Senior Citizen's Guide digital books
Senior Citizen's Guide to South Jersey

Maintaining a Magical Marriage

Too many mid-life and senior couples approach the waning season of life with pessimism, fear, and negativity. Yet, many others of this generation are rising to the challenge and learning to cultivate rewarding and rich marriages filled with new adventures, new interests and new excitement.

As one blessed with parents who demonstrated what it meant to continue a full and meaningful life after “retirement,” I have always looked forward to aging. Both Mom and Dad stayed involved in community affairs and church activities, while maintaining healthy lifestyles. Both blossomed as leaders in new arenas – Mom at a district level in her church’s women’s group and Dad with their rural volunteer fire department.

In retrospect, I can see a few key principles that were exemplified in their approach to life:

Communicate

Listen and talk – more than ever before. You may well be in a situation where you’re suddenly spending more time together than has ever. Get to know each other better. Learning to listening proves that you care. Do you know your wife’s favorite color, her favorite flower, her favorite childhood memory, or whom she considers her best friend? Learn these little things. Or study up on football or fishing or golf, and shock hubby the next time he starts talking about his favorite macho hobby or favorite sport.

On another level, don’t shy away from talking about the more serious issues, e.g., personal preferences for memorial services, disposition of assets upon your death, how you each feel about health and life support. And for heaven’s sake, both spouses need to be aware of your financial needs and resources.

Change

It is critical that spouses be prepared to embrace change. Don’t deny it or try to ignore it. Changes may actually be escalating, but your attitude can transform them into bright spots. Is your husband’s hearing failing? Walk over closer to him when asked to repeat. Can you tell your wife’s vision is going bad? Don’t ridicule or criticize, rather encourage her toward a checkup or a new prescription.

Other changes may be even more critical for you. Losing friends and being aware of your own mortality is not always easy. But again attitude is the key to making the most of all the positive things in your life. Another frequent downer is having one’s children and/or grandchildren move far away. Be creative and learn how to maintain frequent contact via cell phone, Skype, or Facebook videos. Uh-uh – don’t say it. You most certainly can do it!

Choose

Adjust your attitude to realize that what we experience in life is really all about our choices. Begin trying to think of the little things you can do to make your spouse feel loved and treasured. Find ways to make your husband laugh. Make your wife feel alive and treasured by bringing flowers – from the florist or from the shoulder of the highway. Drive to a park in the area just to hold hands and take a walk together. Share an old-fashioned ice cream cone or a milkshake. Re-enact a favorite event from your early years, maybe a picnic in the woods (or the backyard). Buy your favorite classic movie on DVD and pretend your den is the theater where you first dated.

In addition, look for a way the two of you can serve others. After my mom’s death, Dad’s health declined rapidly, but he remarried and lived another productive 12 years. During those years, another couple – younger “seniors” themselves – cultivated a friendship with Dad and my stepmother, taking them out to eat, for drives in the country, and other events. Doing something for someone else is one of the surest ways to enrich one’s own life.

Marriage doesn’t magically happen, but it can seem like magic. Celebrate being where you are in life. Be proactive. Resurrect the best of the past. Try new things together. Serve others. Talk to each other. Embrace change. Above all, choose to love with passion and live with purpose.

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