Young couples usually have simple objectives in mind – starting a family, buying a home, and creating a life together. If you met your partner in midlife or later, your relationship can become stronger and more enjoyable through the creation of shared goals that fit your stage of life.
The first step, preferably taken before you start looking for a partner, is to clarify your own life goals. What is most important to you? What do you really care about doing during your time on Earth? Some people find this morbid, but the exercise of writing your own obituary or eulogy can be a useful way to think through how you would like to be remembered, and what you need to do before your options expire. This time of life provides a wonderful opportunity to reassess your personal goals and to think about what you most want to accomplish. Have you always wanted to write a novel or compose a symphony? Do you want to focus on strengthening your bonds with children and grandchildren? Will you feel your life is incomplete if you never get to see the Eiffel Tower?
If nothing else, thinking about your own goals will help as you get to know potential partners. Talking about hopes and dreams is a wonderful way to learn about each other’s values and desires. It can bring the conversation to a deeper level and allow you to connect on important issues.
Once you find your special someone, the two of you can enjoy creating a shared vision of the future. While of course we never know what fate has in store for us, holding hands and dreaming together is a joyous part of a new relationship at any age. If you are clear and explicit about your own goals, you can avoid the heartbreak of choosing a partner who can neither join you nor support you. Some compromise may be necessary, but true love does not require abandoning what you hold most dear.
You may find wonderful possibilities together. Exploring new places and passions with a companion can be double the fun, and in the process, the two of you may decide to get your scuba certification, build a house, train a service dog, or plant a garden. Working side-by-side on a project can enhance your bond and your enjoyment of the work. Of course, each of you will still have interests and activities that the other finds boring or distasteful, and that’s okay. Each couple has to find the right balance of time together and time alone.
Some goals require agreement: where to live, major financial decisions, inviting other family members to live with you, and more. Some goals simply require that you support each other: giving your partner time and space to write or paint, cheering as your partner runs a marathon, or cooking healthy meals to support your partner’s weight loss. Still other goals offer the opportunity to join each other in making this a creative, productive, and enjoyable time of life.
Northwest authors Jennifer Y. Levy-Peck, PhD, a psychologist, and her husband Charles Peck are write a weekly column on midlife relationships. They are working on a new book, "Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40."
Previous Magic at Midlife Columns:
Having the “Senior Safer Sex” Conversation
Planning Your Wedding (for Mature Couples)
Too Young or Too Old to be Your Partner?
Who Pays for What on a Date
Starting a New Relationship Before Your Kids Are Grown
Why You Need a Relationship Roadmap
Living with Pets and a New Partner
Exploring New Roles
Rowing Through Life Together
Let’ Talk About Sex
Helping Your Adult Children Accept Your New Partner
In Sickness and In Health
Step-Grandparenting Can Be Grand
Enjoy Life Together
Online Dating for the Older Set
Enjoying the Single Life
Sex in Midlife Relationships: Complicated but Wonderful!
Upgrade Your Communication Skills