finances, where you live, or issues with the children. But Dr Pam says it’s important to approach every difficult conversation with a positive outlook. She says, “Always make it a habit to start discussing any issue you need to discuss with something positive.
“Starting with a positive always makes the trickier things easier. For example, if you need to sort out issues with the money you spend, start the conversation by saying how much you love your partner. Having a positive as a springboard for more serious conversation can work wonders. These positives also allow you to focus on why you fell in love for the first time.