If you’re over 50–or approaching 50–and single, widowed or divorced, you’re better off not getting married! This suggestion was offered by Dodie Milardo, a romance novelist and philantropist as a recent guest on my Internet radio program, Middle Age Can Be Your Best Age. But here’s the kicker: widowed at age 44, Dodie herself did re-marry after age 50 and remains happily married today at 59.
The truth is, it’s perfectly all right to get married for the first time or to marry again late in middle age–heck, even when you’re 80–if you enter into the commitment with your eyes wide open. As you contemplate serious dating and matrimony after age 50, your life goals and motivations undoubtedly are far different than they were in your twenties:
- For most of us, desire, passion and “romance” are less of a factor in life’s second half. We’ve been there and done that. (Note: if you believe the ads, lack of passion is not a concern for those 50+ gentlemen on Cialis, LaVitra or Viagra!)
- You do not get married after 50 to start a family. In fact, you may inherit one or the two of you may need to blend families, not always an easy task. Are you up to reaching out to your potential new spouse’s rebellious teens?
- Quite frankly, most of us are not as physically attractive in our fifties as we were in our twenties and if we are we may not remain that way for long. Do you truly love and cherish your potential life partner for the person he or she is inside?
- One or both potential spouses may carry sorrow, resentment or complications from a prior failed relationship. Will regret over past baggege harm your new relationship going forward?
- Is financial security or the fear of being alone and lonely in old age your primary motivation? Ask yourself, “Am I willing to marry a person I cherish as a dear friend, one who feels like an old shoe, one I can talk to, one who enjoys the same sports, hobbies and social activities even if he or she doesn’t romantically ’turn me on’?”
Far be it from me (or anyone else) to tell you not to search for that one true love a second time around! Do you truly wish to marry again? Ask yourself these questions:
- “Do I enjoy my life today as a single person?” (List and weigh the pros and cons.)
- “After all these months or years on my own, am I simply too set in my ways to be a good life partner?”
- “If I was married before, what do I miss most about not being married today? What don’t I miss at all?”
- “Do I still carry regret over my prior breakup? Do I still miss my ex? Will I measure every future potential mate against my former spouse?” (Not a good idea!)
- “Do I have firm goals, objectives and a plan in mind for the rest of my life? Is marriage essential to that plan? In fact, am I happy and fulfilled today through cherished friendships, hobbies, volunteer causes, my children from the prior marriage and casual dating?”
- “Does lack of a spouse and a true life partner create a painful void in my life today?”
Once you re-enter the dating game and begin to seek out a new long-term relationship, keep your eyes wide open. Before getting serious, here are a few issues to ponder:
- “When the new “love of my life” calls, does it excite me to hear his or her voice? Does my heart skip a beat?”
- “Do I truly miss my potential life partner when he or she is not around?”
- “Do my potential new spouse and I share the same interests and agree upon what’s most important in life?” (Contrary to popular opinion, over the long haul opposites generally do not attract.)
- “What am I willing to sacrifice for my potential life partner? What is he or she willing to sacrifice for me?”
- “Am I an ideal mate for my new sweetheart? If not presently a very good fit, how much am I able and willing to change?”
- “Have I observed my potential spouse in the early morning before shaving (men), washing, combing hair and putting on makeup (women) and deoderant? Has he or she observed me in the raw?”
- “With this person, have I experienced daily living, or at least imagined what it will be like, and not just date night? Over the years, can I live with his or her irritating little habits? Do certain things he or she does drive me nuts?”
- “Does my potential spouse really know me? How much of myself have I revealed? How well do I really know him/her?”
- “Have I observed my potential spouse when he or she is angry or under stress? When we face difficulty together, is he or she a positive inspiration and a calming influence or does (s)he make a stressful situation worse?”
- Does my potential spouse accept my best friends and family? Do I get along with his/hers?”
- “Do the two of us have similar thrift habits? Do I consider him or her to be wasteful and extravengent or a miserly penny pincher? Are our long-term financial goals in sync?” (Warning: bickering over finances is the number one cause of marital strife and breakup.)
Should you decide to move forward and tie the knot for a second (or third) time, here are a few tips to help ensure that this marriage lasts:
- Money is a leading cause of marital strife. If you can’t agree on finances, consider keeping seperate accounts.
- Men crave affection–not necessarily sex–more than women. Ladies, as well as men, carve out time in your busy day for regular cuddling, kissing and hand holding.)
- Share the blame. Refering to “we” when discussing mistakes will strengthen your marriage. What do you gain by always attempting to assign blame to “you“?
- Too many married couples fall into daily “maintenance” conversations only. Take time out each day for truly effective communication; ask questions and listen to your spouse’s concerns–what’s really going on in his or her life?
- Move on. There is nothing more destructive to a relationship than refusing to let go of the past. Is it really worth it to rehash an argument you had two weeks ago?
Interestingly enough, the five suggestions above were revealed by divorced couples looking back on why their prior relationships failed. They were mentioned by a second guest this week on my Internet radio program, Dr. Terri Orbuch, recognized nationally as “The Love Doctor.”
To learn more about love and marriage late in middle age, I invite you to listen to the November 5, 2012 Internet podcast of my program, “Middle Age Casn Be Your Best Age.” You can tune us in any time at your convenience on WebTalkRadio.net.