How I Got Married For The First Time After 50
By realizing my family's history was thwarting me.
Plenty of factors contributed to my status as a never-married woman in my late 40s, but perhaps the most glaring was perfectionism. It was a trait I had learned from my parents, whose search for their dream home lasted 25 years, a record I would hold up against any other impossible-to-please customers. Every weekend and holiday, they’d drag me through open houses. A rotating cast of Realtors would lead us through property after property. It was a Goldilocks adventure of grand proportions, in search of a house that wasn’t too big or too small. I wasn't sure they would ever find one that was just right.
I begged my parents to take me anywhere but another stupid open house, but they weren't listening. Instead, they were keenly attuned to yet another poor Realtor's vain attempts to have them “imagine this living room with a fresh coat of eggshell paint and a beige, plush carpet.” Sometimes I stood in the adjacent room, silently imitating the agent, gesturing to show my customers just how perfect their new home would be once it was filled with my buyer’s personal touches.
Other times, I’d wander into the kids’ rooms wondering who lived in them. There was one bedroom in a rambler house (I had absorbed all the pertinent real estate lingo) that surely belonged to a cool girl. Her walls were already painted blue, my favorite color that year, and the central feature was a poster of David Cassidy, my biggest crush. But, my parents didn’t like the fact that it had no garage and the price point was a tad too high. So, of course, the room never became mine.
Time marched on, and the turquoise, mid-century stoves gave way to 1970s avocado colored refrigerators. My daydreams turned from David Cassidy to real boys. But by now, my parents’ perfectionism and penchant for unrealistic expectations had seeped into my being. I was writing up wish lists of my own, rejecting boy after boy the way Mom and Dad rejected homes. I’d refuse to give the go-ahead to a man with fewer attractive features than I sought.
One day, my parents finally bought a house at auction. It was one of the ugliest homes I’d ever seen – with a black, Mansard roof, reminiscent of a barn. The clunky and unwelcoming property was among six homes sold by a developer who had overshot his goals. I was horrified. I couldn't imagine bringing a prospective boyfriend to this house for one of my fantasy make-out sessions (since I had yet to have an actual boyfriend). But my parents had finally worn themselves down, and could revel in what they considered the house's perfection: they got it at 35% below market rate, which was their definition of beauty.
My teenage years were spent under that roof, until I escaped the house for college. From there it was my single 20s, which slipped into my unmarried 30s. When I reached my 40s, it hit me: my parents’ impossible expectations had turned me into as much of a looky-loo with men as they had been with houses. Like my folks, I had harbored the illusion that if I held out long enough, every item on my wish list would come true.
From that moment on, I made it my mission to locate my mate, and quickly. To find, not the man with every perfect quality on my list, but the man with at least one perfect quality from the top of my list. I picked kindness. Once that decision was made, time was of the essence. I just had to let go of my parents' blueprint for unearthing a house, then I could be married soon after turning 50.
With my friends’ help, I created a standout, online profile, comparable to the best real estate ad. I made sure my personal "foundation" was in the best possible shape. To do this, I tapped into an extensive network of trusted "interior designers": friends, yoga teachers and spiritual advisors, who helped me unclutter emotional barriers that had kept me from finding my mate, including perfectionism.
It worked, and I now share life with my husband Tom in a beautiful home we recently purchased. We bought it, by the way, in less than six months.