Every stage of marriage has its rewards and its challenges, and a marriage that’s decades old is as deserving of your attention as a new one. While mature marriages often struggle with the adjustment to aging and the bad habit of taking each other for granted, many couples, free of child-care burdens and career pressures, discover a renewed romance in their senior years.
How can you refresh your marriage and build it up to become the central and positive force in your life? In several studies done over the years, men and women in enduring, happy relationships report strikingly similar reasons for their success:
Be each other’s best friends. Give your spouse your whole attention for a period of time each day. Seek out and explore new hobbies and interests to share together. Ask your spouse for his or her opinions and keep each other up to date on your thoughts, plans and dreams. Remain loyal, protective of and committed to each other.
Communicate fairly and productively. Be direct and clearly state your needs. Even when disagreeing, be respectful. Realize that your spouse may have something to add to your view of the situation.
Allow some independence from each other. True, happy couples do much together and agree on most issues. Still, they each have a clear sense of self and do things individually.
Don’t be afraid to pursue your own interests and enjoy your circle of friends without your partner. Psychologists believe that humans have both a powerful need to connect and a powerful need to be independent.
Remind each other of the good times. You have a lifetime of things to cherish. Delight in the present, but also frequently recall the good times of years past.
It is a myth that older marriages are sexless ones. A study of older men and women found that more than 80 percent said a satisfying love life was important. In fact, more than half of both sexes said they were more sexually in tune with each other than when they were younger.
That’s not to say that sex doesn’t change with age. Indeed, many people must overcome physical limitations. A frank discussion with your physician may surprise you for the solutions it provides. Chronic conditions such as diabetes, arthritis or depression often complicate sex lives, but this should be discussed with your physician in much the same way you would inquire about any other side effects or concerns.
Aside from physical issues, some older couples have lost touch with their shared intimacy. Try designating “intimacy days.” On alternating days, one partner makes an intimacy request. The request must be reasonable, achievable that day and specific-for instance: “Give me a backrub” or “Take a walk with me.”
Holding hands, frequently hugging-such tips may sound corny, but they are the often neglected keys to reigniting your marriage’s spark.