Making It Work: Celebrity Designer Robin Wilson on Love, Marriage and Motherhood in Your 40s
Courtesy of Robin Wilson

Eco-friendly designer to the stars Robin Wilson calls A-listers and leaders like Bill Clinton clients and has received numerous design awards, but the achievements she’s most proud of in her life have happened more recently. At age 41, she found true love, was married last year and is expecting her first child, a baby girl, next month. She met her husband through mutual friends and didn’t have to compromise her success or standards to find him.

“I was happy with my life [before I met him],” says Wilson. “I think that bringing a fulfilled person to a relationship is always a plus. That way, you have a certain level of professional and personal accomplishment.” The newlywed and mom-to-be opened up to us about what it’s like to find the love of your life and start a family at 40 and why she’s loving every second of it.

ESSENCE.COM: Describe the moment you knew your husband was  ‘The One.’
ROBIN WILSON: When I met him, he and I looked into each other’s eyes and he has such a kind smile. I fell in love, but tried to play it cool. We were engaged within 90 days. And it always felt right to move at that pace because we had open and honest communication about our expectations from the beginning.

ESSENCE.COM: How is love and marriage at 40 different from love in your 20s and 30s? Has your perspective changed?
WILSON: If I could go back to my 20s and 30s, there are things and choices that would change, but the experiences made me better prepared for this relationship, and I can give it the attention it deserves without self-doubt. The 30s were hardest because I had two relationships that I thought were serious, but in hindsight, they were not really honest, nurturing or kind individuals who were part of my life at that time. When I recovered from the pain of those relationships, it was easy to set parameters for a life partner. I set four criteria and he meets all of them: someone who was kind, honest, had a sense of purpose and respectful of feelings. He is amazing and certainly the experiences in my 20s and 30s allowed me to believe in the possibility that there was a different kind of partner out there and I found him. Neither of us had been married before, so we think that we waited to meet the “right one.” We were not playing any games. We both knew that we wanted to have a family. What’s it like being a newlywed in your 40s?
WILSON: The hardest part of being a partner in a marriage is the need for communication and compromise on a daily basis. And, even though one does not want to admit it, we are often “set in our ways.” One of the first mistakes I made was early in our marriage. I was working late but did not think to give my husband the courtesy of a call to inform him of my time to arrive home from the office. He was worried about me – especially since I had also neglected to charge my cell phone and he could not reach me. That has never happened again. We are both learning how to communicate and to share our goals. It is always challenging the first year of marriage, but particularly when you are also expecting a baby – and we have to discuss subjects such as parenting philosophies, relocation to the suburbs and still manage to remember that the foundation of our relationship is a strong “couple” mindset. How do you and your husband “make it work”?
WILSON: We make it work because we are committed to each other and share our love in action and words. He likes alone time to read, write and ruminate over work, and I give him that space. I am very intense sometimes and he is very patient with me. I think that we balance each other out, and take the time to listen to each other. There are times to discuss something and other times to listen only, and we are feeling our way through that maze. I think the only way to make it work is communication.

Courtesy of Robin Wilson How do you balance marriage and a busy career?
WILSON: We take time to have “a day off” – often on weekends, when we read the paper and make breakfast for each other. He does early exercise each morning and I sleep late. The most interesting change has been moving my design studio into a home office which allows me to have a 14-stair commute. That means that I work in a focused manner all day and we are able to share dinner, even though he is a daily commuter to the office.
ESSENCE.COM: What do you and your husband do to keep the “spark” in your day-to-day lives?
WILSON: Each week, we try to do something nice for each other that is out of the ordinary. For example, he knows that I like a certain flavor of candy, so last night he bought me a lollipop. And I know that he likes brownies, so he will come home and the smell of fresh-baked brownies will fill the house. And he regularly leaves me a love note that I will find in the house – on the counter near my toothbrush, in the kitchen, on the mail table or on my chair in the home office. It makes me feel special.

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