Monday, March 14, 2011

Would you? Could you?

Picture us on our 20th anniversary of being a couple, sitting in a candle-lit Cuban restaurant, sipping sweet-tart mojitos, talking about death.

This is why: Not too long from now, we’ll make our first visit to a lawyer to prepare a will. Necessarily, we’re thinking about the thereafter for each of us. If I died, would you – could you? ­– move? Where would you live? If I died, would you – could you? – keep working? Would you – could you? – start dating?

Our waiter in the Cuban restaurant is a gentle man wearing a white shirt and a red scarf. He brings fish and pork. A couple arrive who look as if they are in their mid-20s. He wears a black shirt and a white bow tie.

If you dated, would you – could you? – ever consider again someone so not your own age?

Sheri tilts her head, stops chewing. “I didn’t look for a younger man 20 years ago,” she says. “He just showed up.”

“Well, yes.” Michael leans closer to speak more softly. “But now you could. So the question is, would you?”

“No. I’m not feeling very cougarish these days. I can’t imagine a man your age actually seeking out a woman my age. Can you?”

“It’s possible. But it’s not so easy to imagine as when you were in your 40s and I was in my 20s. I wasn’t looking for an older woman twenty years ago, either. It just happened. It could happen again, but I think I’d seek someone more my age.”

“That’s true of me, too. If a man were younger, he’d be five years or so younger, but not seventeen. Or five years older.”

“Interesting how there is such a strong impulse to seek a partner in your own age group. Yet we fell in love anyway. And it doesn’t mean it would happen again. Probably it wouldn’t.”

“It used to be, when I imagined your life after me, should I die, it was always with a younger woman, one who could bear children. Now that you’re heading toward 50, that picture is breaking up a bit.”

“That’s because she’d have to be 17 years younger.”

The gentle waiter brings us flan, and we share, dividing the final taste into ever smaller and smaller pieces. Sheri, looking over Michael’s shoulder, notices another couple. This woman keeps looking away from her date, eyeing the well-dressed man in black shirt and white bow tie. Her date is dressed in jeans and a baggy shirt, and Sheri smiles and Michael asks “What?” and she tells him. 


  1. It seems you've arrived at the most reasonable answer: who knows? Love slams you in the face --- like someone cold-cocking you with a dead fish -- when you're not looking.

  2. Thanks, houselove. Checking out your site, I notice your love is an 1897 Queen Anne. I suppose she qualifies as an older woman. Hmm. I see another blog post coming ...

  3. there is 15 years between me and my partner, im 40 and he is 25, we have been together . for 2 years, supposed to be getting married. But in the last month he has become very depressed, thinking about not having his own child ( although he has two amazing step sons that love him) and about being alone when i die.
    I understand these feelings are perfectly normal, I have had the worries that has I age he will seek out a more attractive younger woman, but I choose not to dwell on them, as I love my partner and he must love me, has he proposed. I want to help him deal with his thoughts, but he is blocking me out, pushing me away and fear he will run rather than deal with his emotions. How do you get through such things??

  4. Hello, Pam. Thanks for writing. We apologize for taking so long to respond. We've been out of the loop a bit on the blog (life, it happens!). Perhaps by now you and your partner have figured things out. Sounds like maybe the reality of his proposal and a life-long commitment are hitting him--which is understandable. I wonder, though, whether he is in fact dealing with his emotions--just not in a way that's open to you or inclusive of you. In which case, he just might need to be doing exactly what he's doing.

    I wonder whether you've introduced him to our blog? Maybe he'd benefit from just reading about some of my experiences, knowing there was at least one other person out there who has lived through similar concerns.

    But to answer your question: When Sheri and I considered marriage, I didn't have the kind of profound depression you are describing, so there was nothing I needed to get through. Later I did struggle with some of the problems you say your fellow is thinking about. But by then, Sheri and I were into our marriage and its rituals, and I knew that no matter how I felt about something, she and I would still cook together and walk the dogs together and argue over how to properly cut a tomato. In other words, I gave the priorityof the actions of marriage over whatever I might be feeling on a particular day. Because feelings change, go away, evolve. But if every day Sheri and I walk the dogs, watch a baseball game, go to the gym to lift weights, we've got a strong framework in which fears and concerns and uncertainties can change and change back and change again.

    I don't know of any of this helps. I hope so. I hope you and your partner are happily married in a couple of years. Best wishes to you both.

    Regardless, I hope you two work things out and find happiness.