Midlife love rocks! (Ask me how I know.)

th Midlife love rocks! (Ask me how I know.)I find myself in the middle of a Lifetime movie: Middle-aged woman leaves long-term abusive marriage, goes broke, wins a scholarship, stumbles into an unexpected career – and finds a man who’s perfect for her.

A man who’s smart, kind, funny, well-read, musically talented, astoundingly physical and – bonus! – extremely handy around the house.

A man who only gets her jokes but embroiders on them, and who wrote a smutty double dactyl in honor of her birthday.

A man who wants her for who she is, not for the person he thinks he can turn her into.

The experience has been startling, and humbling, and oh so gratifying. I never knew emotions came in this size.

The man in question is an old friend who’s become much, much more. I will not identify him in print, or reveal too many details of our courtship, in order to preserve a bit of mystery and at least some of his privacy.

Obviously anyone who lives here could discern his identity pretty quickly. Anchorage is the biggest small town I’ve ever lived in, and sooner or later we’ll be spotted at the symphony or on a cross-country ski trail.

‘A quiet concept’

But on my website he’ll be identified only as “DF,” for “dearest friend” – one of his terms for me. That’s how he began some the letters he sent before I completed my move to Anchorage.

“I keep returning to that name because I cannot think of a more correct endearment. Friend. Second self. Honest reflection. Helper unsought, undemanded, unpresumed and unpresuming.”

I like his other endearments, too: “treasure,” “beloved,”  “principessa” (princess) and my personal favorite, “goddess.” (“You are my goddess on this earth, the spring solstice in the early autumn of my life, the person I would most like to have present at any moment of the day.”)

My friend is the most masculine metrosexual I’ve ever met, a guy who has favorite operas and favorite shovels. He cooks, cleans, bakes bread from scratch, cans salmon and plays a mean classical piano despite the permanent handyman’s calluses on his fingers.

He’s not afraid to open up about how he feels. Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves; he wears his on his face. Half a dozen times in an evening I will look up and see him smiling at me. “I adore you,” he’ll say. Or, “You’re so pretty.”

I’ve never considered myself attractive. But with him as my mirror, I do feel pretty. There’s not much room for doubt, since he tells me often and eloquently how beautiful he finds me.

From another letter: Beauty is a quiet concept – it’s form, not glamor. It’s what gets reflected of the truth, not masqueradery. It’s Brahms, not the Beach Boys.”

Life is unpredictable

My reasons for writing this are both practical and personal. It’s necessary to introduce a guy who will likely show up in future posts. (Hint: He’s extremely frugal.)

When I’ve written about topics such as leaving a marriage, going broke, midlife invisibility, paying off debt and seeking a work-life balance, readers have left comments and sent e-mails along the lines of, “I needed to hear this” or “I’m facing similar issues — thanks for writing.” That’s why I’m sharing this latest chapter: to emphasize once more that life is just so damned unpredictable — and sometimes it’s unpredictable in a good way.

Why did I wait? Because I wanted to see how it shook down. I’d have hated to write about a grand romance only to find that it really wasn’t.

Initially I wondered if one passionate, late-in-life crush could be my way of making up for the pain I’d swallowed my whole life. Yep, that’s cynical. So was my initial resistance to call this by its right name: Having spent years trying to ward off heartbreak, I was afraid to open myself up to the possibility of love. To me that meant opening myself up to the possibility of loss.

Fortunately my heart overruled my head.

So yes: Midlife love rocks, and not just because it pushes loneliness out of the picture. It’s because we’ve lived long enough to understand how important this kind of connection is – at any age – and how blessed we are to have found it. And since time is a precious and increasingly finite commodity, we’re less inclined to play games and more inclined to ask for what we want.

I waited so long for someone worth holding. Now I’ve found him, right where he’d been for a couple of decades: a good friend, a good listener, a good man. And a good roommate: I am in the process of moving in.

My only regret is that it didn’t happen sooner. But we were different people then. It wouldn’t have worked because I would have been too afraid to allow myself a chance at a miracle.

He says I saved his life. I say we saved each other’s lives.


136 Comments

  1. Holly Samlan

    Congrats!!

  2. Yay, Donna! You deserve a gem like that. And I love, love, LOVE what he said about beauty: “it’s form, not glamor. It’s what gets reflected of the truth, not masqueradery. ” What woman doesn’t want to hear that? What woman doesn’t NEED to hear that!

    • Donna Freedman

      Oh, yes, we do…it’s an antidote to the constant barrage of “Use this product or die a lonely, loveless spinster!”
      Thanks for stopping by.

  3. How wonderful! I have to admit the move to Alaska really seemed to come out of the blue as a follower of your blog…

  4. lostAnnfound

    Good for you!! I’m very happy that you found a special someone to share your life with!

  5. I needed to hear that. I’m only 33 but single…and always have been really. I’d like to think if I have to “wait” until mid life to find him… He’ll be worth waiting for.. :-)

    • Donna Freedman

      And he’ll be thinking, “Thank goodness I waited — otherwise I would never have found Heather.”

  6. What a lovely story…I like to think that when we ‘find’ a love like that, we find our true self..
    Sounds like you did!! Happy Valentine’s Day to the two ‘DF’s.

  7. I’m soooo happy for you !!!!!!!

  8. Well, I never saw this coming but I couldn’t be more pleased. Donna you most definitely deserve this in your life. You have shared your journey and helped so many of us along the way it is time you have been rewarded for your good works. Rock on my dear and may this be just the beginning of a fabulous new chapter in your life.

  9. What a great story…on Valentines Day no less. Very happy for you and know that he is a lucky man….Nothing but the best for the future…

    • Donna Freedman

      Thanks, Jack….There’s a chance we’ll be visiting the D.C. area this fall. Time for a meet-up?

      • Let me know when and we’ll see what happens. Once again thanks for sharing your good news….

  10. congratulations, what a wonderful love story

  11. Great Valentine’s day post!!!! You are such a wonderful soul and you deserve nothing but the best. You are both blessed!

  12. How Wonderful! Congratulations to you both.

  13. Great post! I’m so happy for you. May you both have lots of laugh and many happy years together!

  14. AIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    YAY! Could not happen to a more wonderful person! Woooooooooooooooo!

  15. Long time reader and lurker, and I had to come out of hiding to say congratulations Donna! We all deserve this kind of love. Thank you for sharing with us.

  16. Congrats to both of you, Donna! Hmmmmm… maybe I need to move to Alaska? ;o)

    • Donna Freedman

      @Catseye: There’s always the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction next December.

  17. I am so happy for you and more hopeful for me! This brought tears to my eyes. Your move to Alaska made absolutely no sense until now. Okay, maybe it is my turn to find someone or have someone find me. Happy happy happy for you.

  18. Wow–just wow. Much happiness to you both!

  19. glad you found someone who makes you happy :)

  20. Donna, you made my day! Like others here I cannot stop smiling. Happy Valentine to both of you!

  21. Beautiful. Just beautiful.

    Such great writing and so much wisdom in here, but somehow this line struck me the most: “Some people wear their hearts on their sleeves; he wears his on his face.”

    Have a glorious day, Goddess.

  22. Oh, Happy Valentine’s Day to you both!

    I loved this: “My friend is the most masculine metrosexual I’ve ever met, a guy who has favorite operas and favorite shovels. He cooks, cleans, bakes bread from scratch, cans salmon and plays a mean classical piano despite the permanent handyman’s calluses on his fingers.”

    Replace opera with poetry, canning salmon with changing diapers, and classical piano with the violin… and then you’ve described my husband. When one finds such a man, one is blessed, indeed. So glad you two (re)found each other!

  23. Carol in Philly

    Wow. Just wow. And heartiest congratulations and best wishes
    to you both.

  24. Congratulations – so great to hear that you found someone who gets you! And cooks, cleans, etc.

  25. Welp, I was reading this in between calls at work and made a girly squeal. I’m so happy for you. :)

    • Donna Freedman

      I’ve caused a girly squeal — my work here is finished. (For the day, anyhow.)

  26. Long time reader but never commented. Congrats! What a heart-warming story.

  27. So, so happy for you both. It seems you’ve both found someone truly special to share your lives with.

  28. Oh my god this is so the best post ever. It’s Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute.

  29. What a wonderful story! Wow!

  30. I’m so happy for you. I found the man of my dreams 3 years ago at age 51. Hope your love story works out as well as mine has.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sue: So glad you two met. It’s encouraging, because I’m also in my 50s.

  31. I, a total stranger, am totally happy for you. Sometimes it seems all the good men are taken, but you have found yours. I wish you both all the happiness in the world.

  32. I’m so excited for you, Donna! You’ve spent a lot of years putting yourself last and I’m so glad to know that karma has circled back around for you. I definitely expect/hope to hear more about DF – I’ll be living vicariously through your posts! :)

  33. How wonderful! I am so happy for you!

  34. I’ve been waiting for a new post from you – how lovely that this was the post. “Favorite operas and favorite shovels” I love it! My DF is a man of manly contrasts also, has a favorite table saw but didn’t know who was playing in the Super Bowl. I’m so happy for you. Best of luck.

  35. Suzanne in VA

    Alaska here I come!!! Just kidding- I didnt think my day could get any better but this wonderful story really gives me hope- all the best Donna!

  36. So so pleased for you. I had tears in my eyes as I read your post. You deserve such happiness. As a survivor of not one but two abusive relationships and now in my fifties, your brilliant post gives me hope!! I hope we will be hearing more. Did you move to Anchorage to be with him?

    • Donna Freedman

      @Ash: I’m sorry you had to go through that twice. Thanks for your good wishes. And he was definitely the major reason for me to move to Anchorage (although there were others).

  37. I am so happy for you Donna!! I don’t consider myself romantic but I got pulled in by your lovely post. A deep and abiding friendship-what a great foundation for romance. Thanks for sharing on this Valentines Day.

  38. Happy dance!!

  39. I have only one word for this. EXCELLENT!!!!!!!!

  40. Donna, I am so happy for you!!! You have been such a great friend to me when I needed one who understood my life challenges so well. You deserve the best of everything!!! Best Wishes to both of you!

  41. You go girl!!!
    And you have driven me to the dictionary; if you have used the word “metrosexual”, I know I have to finally look it up.

  42. Donna,
    Wow!
    I am so happy for you. Your story gives me hope that it may happen for me….
    Thanks for sharing.

  43. Sounds like you are both blessed!

  44. Ro in San Diego

    Congratulations to you both, Donna. I am so happy for you!

    I glad you found that someone who makes you feel as beautiful as the rest of us, your loyal fans, have already come to realize.

    Best wishes to you both!!!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Ro in San Diego: You can’t see it, but I am blushing right now. Thanks for your support.

  45. :) thank you for sharing your life with us. So happy for you and your DF :)

  46. Congrats!! I am a long time reader, first time commenter. I am so happy for you. Enjoy this and thank you for sharing. I wonder how many readers are thinking, “Does he have a brother/friend?”!!

  47. Donna – I am filled with joy for you! Don’t even know what to say I am so happy. Ironically, I have recently found my own “midlife love that rocks” with … a native Jersey boy who has long transplanted to the Midwest.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Maryl: I’m a fellow Jerseyan, and I approve this message. ;-)

      • I recommended Jersey boy read your column – and he approves of both your and your message. I think you have a new reader, Donna.

  48. I woke up this morning and read you lovely email and thought, “I am SO glad that life sometimes deposits a wonderful blessing after dark, stormy days!” When one is going through a hard time, there are days when you feel like the sadness and darkness, and tears and difficulty will never end. I know that YOU know what I am talking about and, sadly, I know it, too. Your story not only makes me so happy for you, but gives me hope that there are brighter days ahead after my own hard time as well. I so wish you could post a picture, because I’d love to see what you two silly lovebirds look like together, but I guess for now we’ll just have to be content with knowing him as “DF”. He sounds wonderful! Congratulations!! :-)

    • Donna Freedman

      @Susan: I so agree! When you’re in the middle of tough times it seems that they’re all you’ve ever known/will know — and tough times don’t usually just stop, but rather gradually cease to be so tough and eventually improve.
      I couldn’t have seen/appreciated it at the time, but…The tough times taught me things I needed to know, things I did use as I went about repairing the damages. They are part of who I am now.
      I hope your own hard times have abated. Thanks for leaving a comment.

  49. What a great story-I’m happy for you!

  50. I am happy for you. That’s just wonderful. Thanks for sharing.

  51. Sandra Gonzales

    Sounds like you have a real Renaissance man! My fifty-something yr old mom is divorced and I have told her that it’s never too late.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sandra: Oh, it isn’t…Suggest that she use her “me” time to figure out who she is and what kind of life she wants to lead. Then go ahead and lead it, and love may find her. If not? She’s still got a great life.

  52. This is so great. How nice for both of you–sounds like you’re each getting a treasure.

  53. melissa f

    Gosh Donna, I cannot get enough of reading your posts. They have become something I look forward to. This one really made me smile. I am so happy for you and even though I don’t know you personally, I am very sure you deserve such incredible happiness. It is so nice of you to sort of introduce us to him. Tell him we all said hello! At first, I thought you might have been dating my husband, who happens to be all those things to me and makes me feel the exact same way (except for the handy fact-he likes to think he is but its never done correctly or finished at all!) Enjoy this wonderful man and the blessings you both have been given. Take care, Melissa F

  54. Punkinpye

    At a time when so many women are experiencing dissapointment in love via divorce or unhappy marriages, you are living the dream. Congratulations. He is a lucky man.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Punkinpye: Thanks for your kind words. My own marriage was unhappy but even so, the divorce was difficult. But I feel that I’ve been given a chance to build a life for myself, a process that would have continued whether or not I found a relationship. (The fact that I did? Icing on the cake.)

  55. I married “this guy” that you write about 22+ years ago, Donna, and we are still in love, best friends, and genuinely enjoy each other’s company. I am so happy for you!

  56. Seattle Nancy

    You left Seattle for Alaska??? finally makes sense. Congrats to both of you. What a lovely new chapter for you.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Seattle Nancy: Well, I lived in Anchorage for 17 years and still have friends and family here. For the past few years I’d been spending up to four months a year here, house-sitting or doing Christmas with my niece and her kids. It was always in the back of my mind that I might return — but a chance at love certainly added fuel to the fire.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  57. Katherine

    So very happy for you both! You both are so lucky to have found each other! Congratulations!

  58. Congratulations! That’s a great Velntine story. Hope you two are very happy together.

  59. ImJuniperNow

    Does he have a brother/father/uncle/cousin for me?

  60. This is fantastic for you, and I really needed to read something like this today. I’m going through a split from my husband right now, and sometimes it’s hard to remember that there’s a light at the end of the tunnel. Thanks for reminding me that I deserve better, and that there are men out there like this.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Erin: I’m sorry you’re going through tough times. Divorce is tough (as I discovered, it’s tough even when you’re the one who initiates it). Allow yourself plenty of room for anger and disappointment, but keep returning to the “This, too, shall pass” attitude.
      It will.

  61. Yay Donna!!! It sounds magical and gorgeous…pure love. Awesome!!! You and he deserve that kind of joy. Relish in it!!!

  62. Where is the “LIKE” button? Like, very, very, much! Good for you.

  63. What a great post-valentine post! I waited a long time too, and it is so worth it!

  64. Congrats Donna,I’m so happy for you,you’re a lucky woman. Rock on!!

  65. Hooray! I’ve always loved stories with a happy ending! :D

  66. Thank you for the smile!

  67. Taking the Journey

    I also went through a mid-life divorce and had to face the arduous task of moving on, building a new life and growing in ways I never expected. Oh, and did I mention that last week I celebrated my 9th wedding anniversary with my later-in-life love. I definietly did NOT see that coming in the middle of some seriously nasty emotional upheaval 13 years ago. Donna, I believe we relish the good times more because of those awful experiences; in fact, they make us ready for them. Congrats to both of you for the happiness and love you’ve found.

  68. Donna, your post brought tears to my eyes! I’ve been following you for a few years and this is my first response. You absolutely and completely deserve this happiness. It is so wonderful that you two have found each other at this stage in your lives, at a time when you were most ready for each other. Enjoy all the beautiful moments you will share together. (I am lucky enough to be married to my best friend and most wonderful companion, so I understand how you feel to have such a connection.) My heart was completely warmed when I read about you two. Congrats!!

  69. Donna, I am so happy for you! You give me hope!!! A move to Alaska may be in the works for me ;) At least I would benefit from the higher ratio of men:women. Love, love, love the term endearment “Goddess.” Wishing you and DF all the best!

    Pru

    • Donna Freedman

      @Baroness Prudent Spending: Perhaps you’ve never heard the old expression about that male/female ratio? “The odds are good — but the goods are odd.” ;-)
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  70. Wow, just wow.

  71. Reta Davis

    Oh My Oh! I had to wait a bit to respond! I was speechless for once. What an amazing, pleasant development in your life, Donna. You have accomplished so much over your life, especially during the time you have been sharing your journey with us readers. Congratulations and best wishes on this “added value,” this waiting-in-the-wings wonder–Wowee Wow! (Sorry for all that alliteration, it just spilled out) I don’t have to WISH you happiness because I think it has ARRIVED!

  72. Holy moly. I just came by to check on you and well, look at you!!

    DC in the Fall? Would LOVE to meet up with you too! :) !

    Congrats Donna! I’m very happy for you!!

    • Donna Freedman

      @Sharon: If the trip happens, perhaps I could pick an easy-to-get-to location and have an MSN Money/Surviving and Thriving meet-up.

  73. See, good things do sometimes happen to good people.

  74. Congratulations message # 102:

    Congratulations.

    Couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

    PS, I could add my own story here. Single until age 50. Plenty of angst for those 50 years. Then met a women in the same situation. Then we married. Still married after 14 years.

  75. I don’t post often and I am really late with this note but I wanted to congratulate you and your “dear friend”. I am so glad for both you and wish you both the very best. You are two very lucky people.

  76. Congratulations! That’s awesome, so glad to hear how well things are working out!

  77. I can’t say how happy I am for you. God bless you both.

  78. awww…that’s so fine!

    It’s true, too: midlife love does rock the rafters.

    • Donna Freedman

      @Funny About Money: I hope you’re speaking from personal experience. :-)

  79. OMG! I am SOOO happy for u and for him! And this post is beautiful — Yay for you! I was just driving today thinking of the refrain from a favorite poem by Bob Flanagan — “Love is still possible Love is still possible Love is still possible in this junky world.” It is!

    And dirty double dactyls only magnify it!

    • Donna Freedman

      And then there’s this one:
      “Live while it is yet possible to live….love while it is yet possible to love…and God will be your judge.”

  80. I just got married Saturday, Feb 16th. I am 64 and the groom is 68. It definitely does work. God bless you both for many happy years together, Donna!

  81. Hi Donna, Read you for years on MSN money until they changed it all up, so I hadn’t had news of you for awhile until I just found you tonight. New relationship–how exciting! So very, very happy for you. Best of luck! : )

    • Donna Freedman

      Thanks, Barb…I’m in a third incarnation over at MSN Money, the daily Frugal Nation blog:
      http://money.msn.com/frugal-living
      Just celebrated my first anniversary of writing it. Hope you’ll stop by.
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  82. A-ha!! I am no longer wondering why you decided to move back to Anchorage.

    This is so nice! Congratulations to both you and DF, Donna. And good for you, for being brave enough to risk loss and accept love. :)

  83. Pit bull girl

    Donna:
    Congratulations!! This is my first time in your blog and I just love it!!
    I’m 46 getting divorced planning to adopt children ( I have enough four legged adoptees!! ) And reading your advice and trying to imagine what you are going through right now, gave me so much hope, hope for having my own life, on my own terms, not being what someone else tried to turn me in ( and succeded at some degree) I will buy a home, pay cash and I’m working on getting my Real Estate license. I hope you can give advice in the future for single women raising children !! By the way, did I mention I’m waiting for a date to for my Naturalization?
    Life couldn’t be better!!! I love this country so much, it makes my eyes teary, at a wonderful opportunity of being here. It’s a lifetime opportunity!!
    Sincerely,
    C K

  84. I’m so happy for you, Donna. I’m a longtime reader who rarely comments, but I wanted to send my best wishes. I look forward to reading about your adventures together.

  85. Yippeee!!! Love rocks!!!!

  86. Donna, I am so happy for you! Wishing you many years of happiness!

  87. Bunny Lloyd

    WOW!!! I just found your Blog. I am looking for interesting Blogs for ideas. I love yours!!

    This is so close to my own story! I too found a loving and wonderful husband ( the second time around ) at 54 years old! Thomas is a widower. I was divorced. We celebrate 8 years of marriage on June 4th. I knew it was love when he said I an Angel sent by God to him. I told him I could fool him – maybe I was a Devil! He replied that “Yes, you could fool me, but you could not fool my Grandchildren, they would not love you, they know you are an Angel. A Devil cannot fool children!” That was it! I knew then I had to marry this man!!!

  88. Lauren

    Donna, I’m so happy for both of you! After reading your column for years, to hear of you in such a state makes me smile all over. Best wishes for a love everlasting.

  89. So happy for you both! :)

  90. nancymn

    Aw, this is so completely awesome. Wish you all the best!

  91. Glenn Fisher

    Donna,

    Excellent (as usual) piece!!!!!! Good luck – can’t wait to meet him !!!

    Love,

    Dad

  92. What a story! how did you meet your DF 2 decades past? AND how did you reunite? Sounds like another blog story ? Also, what are your ages? Just curious… Thanks for sharing!

    • Donna Freedman

      I’m 55, he’s 61. The rest…well, wait for the Lifetime movie. ;-)
      Thanks for reading, and for leaving a comment.

  93. I’m so happy for you both! My husband of 43 years (on May 30, 2013) and I knew when we met that we were meant for each other. We’ve never been separated and love each other more now than when we got married. We’ve had our ups and downs, but have learned that we are best friends, and to depend on each other, to respect and to TRUST each other. My prayer for you and your friend is for you to feel the same way and to grow closer everyday. I don’t remember a day of those 43 years that we haven’t told each other “I love you” at least 4 or 5 times, and meant it. I wish you both joy and happiness!

  94. Somehow I missed this post when you first published it. I’m so happy for you.

    My DF is my (second) husband. I say the second time around is so much better!

    • Donna Freedman

      Thanks, Kay Lynn. I like to think we’ve all learned something by this age.

  95. Colleen

    I don’t know you but I am very happy for both of you. As a 56 year old widow who really isn’t “dating” this gives me a little push to go see what is out there. Lovely story!

    • Donna Freedman

      I’m sorry for your loss, Colleen, and hope that you find what you need when you’re ready for it.
      Thanks for your kind words, and for leaving a comment.

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