Struggling with Your Relationship in the Golden Years

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Did you know that divorce rates for baby boomers skyrocketed during the 70’s and 80’s? In fact, first-time marriages were only given a 50 percent chance of lasting. The odds weren’t great.

Unlike their parents who married for life, the message to Baby Boomers who struggled with their marriage was, “if you aren’t happy, just get a divorce.”  It wasn’t as if divorce didn’t exist prior to this generation, but people tended to associate divorce with movie stars and not their next-door neighbors. 

It was the progressive Baby Boomers with their spiraling numbers of divorces who created a social acceptance of the dissolution of marriage.  A divorced woman of the 40’s or 50’s was often socially shunned.  Two decades later being divorced, and, reentering the dating scene was given a status of acceptability.  Almost, the “in” position to have. Very different from the tendency of the previous generation to give a social stigma to those who chose to end their marriages.  Their view, was once married, forever married- a life commitment.  

Aging baby boomers now entering their 60’s and 70’s are often in a second marriage or maybe even a third.  They are now older and wiser.  Expectations for marriage have changed or, simply, have become more realistic. Compatibility reigns as one of the most important components in a relationship. They are looking for a companion to spend those Golden Years with- to travel with- to share interests –to grow old with.

Older and wiser, often desirous of a long lasting relationship. They find age can, also, bring a stagnant, a set in one’s ways attitude. Old dogs may need to learn new tricks, or improve old ways to achieve the benefits of a Golden Years marriage. 

Three components for compatibility are:  Commitment, Collaboration, and Communication.

Commitment

Make the commitment to your partner to give your “all” to the success of your marriage.  Unlike the 70’s/80’s couples who easily left a marriage, don’t think divorce.  Choose a “death till we part” attitude…  As a couple of 70 years expressed to me, “Marriage is made of hills and valleys.  The hills are no fun, but we have climbed hills together for seven decades”.  There is no greater sense of accomplishment than working together to overcome the hills- a team of two.

Collaboration

Planning together:  a trip, a new addition to the house, a health regime, a together goal.  Couples, who plan, conspire in decision making get along better.  Each one has an equal part in what happens- less chance for blame if the house addition turns out poorly or the trip is a disaster.  The process of collaboration brings excitement, anticipation.  Think about the last time you planned a trip together, the fun in scheduling what sights to see, places to eat, simply, anticipating the experience-together.  

Communication 

Marital counselors say this is a critical component of any relationship. Communication is as much physical as verbal. The husband who helps with household chores, opens doors, shows consideration is communicating his love as much as the man who verbalizes, “I love you”.  Communication is achieved through respect and regard.  The wife, who constantly interrupts her spouse as he talks, is not communicating her love.  Talking together is great; sharing the day’s activities is wonderful, but even better takes the time through your actions to communicate your love.

All relationships need work, no matter your age. If you are struggling in your marriage or family relationships, you can always try online therapy such as ReGain to improve things.