There’s a well-established tendency for society to prescribe how women should approach love and when it’s right for them to do so. 

They’re reminded of their ‘biological clock’ at all times. They are made to feel worthless if they’re not romantically associated with a man. They are given strict mandates on the kind of husband they should aim to get, the kind of lifestyle they should adhere to, and the kind of careers they can proceed in. Damn, it’s brutal out here, as they say. 

Yet, despite the collective agony and resentment, a few women lead by example and rail against the judgment with all their might. Gwen Stefani would undoubtedly qualify. She’s been breaking barriers for nearly thirty years, but in recent years, by pursuing love at 50, she has successfully cemented her legacy as one of the boldest, coolest women in pop culture. 

The No Doubt frontwoman married country star Blake Shelton on July 3, 2021. Here’s what we can take away from her midlife milestone:

Gwen’s “dreams were shattered” upon finding out about her husband’s infidelities 

Gwen Stefani met her first husband, Gavin Rossdale, in 1995 while performing with their respective bands No Doubt and Bush at a holiday concert for the radio station KROQ. They tied the knot at St. Paul’s Church, London, in 2002 and welcomed three kids over the years: sons Kingston, Zuma, and Apollo. The marriage had been a blissful union from Gwen’s perspective, yet it took a turn for the worse on Gavin’s end. 

In 2015, the tabloids became abuzz with speculation about Gavin’s infidelities, including a three-year affair with the family nanny. One outlet alleged Gavin had assumed sexual relations with their twenty-year-old nanny, Mindy Mann, shortly after the arrival of his third son Apollo in 2014, whereas other papers reported that Gavin used to bring Mindy along on tour and have sex with her in the bus while his children slept next door. It’s strenuous to prove the veracity of each and every sordid report, but there is reliable evidence backing the claim that Gavin, in fact, had cheated on his wife of thirteen years. 

To no one’s surprise, the marriage dissolved upon the confirmation of Gavin’s affair with the nanny— a classic Hollywood scandal if ever there was one. The entire situation was a nasty, tacky embarrassment for Gwen, one that had her shielding for cover as the mainstream media tore her husband apart and put every aspect of her personal life under the microscope. 

In an interview with Glamour, Gwen essentially corroborated the story and provided a heartbreaking account of the ordeal. “It was the beginning of hell. Like six, seven, eight months of torture, trying to figure out this big secret,” She said that she’d wanted to tell everyone about her pain, but had to keep shut for the sake of her children. The singer went back to work and quietly endured the devastation of her rapidly imploding marriage. 

It’s the most harrowing moments that allow you to shine through and rediscover your strength. Gwen did what she’s always done in dilemmas: pray. She couldn’t let herself get consumed by Gavin’s abhorrent actions; she had to look out for her boys and stand up for herself. 

My dreams were shattered […] All I wanted my whole life was to have babies, be married, like what my parents have. 

Gwen Stefani to Harper’s Bazaar

Being cheated on is, unfortunately, one of the most mundane phenomenons of the human experience. The impulse to “cheat” is, in many ways, endemic to our species, so if you’ve made it thus far without encountering it in any form — as the aggressor or the victim — you’re one of the lucky ones. The action itself may be pedestrian, but it nonetheless carries lasting implications on the individuals involved. If you’re the victim, it can seismically alter your sense of self and shatter your confidence from stem to stem. 

On many occasions, you’ll be forever disillusioned with love and may find that it’s nearly impossible to place your faith in someone and actually depend on them to fulfill you in any way, shape, or form. Gwen shouldn’t just be admired for bearing the torture in the spotlight; she went against the grain and opened her heart to someone new in a matter of months. And boy, did it work out. 

Gwen and Blake both had trust issues at the beginning of their relationship

Gwen started dating Blake Shelton in November 2015 after meeting him on The Voice. It was a close, co-working partnership that soon blossomed into an extraordinary romance that transformed both their universes for the better. What’s oddly charming is that both Gwen and Blake were going through “literally the exact same thing in literally the exact same time frame,” so they were able to bond with each other in relation to their heartache rather than beat around the bush. 

Gwen also detailed how both of them faced troubling trust issues in the initial weeks of getting to know one another, but they were able to conquer them with communication and empathy. Ultimately, it’d been a “miracle” for Gwen to find love on her doorstep so soon after “months and months of torture.” 

I feel so excited that I have someone in my life that now I have a chance at happiness For a long time to come. It’s just a blessing, the whole thing. It’s a miracle.

Gwen Stefani to The TODAY Show

Furthermore, there’s an unpleasant stigma around dipping your toe into the dating pool in your late forties and fifties, as if women of a certain age become suddenly undesirable and therefore aren’t worthy of love. They’re either portrayed as malicious cougars fixated on reliving their youth or sad, lonely women that just can’t catch a break. Gwen’s thriving relationship with Blake epitomizes how there isn’t an expiration date to finding love, and that it doesn’t matter how many strokes of bad luck you’ve suffered as long as you’re in a healthy position to find happiness again. There shouldn’t be any misgivings about whether older women are desirable — they are desirable as long as they feel so in their own skin. 

Love is all-accepting 

Pay no heed to what anyone dares to say — love honestly doesn’t care about your age, or your background, gender, occupation, or status in society. Those who experience it in its full glory understand that it’s possible to find and cherish love at any age. All you have to do is open your heart to it and let it consume you on its own terms. In fact, there’s an argument to be made about how our life experiences fortify us to accept and savor love more healthily at a later age. 

If Gwen could overcome her traumas to build a future with Blake at age 50, nothing is stopping you from grabbing life by its horns and seeking your own true love. Societal pressures are wholly artificial and manufactured, whereas love never discriminates. 

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