Most of them were married, and most of the rest were divorced; the only thing that they all had in common was that they had had a lowered libido since going through the menopause. Once again, like the SQs, they put very little energy into seeking any change in their situation. Sheehy makes the point that these categories are not fixed, in the sense that we can move between different categories at different points in our lives, a fact which might be encouraging for women who feel stuck in a situation that seems suffocating and prevents them from growing.
One of the things that comes across again and again in her book is that women over 50 who make the leap out of a dead or dying relationship — whether propelled by desperation or by desire — say that they are having the best sex of their lives.
Is good health essential, or financial independence? Do you need to be an optimistic personality to attract a mate who wants to enjoy sex with you? Or is it about your luck? So the questions that you might need to ask yourself include: What do I see as the benefits of middle age?
What do I see as the threats and opportunities of growing old? Do I have a passionate interest in something that sustains me? How is my present life partner supporting me or frustrating the achievement of my objectives? Am I still sexually desirable? Am I still sexually active? And how am I going to live the years that remain for me?
Do I want to spend the rest of my life in a marriage or enjoying casual relationships? And, perhaps above all, what will be spiritually fulfilling to me?
In some sense passion is the thing that drives every aspect of human life. Finding something you love to do is essential for your spiritual fulfilment. What was that idea, that dream, the thing that motivated you, that you always wanted to achieve or to do? And there is a fundamental link between finding the passionate pursuit that will enliven the second half of your life, and reopening the doorway to sexual pleasure, real intimacy, and companionship.
The most profound aspect of this philosophy is the belief that the object is to reach mature love and a sense of meaning and purpose that lasts until the end of your life. Gail Sheehy also claims that the third thread of the passionate life is spiritual exploration: What to make of this? For those who have come here looking for advice on how to be sexier after 50, talk about spiritual pastimes and a meaningful purpose in life may be somewhat overwhelming. I think life can be lived perfectly well in the absence of deep spiritual fulfillment as long as there are plenty of small but meaningful episodes in everyday life that sustain you spiritually.
Indeed, the principle behind all of this website is that great sex within the context of a good life is easily achievable for everyone, at all ages.
This acts as a beacon that attracts people, including possible life companions. A life lived passionately is likely to be a life in which the enjoyment of sex features predominantly.
Gail Sheehy talks of the five phases of a passionate existence in midlife. For a long-married couple who are still together and wish to stay that way, the romance of the new can be sparked in unexpected ways, such as the first holiday they have together after the departure of the last child from the family home. In the context of a personal relationship, or a new dream, or a new spiritual focus, the excitement and romance of the new can propel woman towards a new and passionate life.
In terms of romantic and sexual relationships, the romantic renaissance is often a short lived affair, but it can serve to bring you back in touch with the sexual side of your being. Given the opportunity to seize a chance to reconnect with sexual energy, many people in midlife have taken what another man or woman has to offer, even when they know that the person is not a suitable long-term mate or partner. Many women and men who begin dating again in midlife will find a partner who gives them the gift of great sex and new sexual skills, helping them to move on in their search for a new existence.
Learning to be alone with your new self. The pain of loss and abandonment can be considerable, as many women who have been divorced and left to fend for themselves by husbands who have searched out younger partners can testify.
By using a series of exercises which help you to shed any inappropriate and outmoded rules and regulations that have governed your life up till now, you can change the beliefs which underpin your philosophy of life. The boldness to dream. Sheehy quotes Goethe, who wrote: Soul Seeking This describes the dramatic change in needs which can occur for somebody in their 50s.
Certainly, the shadow of death lies ahead of us — death being the one certainty for all of us — and this means people may change their priorities, they may look towards the light of faith, or they may become more spiritual in some very personal way.
One of the best antidote is to the anxiety of later middle age to have a deep and meaningful connection with another person, sometimes from a marriage that began years ago and has grown steadily as times have gone by, and sometimes from a new start in midlife. This can occur when a person knows deep in their souls that what they have is not enough and they need to seek more. Of course, new connections can be found in all kinds of places: You might relight the fires of passion for an old flame or friend, or begin a new relationship.
Every story is individual and there are potentially as many variations on the theme as there are individuals in the world! Graduating to mature love Which Sheehy describes as the gold at the end of life. For those who are able to incorporate their passion and their dream with the practical matters of living, there should be greater confidence, fulfilment, and self-acceptance than at any other point in life.
A broader view of life in the short time you have left to live can be a catalyst for the growth of wider love, a form of love that is expressed through giving to community and loving others outside relationship, friends or family; a love shown through your actions — which might include giving creatively, or philosophically, or through some kind of activism for a cause that you espouse.
This is still underpinned by passion, a passion which may spread into love for and with another human being.