AGING IN GRACE AND IN RELATIONSHIPS

I am now almost 53 years old and I have never had an issue with my age – especially since I cannot change it anyway. Every age has it’s advantages and disadvantages. What always amuses is when I hear from people: “I wish I were 16 again with the experience of today (coming usually from 40+ people). They always claim how much they would do differently and forget what the best thing was when we were 16. We were “unkaputtbar” – unbreakable – and invincible. The caution with which we would approach youth with the knowledge of someone that has more years lying behind than ahead, would most likely lead to being dead boring to others. You would overwhelm the other youths in so many ways – just consider sex. So every age has its merits that we should enjoy to the max and worry less about what we have lost.

What I personally do struggle with though – and I am sure I am not alone – is the physical deterioration. Someone once said that if you wake up in the morning, being 40+, and nothing hurts, you are most likely dead. That is a bit harsh but there is something to it. I am physically quite fit (for my age) but if I go out too long, drink too much or even eat to much, it takes so much longer to recover than 20 years ago. So there is a downside – when your 20 year old mind is stuck in 50+ year old body.

Just recently, doing yoga, I looked down my legs and thought: “who does that old woman’s skin on my legs belong to?” I immediately got some cream out and hoped I could stop the signs of time (isn’t that what good marketing tells us?) by smothering the skin of my legs in it. And then I started laughing and thought: “who really cares and why am I beating myself up about something I cannot change?” I do take care of myself and have a (I believe) healthy vanity. I want to age in grace. I want to age without hiding my wrinkles (I worked really hard on those). I want to age without hiding myself and conform to an ideal of beauty that cannot be fulfilled (at least not without photoshop or surgery) anyway.

The good thing is that we age gradually and adapt. I try to embrace all the changes over the years (some easier than others) and make the best of them. But how do we apply that to relationships? How do we let a relationship age gracefully?

It is really quite similar to actually aging. First we fall in love, we are happy, it is the “forever” we anticipate, we feel invincible and are sure it will always stay this way. But in a relationship we need to accept the little wrinkles and imperfections the warts and all that life will throw at us. We need to age and adapt through pain and sometimes even hardship as well as the happy times and the mistakes we make.

As we invest in our health and our body we need to invest in our relationship. If we do not care for ourselves, only eat junk food, don’t do sports, don’t care for our mental health we will most likely get seriously ill sooner or later and may die earlier that we should. In a relationship (or friendship) it is no different. We need to care for it, work on it, commit to it and invest in it. That is not always easy or even comfortable, but if we are willing to put in the effort we might just be rewarded with a long lasting, happy and satisfying relationship.

Today it seems that we are so easily replaceable. Through the media it appears as if there could always be someone better just around the corner. That though is an erroneous belief, comparable to the belief that you can stop aging. So if something seems to be worth investing in – be it a romantic relationship or friendship – than give it a try and don’t give up at the first few bumps – that are bound to show up – just give it your best shot. And when you have given it your all and it is not working for you, have the strength to let it go in love…

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