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14th December 2017

Sue Plumtree, 72

Life coach Sue is ‘The Over 50s Love Specialist.’ She has recently released her latest book, ‘Open Your Heart, the 7 Secrets of Strong and Loving Relationships.’ She also runs the Life Enhancing Group at the U3A (University of the Third Age.)

“I got married very young, aged 20, and stayed in that marriage for 37 very unhappy years. My parents had enjoyed a wonderful relationship and I desperately wanted the same for myself. Unfortunately, that was miles away from the reality with my husband. From the moment I first laid eyes on him, I was thinking about how I could change him, but I was very insecure so I decided to see if I could make him fall in love with me. I succeeded but, of course, he wasn’t the man I had imagined him to be. As a result, I was disappointed and I made that very clear. I was controlling and manipulative.

Finally, when the pain of staying was worse than the fear of the unknown I knew I had to leave. I was 60 at the time. Up until I left, I blamed him for my unhappiness – everything he had said, everything he had done or not done. It wasn’t until a few years later that I suddenly realised I wasn’t the innocent bystander I liked to believe I was. That insight was intensely painful and forced me to change the way I saw myself. When you blame someone else, you make yourself a victim, helpless to change anything. But, when you take responsibility for your own part of your relationship, there is something you can do about it.

When you blame someone else, you make yourself a victim, helpless to change anything.

The truth is that many people in later life can’t bear the idea that they have wasted their lives, so they carry on regardless. I was fortunate. I went on to build a loving and fulfilling life for myself. I started attracting caring, supportive and open-hearted friendships and doing work I’m passionate about.

I believe you can find out almost immediately if somebody is right for you but you first need to know yourself. We do have the answers but they tend to be covered up with layers and layers of crap – limiting beliefs, mixed messages from our parents, the education system, society, the media, and so on – all of which we need to unlearn. It was by sheer accident that I discovered I had a deep belief that I didn’t deserve to be loved. I was shocked, but the evidence of my belief was there – an unhappy marriage and superficial friendships.

Meeting Paul two years ago was a complete surprise as, by then, I didn’t feel there was anything missing in my life. I was happy and doing all kinds of new things. I love cooking so I’d decided to start a new U3A (University of the Third Age) group called Come Lunch With Me. As it turned out, Paul was one of the first people to join the group and that’s how we met. Our early conversations just flowed. I recognized in him a very kind man, not only because of how he treats me but also how he talks about and treats other people.

People don’t imagine older generations having sex but we can’t keep our hands off each other.

People don’t imagine older generations having sex but we can’t keep our hands off each other. Good sex starts outside of the bedroom with trust, friendship and emotional intimacy. We had to think about things like STDs, which are rising in our age group and so we both went to the doctors to get checked. Also, I was worried about being seen naked, especially because I have scoliosis. But this is the amazing thing; he looks at me and sees a beautiful woman. It took a while for me to accept that but, in the end, I decided to believe him – a gift to myself and to him. Besides, when I look at him, I see a hunk! He too found it hard to believe at first but now he takes it in his stride.

At 72 I feel great and I know I look good too. That’s to do with having good genes but I’m not afraid of wrinkles. I’ve earned them! There’s nothing I’d change – even the painful times. They were the times that made me the woman I am today and it’s the same with Paul. Sometimes we wonder why we had to wait so long to find each other but the answer is; it took all our experiences to be ready for each other.

I believe in the ripple effect. It takes so little to lift other people up. But we need to learn to open our hearts to ourselves first before we can open it to others.

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