No one expects to be alone in their 40’s and 50’s. As I look around me, it seems that more and more people struggling to find the love that seems to elude many of us. This article takes a look at the serious side as well as the humorous side of being single and set in your ways!

I was having a chat with a colleague and good friend of mine about life and how our upbringings had shaped our views on relationships with the opposite sex.  We come from completely different backgrounds and experiences, but both struggled with dating, marriage, and relationships post divorce.  It made me really think about the expectations we set for ourselves and others.  For those of you who have followed my blogs, you know that I am hell-bent on doing things differently in order to elicit different results.  This has required a tremendous amount of reflection and redirection in attitude and thinking.

One thing that my girlfriend mentioned was that her dad, her primary caregiver growing up, always said “A man is not a plan.”  As soon as the words came out of her mouth, I knew I had to write about it.  I had been brought up with the expectation that you find a rich man and marry him as soon as you could.  My sister did just that.  I of course being the rebel, and rejecting all things material, married for love…twice.

Both times I ended up in worse financial shape after the marriage than before.  I have no one to blame but myself.  I willingly let someone else take control of my finances.  Somewhere in my formative years, I was conditioned to be in the backseat of the decision making vehicle, even though to the casual observer I seemed like a strong, smart, independent girl.

I wanted deep in my heart to believe in the Cinderella story, and wanted to stand by my man as he went out and conquered the world and brought home the bacon.  I put my career on a shelf to raise kids, and although I don’t regret it, I wonder why.  I face a life alone with no safety net.  No retirement, no savings, very little in the bank on any given day.  Why? Because my man was my plan.  I was safe, he was my provider and my protector, and it came at an expensive price.

A Man is not a PlanAs recently as a year ago, I was still allowing a man to control my direction.  Thankfully, he is long gone and I have been alone long enough to start my own design for my life:  a plan to get out of this mess I have made and a plan to move forward with what is right for me.  None of it has been easy and I have a long way to go.  What I know is this:  its up to me.  No one is going to do it for me, I’m not getting off the hook that easy.

What’s awesome is that my daughter, now 18, has watched very carefully.  She has a plan that doesn’t involve a man.  She struggles with this because her boyfriend is ready for a long term relationship, but she knows that college and pursuing her vision for her life is more important.  I see her juggle the guilt of feeling selfish with the delight in having options.  The world is wide open and there is nothing she can’t accomplish and she knows it.  Perhaps the reason for the road I had to travel was to teach my daughter and my boys that roles and expectations are what you make them.

A Man is not a PlanI feel blessed to have been given an opportunity to live in a country where it is never too late to make something of yourself.  I want to lift people up along the way.  I am grateful that my kids are already light years ahead of where I was at their age.  Perhaps they can set an example for their own children to follow.  I want them to know that dreams start to become reality the day you believe in the plan.

Jerny Rieves, cscs, pes, ces, health education - health educator - Scottsdale