In my late 30s many of my friends went through the 20-year itch — numerous marriages crumbled. As couples age into their 50s and beyond, I noticed unhappy and bored marriages. I think the culprit this time around has nothing to do with an “itch” and everything to do with “change.” As we age, our personalities and lifestyles change and you have to work to keep your marriage alive after 50.
We fall in love with a person and due to age, that person evolves into someone new… and not always to our liking. What can we do?
I believe the one positive way to enjoy contentment in a marriage between older people (and younger, too) is to embrace change by taking the bull by the horns and pursing new avenues that might bring joy into the changed marriage. How? We have to wrap our arms in a positive way around ‘change’ to figure out what is best for the marriage.
I can attest that in my marriage. I continue to work at solving the negatives of age-related situations. It is not always easy and breezy. It is sometimes scary, frustrating and a tad depressing because I am married to an older man who I cherish and adore.
I don’t like to see him aging and you don’t like to see your husband or significant other aging and changing either. I don’t like the fact that I am still hot in the race and my husband is content to smoke his few cigars a week and read. He is passionate over the fact that he is not in the race. His feeling is “I worked all my life, so I do not have to work.” He smiles, laughs and is not depressed at all. He is content. And, I say to myself with an inner smile, “I am grateful he is happy.”
I remember not too long ago when it was easy for us to walk from New York University, where we visited our grandchild in Greenwich Village, to our hotel at 61st and Park. I, over ten years his junior, had to keep up with him. I am grateful we can still walk, though not as far or fast.
I remember when he would suggest we go on a trip out of the blue and I was so surprised and excited, responding with “when and where?” He would say, “Wherever and whenever you want to go.” Now I say, “Let’s take a trip,” and he says, “Great.” This role reversal is the progression of life and I am just grateful that he still wants to go.
Many of your husbands have their own set of problems — retirement that creates restlessness and apathy, loving sex to loving sleep, depression because they still see themselves as the jock who was the jogger and now they have a roll around their tummy.
You say to yourself, “He is not the man I married. We grew apart and he is not fun. I feel this is the end of the line.” This is an old tale, dear readers of mine, and I believe that a wise woman knows how to embrace change because she knows time will bring change in abundance.
I wanted to muse about this because it is part of our marital journey. Once we realize we cannot ward off the changes in a marriage that is anywhere between 35 and 50 years old, we can figure out personal solutions for how we can embrace, not fight change.
A few evenings ago we were having dinner with another couple and the woman said to me, “The roles sure have changed in our marriage. I am now the stronger one and my husband needs me.”
On the drive home after a dinner with my older husband driving, thank God, I looked over at my ultimate concierge and thought, “Over the past year, I have become nostalgic.” Never keeping my thoughts to myself I said to him, “I wish we could relive every day of the past 26 years of our marriage.” He wards off my fears of this aging thing with his notorious statement, “The best is yet to come.” And I smile… but I know.
My thoughts on keeping a marriage alive after 50
I think to myself, as you must: be grateful. Revel in the character of your guy.
My husband’s character will never change. My darling husband’s values will never change. His love for me will never change. He is the ultimate concierge in my emotionally charged life. He is my rock. He is my teacher. He is my lover, my soulmate and I admire him beyond all I know. I am so lucky. There is no change to embrace. I feel uplifted.
I have kept my husband in the “race of life.” In this sense, I embraced change and so must you.
I make plans. I suggest stimulating challenges to pursue. I involve him with his children and grandchildren. When a family wedding, birthday, graduation, anniversary, new birth or whatever comes along, we travel to friends and family living in seven different states. For those of you who read my musings on Garden Valley, Idaho and the commitment vows of our daughter-in-law Jami and Dale, I asked him to honor Jami’s request to perform the ceremony. He did and we wrote the vows together. If he wants to turn down a business request or his real estate associations I say to him, “Go for it.” Being the ultimate concierge that he is, he smiles up at me and says, “You are right. Why not?” Afterwards, he is always delighted that he did.
I know that I am fortunate that my husband can and wants to please me. I know that some of you are in my position and some of you are not. For those of you who are at a disadvantage: You have to try and figure out your way to embrace change to keep your marriage alive after 50.
Two goals in keep your marriage alive after 50
1. Appreciate the good in your man and embrace his strengths daily. This will give you a boost.
2. Invest yourself in the changes of your marriage and take the high road, figuring out ways to embrace change.