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  • Writer's pictureJane Leder

"Nowhere To Run To, Baby, Nowhere to Hide"

I turn seventy-five in a month. The passage of time is startling. It seems that I just posted a blog "OMG, I'm Turning 70." Where did those five years go? I'd like to think that I used the time wisely and picked up some life skills along the way. You know, accepting my changing physical self. (Still ongoing.) Perfecting ways to destress--meditation, dance, nature. Mentoring younger women and serving up an example of how senior women can teach those youngins a thing or two.

But I can't lie: it has taken me until, say, the last couple of months to not only figure out how to make the relationship with my husband (substitute partner, roommate) a much smoother one but to actually put my lightbulb flashes into practice. Sure, I realize that this is not some new theory and that I'm not going to write the best-seller on the subject. I mean, I took an active listening workshop back when my two-or three-year-old son was out of control; I should have perfected all this relationship stuff by now. But, no, it has been a work in progress. How much more time do I need? The clock is ticking.

No doubt the Covid 19 pandemic has had a lot to do with all of this. I mean, if you are sequestered at home with virtually no place to go, it's time to either put up or shut up. If we can't get along with the other human in lockup, we're bound to spend our time frustrated, angry, ready to "kill."

As Martha and the Vandellas so aptly sang:

"Nowhere to run to, baby, nowhere to hide."

So, here's what I've had to relearn for the umpteenth time.

Step 1 in all of this is to acknowledge with whom you're dealing. A man. That person with one X and one Y chromosome. We should have known from the getgo that that spelled trouble ahead. But we grew up being duped into believing that we'd be swept away by that handsome man on the white horse who would gallop into our lives and, magically, take us under his wing and provide all the love and support that we'd ever need. Oh, dear!

Enter step 2: Get over the hope that you gave up mothering decades ago. Those XY creatures can be infantile to the max. I know--the last thing you want at this age is to play substitute mom. Believe me, I get that. But if truth be told, many men want/need to be coddled and, if we give them that, life around the house can be a lot more peaceful, a lot more enjoyable. (Okay, feminists, we have our work cut out for us.)

Step 3: Now that you've come to your senses, compliment, praise. Even if it is NOT what you feel like doing, make the extra effort. Bend over backward to make your male companion feel needed, wanted. He is the "best" guy on the planet--or, at least, on your block. Phrases like "You are so good at that," "You're the pro around here," "I can never do that as well as you can" are your friends.

Step 4: Swallow your pride every now and then. Man, that's a toughie. There are those times when we know we're right (actually, many times) and want to make a point, display our understanding, our facts. What to do? Connect with your inner smile. (That's one of those yoga terms.) Count to ten. Walk around the room. Do whatever you need to do to quell your desire to be the one with the answers and give that XY creature a "Yes, you're right." Throwing in a "honey" or "sweetie" or any other term of endearment can help the cause.

It's easy to spit out a few paragraphs and make like an expert or something. I'm far from it. Believe me. But I'm trying. Be kinder, more accepting, less demanding. Be kinder, more accepting, less demanding . . .

And here's the bottom line: we senior women know the ropes. We've been around the block more times than we can count or remember. (Hell, I forgot the word . . . What was it, now? Oh, yeah, recycle. I pulled up composting and garbage but recycle was nowhere to be found.) Intuitively, we know the formula for improving our connections and making our lives the best they can be. We're the two X gender, and research has shown that the double X marks a longer lifespan. We women outlive men on average by four years. That's four more years (Yes, it's an election year, but let's not get sidetracked) in which to learn from experience.

I don't know whether or not this is our one shot or if we have more opportunities to get things right. But I'm sure the Beatles had it down when they wrote, "The love we take is equal to the love we make."


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