Over the course of the past few months, it has come to light that four of my closest friends are finding themselves in budding love relationships. Three of these gal pals have recently reconnected with their old High School sweethearts – and one is discovering love in her mid-eighties – with a much younger man.
All however, are encountering the exact same angst, insecurity- and self esteem issues.
As I listen to my girlfriends talk, it reminds me of the slumber parties of my teenage years; skin care issues, breast size issues, hip issues, thigh issues… all of the body image angst is there in full force- and although I understand it and share in it myself, I can’t help but feel a key component of finding and celebrating love during the Middle Years- and beyond- is being overlooked.
My friends have all lamented that they are ‘no longer youthful’-‘no longer look like they did in their 20s’ ‘cannot possibly be now all they might’ve been before ’, and are ‘ horrified at the prospect of being seen naked by him…’
It is a predicament indeed, this finding love in the middle years- but it should be something that is celebrated and embraced fully instead.
As menopausal women increase in number daily-worldwide- we are truly missing out on the chance to ride a very powerful wave. Women in their late 40s and 50s are, in essence, just becoming ripe.
Having worked through life issues, loss, childbirth and family rearing, grief, illness and numerous other struggles, we are so much better equipped to rise up and embrace our True Self. We’ve earned our wisdom, our freedom, and the right to be comfortable in our own skin. What better celebration of this achievement than to share it with a wise, mature and loving man?
So often in western cultures, the concept of Sexiness is interchangeable with Youth.
Nothing could be further from the truth – and no culture reveals this better than Italy. Italian women are sexy and SEXUAL during all the stages of their lives. To these women and the men who love them-sexual vitality is not something that ‘dries up’ or diminishes with the aging process. Far from it!
It’s well documented that our feelings of self-esteem impact –negatively or positively-our level of sexual intimacy and sexual satisfaction within loving relationships. It stands to reason then that we can be either our own best friend in this regard, or our own worst enemy.
Armed with this truth, is it not wiser then to work to make peace with ourselves and the reflection that daily stares back at us? The areas that can be helped, help if need be. The areas that can’t be helped, learn to embrace- but for heaven’s sake don’t let them interfere with the heady experience that awaits you in the arms of your Beloved!
Menopause brings with it many emotional, psychological and physical changes. It would be foolish to refuse to acknowledge them and learn to compensate for them. How much wiser it is then to embrace the body you find yourself with and then introduce it –lovingly, proudly and willingly- to your new fella.
In every one of the cases mentioned at the beginning of this article, the men involved have also expressed body image issues and insecurities themselves. ‘Not the man I used to be…’ ‘Don’t look like I did in High School any more do I??!’ ‘Have a bald spot now…’ Even sexual dysfunction issues have been confessed, so these body changes are not happening to just women at this stage of life!
Granted, Menopause brings issues such as vaginal dryness and structural changes, possible pain during intercourse, mood swings and lessened libido in many cases- but these issues are really no different from the body and mood changes that accompany men as they move through Andropause aka: Male Menopause.
During Andropause, men experience many of the same issues women do: depression, fatigue, weakness, loss of muscle mass, weight gain, flagging libido and sexual dysfunction.
As Christiane Northrup so eloquently states ‘Menopause is that fork in the road where one side says ‘Grow’ and the other says ‘Die’. The same can be said for men finding themselves in Male Menopause.
Dr. Northrup also states that ‘our libido is our life force and reflects the degree to which we are tapped in to the creative life force of the planet.’
In a published study conducted in 2000, it was found that 65% of women aged 51-64 and 74% of women aged 65 and over engaged in sexual relations at least once per week. This finding is nothing to be sneezed at and reveals that women- and men- are choosing to overcome their middle-aged insecurities and body issues in order to remain vitally alive and actively engaged.
Key to this achievement is a healthy respect for Self and others, a reverence for life and the human experience- and a profound awareness that it is a gift to love and be loved-throughout life.
Boil all this down and what it means is this:
‘Life has taught us that love does not consist in gazing at each other but in looking outward together in the same direction.’