You Can't Hurry Love
An Intimate Look at First Marriages After 40

Chapter 1: Choice vs. Chance

“The soul cannot exist in peace, until it has found its other.”

—Carl Jung

The first words out of Bonnie's mouth were, “I never believed it would happen to me-never in a million years!” Even after two years of marriage, she was still the blushing bride-blushing but not the least bit shy. We settled in around the table in the sunny breakfast room of her duplex apartment. And before we could ask our first question, Bonnie began reminiscing about the magical moment that had led to her first marriage, at the age of forty. Her dark blue eyes danced between us as she recreated the scene.

I would have chosen marriage years earlier, had I been given the choice. But I didn't meet Bill until I was thirty-nine. After years of fantasizing about "the proposal," his came very close: dark restaurant, candlelight, my hand in his under the table. Still, I thought I was just on another romantic date with the guy I had grown to love in a very short time. We were sitting there and suddenly he looked at me long and hard without speaking. Finally he said, “I have something to give you.” I got so nervous I started saying, “No, no, I'm too scared.” But he clasped my hand in his anyway and whispered, “Will you marry me?” And I said, “Yes!” I could barely finish my meal, I was trembling so. After all this time, after all my doubts, I had finally gotten engaged. I was so excited that as we drove downtown to the concert hall, I rolled down my window, stuck my head out, and shouted, “I'm going to get married!” I thought, even if, God forbid, we ever broke up, at least I got engaged.

If we are honest with ourselves, there is a little bit of Bonnie in most of us who have never been married by the time we reach midlife. That is because, in the deepest recesses of our hearts, a strong pulse beats toward relationship. We are programmed to bond with another human being; something inside of us longs to recognize our soul's counterpart in another's.Through a loving union we attempt to bridge our human separateness and soothe our sense of isolation. But these days the search seems exhausting and, often, unending. Many of us fear we will never find love. With wavering hope we look forward to a time when we can actively care for the life and growth of our chosen mate, and they for ours. And when we finally do find love, we are elated and not a little relieved.

By midlife we have considerable life experience to help us in making an intimate relationship work. We are more "ready" than ever. Our own identity is firmly established. We know our own frailties and limitations and are in a better position to love someone for who he or she really is as a human being, independent of our own expectations and fantasies. We also know that we are responsible for our own happiness or unhappiness. With these understandings under our belt, we have the potential to love in a mature way. Once the ability for mature love is developed, it is finally possible to build a "true marriage."