The Midlife Love Story
Magic at Midlife: Your Relationship Roadmap for Romance After 40
Recently, we've seen several articles in the newspaper about couples in their eighties or nineties who are celebrating 50 or 75 years of marriage. These stories feature good-looking seniors whose love stories have historical settings. They reminisce about their youth together and the decades of their relationship. We admire their perseverance and their ability to weather the inevitable difficulties of a long life together with grace and appreciation for each other.
Those of us who marry in midlife are unlikely to make the Golden or or Diamond anniversary benchmarks (although if I live to be 104 and Charles makes it to 111, we could celebrate our 50th anniversary...). The stories of our youth are separate ones, and we may have just a few years of shared history. We sometimes get a startled response from people who ask us how long we've been married, expecting to hear 30 years or more, when we tell them we celebrated our seventh anniversary this year. It was even more fun to tell people that we were newlyweds - we worked that one for at least a couple of years!
Midlife couples may have "his and her" kids and grandkids, and may have love stories that started online rather than in World War II. We just saw another story in the newspaper about a couple celebrating their 35th anniversary. This couple met and married in their late forties, and brought nine children into the relationship - four of hers, five of his. In the article, they described some challenges in combining such a large family, but also spoke fondly of a Hawaiian vacation with all eleven family members, and of the way their kids had come to appreciate the strong bond of their marriage.
Our point is simply that, while it is wonderful to admire those whose partnerships have lasted a lifetime, couples who find each other in their fifties, sixties, seventies, and beyond are pretty special, too. Jennifer remembers her mother's cousin who had a long and loving marriage before her first husband died. She fell in love a few years later with a man who thought she had hung the moon. They laughed together, traveled together, and enjoyed every moment of their shared life. This was one of the sweetest love stories Jennifer had ever witnessed, and it helped her to think differently about late-in-life relationships.
Most of us want a caring companion in our later years, regardless of when we find each other. So while we join in saying, "Isn't that wonderful!" about couples who have been together for most of their lifetimes, it is worth celebrating love stories of any duration. Happy Valentine's Day to young lovers, no matter how old you are!
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: