Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Advice from the Menopause Zone - for those 25 and under

Now that I'm at "that age", I'm hearing about more old friends/acquaintances getting late in life divorces. The one thing they all have in common is that they got married in their early 20's. What I find interesting is that a big portion of them are saying some of the same things I heard from my moms' (that's a plural possessive - if that's possible as I had a lot of moms growing up) friends going through divorces in their late 40's and early 50's.

Trust me, as a menopausal women who can drive herself nuts, I get why men of a certain age may decide to walk away. We're tough to live with, I'm the first to admit it. Horomones are all over the place, our thermostats are shot and unlike pregnancy there's no cute baby as a reward at the end of the line. It can even be worse if you weren't sure of who you were before you got married and tend to rely on your spouse as your primary focus in life.

The general recipe for this disaster is a smart young women meets boy with potential in college, they fall in love and get married. Kids arrive shortly thereafter and - if they could afford it - she quits her job to be a full-time mom. Which is awesome work if you can get it! After the kids are grown and head off to college, she turns to focusing on the house or spouse or takes on grandkids, but in general does not return to the workforce. Most went from their parent's house to dorms or apartments with loads of roommates and never lived on their own or really had a career before being wed.

Then - WHAM! Divorced and on their own they don't really know how to cope with life or have any idea who they are or were.

So, my dears, please do yourselves a favor. Wait to get married. Live on your own for a while first. Really get to know you, what you like and what you want in a partner. Some of you may discover that you aren't who you thought you were, maybe your orientation is different, maybe the career choice you made before knowing what you like to do was wrong. Take this time to learn. Learn how to take care of your own finances, your car, your job and life in general.

Granted, I didn't get married until I was in my 30's, but I knew what I wanted in a partner and I lucked out. It takes a lot of love and tolerance to ride this roller coaster called life with another person. Give yourself the time to find that right person. Sure, it's a lot easier to have kids when you're young and have more energy, but waiting until you're older and more stable will take a lot of the stress out of it too.

Make sure your partner has a viable career (really, no one can survive on fast food wages unless maybe they are in management or own a franchise) and can handle their own money. Have some outside interests that you invest time in without your partner. Being able to spend time by yourself or away from your partner is a good thing. We all need our own space at times. Don't give up best friends for your partner's sake.

Don't get me wrong this advice isn't just for the straight girls, swap out the gender-related pronouns and you'll get my drift. Take some time to figure out who you are and to truly realize that you can survive on your own. Hopefully you'll be laid off at least once before you hit 30. It was the best gift I could have been given. Having gone through that young, before I had lots of responsibilities, taught me how to bounce back fast, get back on my feet and find my next job. It also taught me to have a business plan ready to go should I need to work for myself during any lulls. (I hate accounting with a passion and suck at marketing, otherwise I'd have my own company).

Ok, almost off my soap box. I'll just leave you with this: know that you are a perfectly capable young woman and can survive on your own just fine.  Be brave! Take Risks! And most of all enjoy the ride!