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Five Ways To Step Into the Role of  “Main Character,” At Midlife

Updated: Feb 26

So much of what we’ve been taught about midlife is untrue. The term itself has so many preconceived notions attached to it. The truth is, midlife can be a phenomenal chapter in our journeys and the perfect time to open oneself up to so much more passion, pleasure, fulfillment, self-awareness, and connection than ever before. If we have the opportunity to explore our needs and desires on a deeper level, and gain the knowledge, confidence, and implementation tools, our entire life’s trajectory can shift. When we stop buying into the myths we’ve been fed as women all these years, the second half of our lives can truly begin. And the opportunities concerning what awesome experiences are available to us, are endless. 


5) Shifting our expectations and boundaries concerning burnout, the mental load, and burdensome roles that leave us depleted.

Not until we address all the daily factors that leave us exhausted, overwhelmed, and that dim our light, can we truly focus on pleasure and joy. We’ve all gotten into bed at least some (if not most) nights feeling like we have been running on empty. Connecting with ourselves, our partner, and the people in our lives whom we wish we had more time to embrace seems impossible. But what if we did a deep dive into how we could delegate responsibilities, set guardrails in place to protect our time and energy, and learn how to more effectively communicate with our loved ones, co-workers, friends, and even acquaintances, insisting that our personal well-being be prioritized? We would be much more available to experiences that we actually want to have, and that truly lead to our satisfaction and fulfillment. While it seems like an uncomfortably selfish approach (because as women we’ve been conditioned to see ourselves as givers and caretakers), it’s actually an act of self love that leads us towards being more patient, carefree, and outwardly gentle.  When our own cup is filled, it positively impacts everyone in our lives. It changes our ability to appreciate others, causes us to trust more, and transforms deep-seeded resentment into gratitude. It allows our minds and bodies to open up and let love in, in a different capacity.

4) Shedding old stories and myths that no longer serve us.

Whether consciously or subconsciously, many of us are still holding on to beliefs we were repeatedly fed while growing up, and even might still be hearing today; how we're expected to speak, behave, think, dress, please …. the list is long. How many times have we adhered to these “rules” out of fear of feeling shame or being put back in line?

As a young girl, I will always remember having my desk moved out to the hallway because I was looking up words like “sex” and “prostitute” in the classroom dictionary.

While that may not have been the place to explore these definitions (but doesn’t that alone even seem ironic and strange?), in that moment I was taught that there are answers I should never seek. I was genuinely curious. During what could have been a more teachable moment, the teacher (whom I really don’t blame), had several options. The one she chose sent a very clear message. The consequences, humiliation, and idea that I was “inappropriate,” stayed with me for a long time. Sharing these anecdotes openly and realizing that so many of us are still maintaining false perceptions of ourselves, and holding back from so much discovery, can be so healing. It leads to the permission we need to feel to leave those old adages behind and move forwards with a newfound sense of bravado, empowerment, and a general sense of, “fuck off,” to the negative voices that live in our minds. Holy shit does that feel amazing. 

3) Moving towards embracing our ever-changing bodies and seeing them as sexy AF.

I began my journey away from diet culture and “wellness,” a few years ago. You can hear more about my journey in certain

podcast episodes, but it has been both an intense struggle and a beautifully liberating experience. Aside from the fact that it's freed up more of my mental bandwidth, since I spend less and less time debating about meals, what I’m ordering at restaurants, and whether or not I need to work out more intensely than I feel like (or at all), the way I carry myself and move through the world is just different. I won’t pretend that I don’t regress at times. It’s not easy. It will probably be a lifelong journey. But there has already been such a shift in how I see myself, how my partner embraces me, and what I’m showing my kids about expanding their mindframe concerning beauty and respecting all bodies. Seeing myself as a mosaic rather than a “mold” is one of the kindest, healthiest things I’ve done. I no longer look into the mirror and see size. I see softness. I see a story. I see a strong woman, who has allowed her muscles to relax so that her whole self can unclench. To stop restricting itself, and breathe in all the enjoyment and goodness she has denied herself for so long. Do I love my body? I actually do. The key now is to keep working on challenging the lies that I need to shrink and fit myself into a society that doesn’t have my best interest at heart, and concentrate on those in my life who do. 

2) Focusing on pleasure for pleasure’s sake.

A ridiculous portion of our lives revolve around setting and attempting to conquer goals. We become so fixated on a target, that we barely concentrate on the actual acts that get us there. I have certainly done it. For years I worked out with the goal of lifting more, running further, and collecting medals. I’m not saying I didn’t enjoy it, but I wasn’t concentrating on the enjoyment factor, because I was so focused on the endgame. In recent years, that has changed. I walk my dogs and digest my surroundings, breathe easily, and notice the path instead of fixating on the direction of the finish line. The same issues occur for sex and intimacy.

Our obsession with orgasms as the ultimate measure of “good sex” and “completion” has led to so much frustration, distraction, and intimate encounters that are more performative than genuinely spontaneous.

When we see an orgasm as the final destination, it often means curtailing the physical experience. It’s like hitting the “eject button” when we could just slowly and smoothly land the plane. I promise you, I have nothing against orgasms. But I do greatly resent the ridiculous emphasis that has been placed on them. I’m angry about how many times women have had to fake it for the sake of someone’s ego, or so we wouldn’t feel like we must somehow be “broken.” No more. The narrative surrounding intimacy needs to change so we can feel and engage. We need to remove the pressure so we can fully immerse ourselves in tons of sensations that occur during an authentically reciprocal experience, rather than centering it all around a six-second release that may or may not actually happen.

I said it in my recent episode, Letting My Freak Flag Fly, and I’ll say it again. At age 46, I am currently having the best sex of my life. With the same partner I’ve had for over 20 years. In a bigger, softer body than ever before. With the lights on (this is actually a huge deal for me). Honestly, the initial conversations (which you can hear more about in the Awakening The Sex Talk Demons Episode), was NOT easy. It took a lot of courage, work, patience, and resilience to have. But I cannot describe how grateful I am, to myself, to my friend and incredible intimacy coach (and cohost of our upcoming Beyond Permission workshop) Leah Carey, and to the countless other brave women who have pathed the way demanding to be heard, seen, and valued. Adam and I have navigated tons of hard conversations, on a very public podcast. We have had the privilege of working with some of the world’s leading experts on communication, relationships, intimacy, and body positivity. Yet this topic was still hard AF to navigate. But I have learned so much from pursuing and participating in these uncomfortable (sometimes volatile) talks.

 The best part? I now know that it is possible to positively transform a romantic relationship and become better lovers within a long term partnership. Whether a person wants to add more variety and ignite the passion in a fresh way, or finally end a sexless phase of a relationship and move away from the belief that they've "lost" their libido, (hot take - it's probably not "lost," it's hibernating and needs a reason to wake the fuck up), engaging in these multifaceted dialogs provide us with priceless tools for communication and a genuinely badass sense of confidence. The personal chain reaction from these initial conversations with my partner have been life-changing. I've proactively addressed issues in some other relationships that were long overdue for constructive conversations: with family members, friends, and business associates. It has caused me to more comfortably set and uphold boundaries I need in place to protect my kids, myself, and my family’s livelihood. Of course, it is all a continuous work in progress. It is all still “under construction.” But the ball is more than rolling. The initial feelings of being stunted out of fear and lack of understanding of how to set these steps into motion are behind me, and the present and future already feel lighter, fuller, and ready for even more abundance. Midlife truly is the time I have demanded to become the main character of my story. And its fucking working.


Want to have conversations with your partner about meaningful topics that matter, and do it in a way that's productive, gentle, and fun? Get our wildly popular Date Night Questions book or ebook, and start connecting in a fresh, healthy, exciting way.

Subscribe to the Marriage and Martinis podcast on whatever platform you listen to hear more raw, relatable episodes from Adam and Danielle.

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