So many times during my 30+ year career and 50+ year life, I have been reminded that things work out. It’s hard to remember when we’re heartbroken and hopeless, but they really always do.
Bob and Suzie were both in a lot of pain and came to see me with seemingly unresolvable differences. We identified the issues, ineffective behaviors, emotional buttons, communication stalls… They nonetheless decided to divorce, though with a much better understanding of their difficulties and with less acrimony than they might otherwise have. A few years later I ran into him at the grocery store. Turns out they bought houses across the street from each other, they’re both in new thriving relationships, the kids go back and forth, everyone is happy. Things work out.
Jasper was a virgin in his thirties who had never dated but wanted a family. He learned how to write an ad, develop his dating skills, be discerning, get clear about what kind of mate he wanted. Then he fell in love with a tall beautiful brunette , and had to tell her his circumstances, which he did courageously. She accepted him lovingly. They’re now married with two beautiful boys. Things work out.
Annalise and Mitchell had been married 17 years, with a 15 year old daughter. Mitchell had lost his job and gone into a deep and prolonged depression, and disappeared as a husband. Annalise was the breadwinner and ran the household and the family, though she resented it. After some individual therapy, appropriate medication, and couples therapy, he came back to life. His wife wanted to rekindle their sexual relationship. Bridges had to be mended, fears (on both sides) had to be overcome, and they rose to the occasion, reconnecting on a whole new and deeper level, due to the adversity they had weathered together. Things work out.
Obviously these scenarios are simplified and identifying information disguised, but they happened to real clients of mine. I could write hundreds of these, because really, things do work out.
You have to trust.
It is never too late to find, and keep, love.
This article is so delightful. I had a hard time choosing my favorite excerpts:
Ms. Morrow-Nulton and Mr. Shults were both born in May 1926. “I hope I make it to 100 so we can have five years together,” she said on May 22, just after her wedding to Mr. Shults in Ulster, N.Y. “He’s a delight to be with.”
Both had been widowed twice after 60-plus years of marriage. And both lived alone in their own houses. The couple’s extended families can be a challenge for them to keep track of: “We have ancestors coming out of our ears.”
Mr. Shults may not have been brilliant at showing it, but he found Ms. Morrow-Nulton enchanting. “She was cute, I’ll tell you that,” he said. “And she was smart and she had a delightful sense of humor. And she smiled at me.”
Both are also active in their churches, she at Tillson Community Church and he at Cross Point Fellowship Baptist church in Hurley. And both were in the habit of asking their Amazon Alexas to play 1940s music at home. “We like Perry Como and the 101 Strings Orchestra.” “He started bugging me for lunch every day,” she said. “I knew he loved me. He would call and say, ‘What are we going to have for lunch? Where are we going to go today?’” She did the driving. “My kids took my license away from me because I had three strokes and a broken hip,” Mr. Shults said. A couple with a daily routine that lingered late into afternoons. When the weather was nice, they went to Robert Frost Park in Ulster to watch boats drift along the Hudson River. The loneliness and isolation both said they felt before they met lifted. “You bet your life they were happy for me to find somebody at this age,” Mr. Shults said. For each, life without the companionship of marriage rang hollow.
Ms. Morrow-Nulton thinks she may have written down the date of the engagement in her diary. But neither remembers it exactly. “It’s like our first real kiss,” Mr. Shults said. “It’s not important to me when it happened, it’s the fact that it happened at all.” His strategy for getting Ms. Morrow-Nulton to agree to marry him was the same one he relied on to nudge her into the lunch routine. “I pestered her for at least a year. She kept saying, ‘No, no, no.’” Ms. Morrow-Nulton’s reluctance to accept his proposals, which eventually started coming daily just like the lunch inquiries, wasn’t out of a lack of affection for Mr. Shults. Or the notion that someone better might come along. “It’s true there’s not a lot of men my age,” she said. “And even though we’re both 95, I’m 12 days older. One of my friends said, ‘Oh, Joy, you’re a cougar.’” “I finally decided, ‘You better say yes.’ We have a good time together. He’s not like anybody else I’ve met in my whole life.”
“Nobody starts life at 95,” Ms. Morrow-Nulton said. “But we did.” “I’m not lonely anymore,” Mr. Shults said. Better still, “I don’t think we’ll get sick of each other.”
COVID has impacted sexual desire in many ways:
-too much proximity has dampened mystery and increased complacency
–erectile potency and libido may not be the same after COVID
-more eating and less exercising has you not feeling not so sexy
–stress and anxiety
-realizing things about your mate you don’t like so much…
Wanna feel the way the people in this picture do? You can.
This piece in the NY Times really hit the nail on the head for me:
“It wasn’t burnout — we still had energy. It wasn’t depression — we didn’t feel hopeless. We just felt somewhat joyless and aimless. It turns out there’s a name for that: languishing.
Languishing is a sense of stagnation and emptiness. It feels as if you’re muddling through your days, looking at your life through a foggy windshield. And it might be the dominant emotion of 2021.
Part of the danger is that when you’re languishing, you might not notice the dulling of delight or the dwindling of drive. You don’t catch yourself slipping slowly into solitude; you’re indifferent to your indifference. When you can’t see your own suffering, you don’t seek help or even do much to help yourself.”
In psychology, we think about mental health on a spectrum from depression to flourishing. Trying to have a vibrant relationship and sex life within that is challenging.
While we are all supposed to isolate from each other, some of you will be in close proximity to each other, more so than usual. Dynamics in your relationship that are challenging may be more so. The added stress of fear and restriction may find you wishing you could have a therapy session. You can!
After all, what better time to work on your relationship than during this period of retreat?
And if you need ideas for how to occupy your time, there’s this: