marriage at age 65 is different from when you were 25. The
reasons are many and varied. One important factor is the time
period when the two people first learned about relationships.
People who were born before 1940 have different expectations
about roles and relationships than people who were born in the
deal with aging depends on how well the couple works together to
adapt to changing demands.
Nest: Raising children can absorb a tremendous amount of
energy. It also provides structure and a sense of purpose. When
(and if) the marriage survives this intense child rearing period
intact, couples often feel relief mixed with sadness. There are
now opportunities to direct energies toward personal goals that
were previously deferred.
Retirement: Depending the
couple’s previous roles within the marriage, retirement may
require different types of coping skills. For many couples
retiring today, the wife has been a homemaker and the husband
has worked outside the home. It is common for there to be some
‘turf’ conflicts when the husband is around the house more. A
retired husband may continue to expect his wife to do the
housework while he ‘takes it easy’. The wife may expect the
housework to be reapportioned. While the traditional wife may
not change her routine much, her retired husband must adjust to
a loss of many sources of self-worth and social support from his
job. When the dust settles from this transition, the increased
involvement with each other can bring a couple closer together.
functioning: Sexual interest and performance change with
age. Some couples have an active sexual life into their 70’s and
beyond. For others, changes in sexual functioning can affect the
marriage. If sexual intimacy helps hold the relationship
together; they may feel that a source of closeness is lost. Some
couples can learn to show affection in different ways.
Dependency: As our bodies age, we experience changes in
vision, hearing, reaction time and physical strength. Some
degree of change is nearly universal. Other kinds of changes are
not normal, and constitute disease. With age, many people
acquire a number of relatively stable chronic illnesses that may
affect their ability to function. Sometimes one spouse must take
over responsibilities that the other one used to handle. This
may involve physical tasks (carrying laundry upstairs) or
intellectual tasks. (paying bills).
Illness and Mortality: The appearance of an illness that
might severely limit one’s functioning can cause a marital
crisis. The affected spouse may fear helplessness, loss of
independence, pain and death. The healthy spouse may worry that
he will have to see his mate deteriorate, suffer or die. He may
also fear being pushed beyond the limit of his ability to care
for his spouse. It may be comforting to share feelings about
what is happening and what may come to pass. The alternative is
a barrier of silence.
years of knowing and learning about one another can help couples
to give each other the emotional support and understanding they
need to cope with these changes.
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