I was a tender 42 years old when I walked down the wedding aisle for the first time. (As the bride, that is. I was a bridesmaid eight times before I said “I do.”) I knew the wedding walk drill. But, I learned quickly that being married was a whole different story.
Marriage at any age takes commitment, dedication and attention. But, over the last four years of my marital union, I’ve come to realize that getting and being married after age 40 is different from entering marriage, say, in your 20s.
While I was a successful business woman and life adventurer for many years, I learned quickly once married that all that wisdom doesn’t necessarily translate to successful coupledom. So, I did what any grown woman would do. I sought advice. Two sets of people emerged to talk with: those who got married in their 20s and those who had never been married at all. They both looked at me like I was crazy.
I coined the term “Late Bloomer Bride” (LBB) for someone who married for the first time after age 40, when I found such little information around getting married “older.” If you are single and need dating or getting-married advice, you’ll find plenty of blogs, articles, and whole book sections. If you are divorced, widowed or embarking on a second marriage, you’ll meet the same plethora of resources. But, advice on how to navigate marriage for the first time over age 40? Well…
In fact, I found so little, direct advice, I started my own blog, www.LateBloomerBride.com, to bring focus and attention on the differences between a later-in-life, first-time marriage and others. I also was hoping to attract other LBBs and marriage experts who could weigh in from time to time. Soon, LBBs began to come out of the woodwork and underscore what I suspected all along – marriage is both easier and harder for us.
For instance, I am sure “younger marrieds” (YMs) don’t ask themselves (or others):
- What did you find most important in your prenuptial agreement?
- I’ve already been to Germany eight times. Do I have to go again (when Italy awaits) just because Husband has already decided he likes Germany better?
- Do I take his name or keep mine, the latter with which I’ve built up a significant professional brand?
- If I make more money than Husband do I get to spend whatever I want? Or, is it kind of rude to keep having the UPS man keep showing up with box after box of new shoes from Zappos?
- Do I tell Husband how many ex-boyfriends I had (he asked), and do I really need to get rid of my favorite La Perla lingerie set because it came from one of them (he asked)?
- I know (happily married) friend, Mary, helped him through that car accident, and my (happily married) friend Jack helped me move six times in the last eight years, but should they still be in our cell phone speed dial list?
- His house or mine? Or, if we do really ever build our dream house (our “final resting place,” because we’re hearing “that” age), how do we reconcile competing ideas of replicating Monticello versus Falling Water?)
The list seems endless.
If you are 26 and just figuring all this out – with a mate by your side – I submit it’s a far different experience than someone who is over 40 and just now having to deal – daily – with another’s mindset. Especially since you’ve already made up your mind about most things.
While younger marrieds develop ideas and positions together, amass assets jointly, and develop a rhythm as they grow into further adulthood, someone who has reached 40 has basically been there, done that. So, changing course later in the game, can feel like you’ve landed in an obstacle course – full of stops, starts, hurdles and obstacles. Other days, it can feel like suddenly your life purpose grew grander and your life is more supported. And sometimes, compromising can feel like cheating on yourself.
An LBB, after 20 years of living one way – and now attempting to live another way – will find marriage is quite the adventure. Some days its like rafting down class five rapids without a paddle. And, other days it’s like reaching a summit that reveals the most beautiful view lit up by a sunset.
Any LBBs out there with their own adventure story they’d like to share?
P.S. Thanks so much to Suzanne for writing this guest post. Be sure to visit her at LateBloomerBride, which is always a great read whether you’re a late bloomer or not.
Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments section.