A second marriage requires more negotiation than a first from the outset because we come to it at a later stage of life. That’s just an obvious truth. As an empty nester, the topic of where we like to spend our free time and things we love to do is a key topic from the outset. But sometimes what you discussed initially isn’t always how it plays out. But, it’s not necessarily a deal breaker as time has a funny way of softening our edges.
I was 48 when I met Bill and he was 56. I loved skiing and he loved Florida where he’d spent time as a kid fishing off the piers of Naples with his grandfather. He had wonderful memories..
Whether we would spend time in Florida was a topic we needed to address. I wanted to take Florida off the table and this was just one piece of the challenge of creating a union between two fully formed lives.
The truth is both first and second marriages are all about negotiating. A good marriage is about getting what you want and feeling like the other person got what they want too (even if they didn’t). And that’s why we didn’t go to Florida.
“I will never spend time in Florida unless I have to!!” That’s what I told my husband when I first met him 13 years ago and clearly my sentiments did not have the essential elements of negotiation. He actually owned a condo in Naples and I tried a visit but after one weekend I was pretty clear about what I thought of the place,
“I am not going to the land of walkers, oxygen tanks, canes and bad drivers, I hate hot weather and I need real nature, not fabricated environments.” “I don’t get the whole gated community thing and there are strip malls everywhere.” “ I think Florida will dull my brain and I can’t imagine I could relate to people who go there.”
Since I was a little girl I too visited my Nana and my Mom on the east coast of Florida. But those visits were not about cozy fishing trips. Those visits were about dressing up for fancy dinners and that Florida felt fancy. Frankly, it never felt like my vibe. I never imagined it would part of my life. (I think I said “Never” 2 times in those 2 sentences).
So, Bill sold his place in Naples after we got married as I had no intention of ever going and that was that. Bill is such a good sport.
The next part of the negotiation (oh gee, maybe that first part doesn’t really qualify as a negotiation), was about my favorite sport in the winter…skiing. The truth is I have had fantasies my whole life of being a ski bum. I love everything about the sport and people it attracts. Bill didn’t feel the same way. However, we went on a few ski trips and although he was a pretty good skier he wasn’t smitten. Nevertheless, Bill worked hard at it and over the years he got better and so Colorado was where we spent our winter vacation time skiing with friends and sometimes our kids.
This past summer after my son got married at 10,000 feet at the mid station in Beaver Creek Colorado, we talked about trying out a place to live in the winter. Bill had fallen in love with Colorado as well, not necessarily skiing every day, but the beauty of the mountains.
So we began our negotiation. And, this time Florida became part of the discussion because it seemed only fair as we weighed out what it would be like to live in a cold versus a warm place. The edges had begun to soften.
Pros and Cons of Colorado vs, Florida
As each of us can work remotely we started to imagine what our days would be like in both places. Colorado in winter is about snow. Skiing, snowshoeing, cozy days and nights indoors. It also requires good knees, and efficient blood circulation. The truth is the cold isn’t as easy to deal with as it used to be and I have become a tad more selective about when I ski opting in for ideal powder days or sunny warm spring conditions and opting out for the rest. Nature in Colorado attracts not only great wildlife but hardy folks I can relate to. Regarding the kids, with 4 boys and 2 wives between us, the kid geography meant Colorado is closer for 3 of the kids on the west coast but further from one of our married kids and our new grand baby on the east coast.
So, there was plenty to think about.
Florida: Our friends had moved to Delray Beach so we went to visit and it was shockingly fun, young and lively. This did not look like the Florida I had in my brain. Our marriage had matured, and maybe I had just a tad. With an open-mind and shedding the old creaky Florida image, we began to weigh the pros and cons of warm weather living.
It turns out there’s nature in Florida. Over the past decade, my activity level has morphed a bit. Less long distance running, more walks. My patience level has improved and I like many of the slower activities like cards (Cannasta), Birding and Photography. Florida offered plenty of that and more. The activities are unlimited. We love golf, pickle ball, swimming and biking. Long walks on the beach and outdoor dinners in cafes and all this was starting to look pretty compelling. I shocked myself by saying, “Ok honey, I think I’ve come of age, I would like to try the warm weather option. It will be kinder on our bodies and if we are going to try one vs the other, Florida seems like an easier place to try.
So we did and we even had two of the 4 kids and our grand baby visit us.
As the winter winds down and we close up the rental, we are beginning to discuss whether or not to do it again. I think this may be one of our easier negotiations.