Sex and the suburbs

5 Apr

I recently had a conversation with a friend, who is the mother of a lovely and bright daughter–a college freshman. She recently met a boy on her campus.  He’s a sweet, ambitious, smart boy and he’s handsome. He likes her, she likes him. You get the picture.

The mother is over the moon about this budding relationship and has pretty much told every friend she has about it, including me. I found myself excited, almost as excited as the mother. I asked her all kinds of questions (as I tend to do when it comes to human behavior).

How’d they met? What was their first date? Has she brought him home yet? Where’s he from?

She happily provided the answers.

(In the library, a Starbucks, no, Maryland).

I’ve been checking in with the mom over the last several months eating up every detail about her daughter and the new guy, like a junkie, needing another hit, a high.

Things are still going along well. They are now figuring out summer plans, internship schedules that won’t keep them a part for too long. He might do Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans. She doesn’t have anything yet.

Ah, the  longing. When you’re away from each other and feel as if you just can’t stand another minute and then there’s the tingling when you are finally together.

While I was walking Charlie the other day a thought came to me (as is my wont, especially considering that Charlie is too preoccupied sniffing and peeing to have any real conversation with me). I began to think about why I was so interested in my friend’s daughter’s budding relationship. I barely know her. I don’t know the guy at all, and then I realized: It’s not about them. It’s about me. It’s about being middle-aged, married for 21 years and living blase in the ‘burbs.

There is no romance in my life.

Now, my husband Cliff does do romantic things–he sends me flowers, buys me jewelry on Mother’s Day and my birthday. We try to go out on dates (of course there’s always some other commitment–baseball games, meetings, chauffering) but we do always have a big date on our anniversary. I appreciate all those things (and even more the little things–like a thoughtful note, his commitment and patience as he coaches our son’s baseball team, the way he was with my mother as she lay sick and dying). I love it all, but, romantic it is not.

I know some of you are reading this and thinking–what is she complaining about. I’m not complaining. I am talking about what happens to us as we age out of a certain phase of life. I am mourning that reality.

I bouced this idea off three friends: a 68-year-old divorced psychotherapist, a 55-year-old college professor and a 45-year-old stay at home mom. They all agreed.

The  therapist said that demise of romance is also about coming to terms with our mortality. I hadn’t quite thought of it that way. I do remember, however, thinking when I was young and having lots of dates and more than my share of boyfriends, that this was good experience for me to have so that when I became an old woman, I’d have lots of romantic memories. I would remember as I rocked on my porch.

Thing is, I didn’t, we didn’t, think about the decades between say 50 and 75, when you’re not old, old–when you’ve still got some joie de vivre (or you do in your mind and your girlfriends assure you that you do.)

What is there to do? Do you leave your lovely husband (who you couldn’t wait to be with when you were dating) and chase a romantic ideal? Most grown women would say no–but who’s to know.

For me, I’m still going to eat up details about my friend’s daughter’s relationship and I’m still gonna hang with my husband.


5 Responses to “Sex and the suburbs”

  1. desiree f. tolson April 6, 2013 at 9:31 am #

    Hey B my husband and i have been married for 20plus years and i was just thinking about the romance in our lives, we are home alone our children are married and we have 20 grand children 10 great grands 8 great great grands,my husband has 9 children and i have one, he’s 74 and i’m 56.At this point in our lives we have to make romance happen i’m going to hang in with my husband and act like teens because we are home alone and loving it!!!!!LOL

  2. Carmen April 7, 2013 at 1:58 am #

    Fascinating! My husband and I often do this thing where we intentionally “redefine” the nature of our relationship… coopting new ways to be with one another. This pradtice is actually refreshing and serves as a vehicle to keep our “love affair” relevant and current. And… I must say that fourteen years later I’m still inspired by his presence and how our more “evolved selves” continue to find new ways to keep our “love affair” fresh.

  3. Andrea April 8, 2013 at 12:22 pm #

    A large part of romance is the pursuit of connections-physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual. The challenge in our marriage maybe a lack of mutual connection. Often we seek different points of connection at this phase in our lives

  4. Andrea April 8, 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    At this phase in my life I think so much of romance is the pursuit of connections-physical, emotional, psychological or spiritual. The challenge in a marriage is we may seek different connections throughout the journey. How to be authentic,in tune with you soul while keeping it grown and sexy with your husband?

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