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25 ways to say I love you

This September my husband and I celebrated our 8th year of marriage and 10 years together.

These benchmarks inevitably lead to moments of reflection.

Two of the biggest challenges for us over these past 8 years are around our kids and how and where we spend our time together.

These reflections got me thinking about the choices we have made.

My husband who had said he would be retiring does not appear to be. That took some getting used to because we had both thought by now we would be figuring out that piece of our life. I was hoping, at this point, we would no longer be negotiating for free time but we are definitely still carving out our work schedules to make time for each other.

At the age when many retire, my husband works at the same pace he did when I met him 10 years ago. He will say, “I’m not working nearly as hard as I did before you met me.” “How is that humanly possible,” I think to myself.

The truth is, my guy loves the excitement of deadlines, the creativity and the adrenaline of new projects and it definitely keeps him young. He’s fully engaged and energized and still has time to play golf and tennis, go out with friends in the evenings and listen when I need him to –so what more can I ask for?

Besides, I’m happily working harder as well too, which comes as a big surprise. I’m spending more time than ever on Betterafter50 and loving the creative process. I had no idea when we launched 5 years ago that my work would still be the one thing on my calendar that is not negotiable.

We are constantly entertaining the conversation about where we will live when he is no longer tied to his work in Boston and what “retirement” will look like.  But, shockingly, these conversations appear to be premature. Short of “forcing” retirement on either of us — we are carrying on without a road map.

But, apparently, we ought to be spending time charting our next phase with an intention in mind  and a focus on “designing our lives.” 

It was with great interest that I read the New York Times article “Want to Find Fulfillment at Last? Think Like a Designer.”  It’s being offered to undergrads at Stamford by two Professors entitled: “Designing Your Life.” The professors are in their late 50’s and early 60’s. I wanted to register immediately but i’m over age.

The course is full of work shopping and brainstorming leading the students to define and embrace what they love before they get saddled with debt, family and obstacles. 

Not only do we need to do this kind of reflecting and planning but I wish all kids were required to take this course as part of their undergraduate curriculum. Which brings me to the second unexpected part of what I didn’t expect in this second marraige —

The kids!

Both of my boys are putting in 60 plus hours a week working and as a Mom it’s hard not to engage every so often in the “fulfillment” conversation – whether they bring it up or we do.

My husband and I have 4 boys between the 2 of us. In a second marriage, although his boys are my steps and came into my life as young men – living through their life choices has been an important point of connectivity for our marriage.

We often find ourselves coaching one another about what or what not to say to them about their choices. In fact, the “step parent” status is surprisingly helpful as we each get to be less emotional and more objective about the other’s kids.

We both have had the talk with them about “are you happy with your work.”

I often imagined were my boys’ dad still alive –what this phase would have looked like. I am sure they would have leaned heavily on him and he would have had a lot of input as he was an extremely involved parent but the objectivity piece would have been lacking.

But my husband, I call him a “stepped-up step dad” because he is so good at parenting my boys, has become an essential sounding board for the boys. He  has the benefit of being one-step removed – thus less emotional and reactive.

 As a single mom, our co-parenting has turned out to be the most rewarding silver lining of our marriage. We have truly managed the balance between stepparent and birthparent . We both adore all 4 boys and care about the paths they are on. It’s been a real bonus that I had never anticipated.

 

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