Happy and Husband-less


You won’t find a picture of Rachel Walton on Match.com. Nor will you find the 42-year-old Florida natural-health enthusiast, writer and former nurse describing herself in a newspaper personals ad.

Not that these dating aids are wrong, but “it’s not my style,” says Walton. “I can’t even imagine I could pull that one off.”

In a generation where we — unlike Mom and Dad — have had the freedom to question, to explore inner feelings, to do life and relationships differently, many of us have tried to shed the old-time societal messages.

The ’90s saw a backlash, for example, against the oft-quoted 1986 Newsweekcover story, “The Marriage Crunch,” which said that never-wed, white, college-educated women 40 or older were “more likely to be killed by a terrorist than to find husbands.”

“At times I feel lonely, but my life is not about looking to find a man,” says Walton. “If I find a man, that would be wonderful, but it’s not my goal, and it’s not going to be what makes everything all better.”

What is her goal? “My goal is to find my mission in life — that may or may not include a relationship.

“It’s a subtle difference between having my whole attention on waiting for a relationship, vs. breathing more deeply into who I am and standing in that.”

She came to a new way of being single in her 40s. Before that, the questions cropped up mostly at key events, such as the marriages of her brothers.

“At those times, it was very much, `Why does it work for other people and not for me?’” Walton says. “Then they have one child after the other, and each time, it’s like, `Do I want that, can I have that, should I be wanting that? Is there something wrong with me?’ ”

The biological clock is only one of several thorny issues: What to do with sexual urges and fears of growing old alone are others.

“At times, being single holds a quality of aloneness and solitude that is good and right,” Walton says. “At other times, being single feels full of loneliness which is, at times, unbearable.

“Waking up in the middle of the night, or when I’m first waking in the morning,” she adds. “Those threshold times can feel particularly vulnerable.”

While Walton’s 7-year-old Lab mix Mattie does provide some comfort, she misses having someone to share with day-to-day. On some level, however, she is using this time in her life — over 40 and single — as a path to growth.

“There’s some way that some deep exploration and connection into myself needs to be there,” she says. “That’s the journey, and it’s not easy, and it’s not quick and simple, and it’s not necessarily comfortable.”

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