Is This For Real?

 

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Feigning an air of confidence to conceal the raging disquiet inside, I scanned the restaurant and headed for a table near the back, where I could observe him searching for the forty-something woman with whom he had shared a few words on the telephone. He had neither met me nor seen a photograph.

The year was 1986, long before the advent of online dating. I had purpose-ly arrived early to give myself time to adopt that elusive veneer of tranquility.

The dating game was indeed uncharted territory. Having been only 18 years old when I married my first husband, I was ill prepared for the complexi-ties of marriage. And here I was, at age 40, 21 years of marriage and five chil-dren later, newly separated, on a date with a man who answered an ad I had placed in the personal column of the local newspaper.

“What was I thinking?” I muttered to myself. “This man could be an axe murderer!” I took a few deep breaths.

Out of the corner of my eye I noticed a tall, attractive, bearded man heading in my direction. Feeling both fearful and a little excited, I stood to shake his hand and exchange “pleased-to-meet-you” pleasantries. We quickly busied ourselves with menus and meal choices, a diversion that eased us into the dis-covery of similarities and the sharing of histories.

“So far, so good,” I thought to myself as I asked the obvious question: “So, what led to your separation?”

“We just grew apart,” he began, elaborating on the gradual process that left them with little to say to one another.

I went in for the kill. “What do you think your wife would say if I asked her the same question?” (Hey, I’m a social worker – asking probing questions was how I made my living)

Silence. He stared out the window for what seemed like an eternity.

“Uh-oh. I blew it,” I admonished myself, biting my tongue in regret just as he began to answer. I later learned that it was this question that piqued his inter-est in me, as he felt the conversation enter a deeper, more authentic level.

That was 24 years ago. My memories of that night remain vivid. The con-versation flowed until the headwaiter’s yawn sent us on a search for another venue. Off we went to the local mall, where we walked and talked and walked and talked.

Placing the ad in the paper was a fortuitous act of impulse and curiosity. I didn’t want to navigate the depressing singles bar scene. And I had no desire to enter into a serious relationship so soon after my separation – or so I had thought. For a while after our first date, common sense prevailed and I took the time to meet some of the others who had responded to my ad. However, several disappointing dates later, I allowed myself to follow my heart instead of my head – a good decision, I now know.

The glow so prevalent in the early months of any relationship – ours includ-ed – blinded us from seeing ourselves as we were at the time. We were two lost souls, each fresh out of long term marriages, each struggling to heal from the pain of failure, each trying to parent our confused children – and each unpre-pared for another relationship.

Yet somehow it worked and we pulled through. We lived separately for several years, which we felt was best since we had eight kids between us. To-day we share good relationships with our children and stepchildren, and they have
rewarded us with wonderful grandchildren who are simply “ours” – not “yours” or “mine.” In this man I found someone who accepts me with all my imperfec-tions and loves me because of – not in spite of – who I am, empowering me to be myself at all times. He treats me with kindness, thoughtfulness and respect, and has learned what I need from him when I’m feeling vulnerable. I trust him with my feelings. He is intelligent, unafraid of conflict, and welcoming of emo-tional connectedness. He uses his brilliant sense of humour strategically, creat-ing an atmosphere of fun and laughter when I least expect it. All this, from a newspaper ad!

We were married in a most romantic ceremony on a stunning beach in Barbados, one week after my 50th birthday and on the tenth anniversary of the day on which we met..

As we now enter our 25th year, we still find it astounding that in the vast, vast world of the newly single, we somehow found each other through – of all things – a personal ad. It hasn’t always been a walk in the park. We have, over the years, faced more than our fair share of life’s challenges. But our commit-ment to addressing our differences with mutual respect has created a safe ha-ven in which we can heal from life’s vicissitudes. Now older and wiser, we’re no longer the two lost souls we once were.

So what did I say in my ad?

“Jewish, newly separated woman, age 40 (with kids), attractive professional with a positive outlook on life and a happy disposition, seeks to meet (not marry) man in similar situation who has and values these qualities: integrity, kindness and sensitivity, self-awareness, self-insight; and a willingness to share this: intel-ligence, a sense of humour, relative emotional stability and last – but not least – physical attractiveness.”

I recently asked him what it was about the ad that led him to respond. His answer?

“Seeks to meet (not marry)!!!”

 

                                                                                           

1987

1987

                                        

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2016

 

Posted on June 24, 2018 by Adele Gould
In: Marriage, Uncategorized
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