Connect with us

How Do I Date

Age Gap Couples Will Probably Be Faced With Tough Decisions

age gap couples

Relationship issues

Age Gap Couples Will Probably Be Faced With Tough Decisions

Age gap couples can enjoy a loving relationship

When older-man-younger-woman age gap couples first marry, they generally feel emotionally more or less the same age.  Some of these relationships may include aspects of a father-daughter kind of closeness. In many cases though the kinds of marriage problems and delights that they face are the same as those faced by most new couples.

During the long period of “midlife”, ages 25-65, such couples often enjoy life together quite comfortably.  How well they fare, however, is likely to depend on the extent of their skills for talking cooperatively about their differences. When, for instance, one spouse would like to have children and the other is more interested in visiting his grandchildren, the spouses need solid skills for talking cooperatively to create solutions that work optimally for them both.

As they continue to age, age gap couples will continue to need to negotiate differing life-stage desires . Strains between his desires and hers may arise as he faces retirement while she is still heading upwards career-wise.  Similarly, as his physical decline brings age-related decreases in ability to enjoy sports or travel, the couple may need to find new leisure interests to pursue together.  Again, as with any couple, the more, quantitatively and qualitatively, that spouses differ, the higher their skill level needs to be at talking sensitively together and finding win-win action plans.

The same age gap may feel larger in the elder years

Then comes the potentially toughest part.  The challenges may increase exponentially for age gap couples as an elder spouse enters the twilight years.

A thoughtful friend of mine, author and teacher Joan Baronberg, wrote the following brief essay that encapsulates the realities of the autumn years of aging.

Ungrowing

By Joan Baronberg

I’ve been thinking about parallels between growing up and growing older.

The older we get, the more like little children we become. Very old people are often quite self-centered, focused on their own primal needs. They require progressively more physical help to accomplish the basics of eating and toileting. They whine and cry, sometimes as easily as, and sounding like, little kids. Anger too is closer to the surface.

Then there are the “growing pains.” We talk about aches and pains in the legs of youth as “growing pains.”  As we age we get more aches and pains in all our bones. So are these “ungrowing pains?” Is all the other aging stuff “ungrowing” too?

We talk of life as a cycle. I picture the changes like a graph on a chart. We move to the apex and then down from it.

I observed the downward changes closehand with my mother’s descent into dementia. Her intellectual and physical accomplishments at first moved slowly downward.  They then picked up speed away from that apex until the details in her world seemed to make as little sense to her as they probably would to an infant. Emotionally she wavered between short spikes of anger and long easy-going waves of sweetness. Like an infant, she was always eminently huggable.

I recently re-read an article on Israeli kibbutzim now taking in elderly non-members and providing retirement, nursing, and assisted living care. As Leora Eren Frucht explained in her article “The Kibbutz at Twilight” (Hadassah Magazine, November 2007), “Once considered the best places to grow up, Israeli’s iconic collectives are now known as the best places in the country to grow old.”  Senior residences for members are kept in the center of the kibbutz, “near the dining hall, at the very hub of the kibbutz. This location expresses the way the elderly are seen on kibbutzim. They were the founders; they remain at the heart of the kibbutz.'”  Nice.

More to the point of my musings above is: “At Kibbutz Givat Brenner, veteran member Nurit Sichuk recalls how the parents used to gather outside the children’s home at the end of the day to feed their kids and put them to bed. It was a social experience; everyone would meet everyone outside the children’s home. Now, this is the place for those social encounters. Every day around 6 in the evening, the members congregate around the nursing home to visit their parents, have dinner with them and,” she adds with a sigh, “put them to bed.'”

——————

For the age gap wife, being there to “put her husband to bed” represents a major shift from the excitement of their initial marriage.  How will she stay connected with her husband, keeping him, as in the kibbutz, “at the center” of her life, without sacrificing her ability to live the more vibrant life of a younger person?  Finding a way to keep a significantly older senior citizen whose capabilities have radically faded at the center of one’s life while still living fully as a mid-life woman, that’s a challenge.

Yet marrying someone of the same age offers no guarantee that end-of-life physical and emotional decline will occur simultaneously.  The odds may be better, and yet many couples age asymmetrically.  That’s life…

Photo:playmate of the year 2 160510 frommystockphoto.com

<h4>Author’s Books</h4>
<script src=”http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&amp;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;MarketPlace=US&amp;ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fwidgetsamazon-20%2F8010%2F2dfa1ade-82e2-4d12-9041-8208d7c5d46e&amp;Operation=GetScriptTemplate” charset=”utf-8″>// <![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// < ![CDATA[
// ]]></script>

<noscript>&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;a HREF=”http://ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?rt=tf_cw&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;#038;ServiceVersion=20070822&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;#038;MarketPlace=US&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;#038;ID=V20070822%2FUS%2Fwidgetsamazon-20%2F8010%2F2dfa1ade-82e2-4d12-9041-8208d7c5d46e&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;#038;Operation=NoScript”&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;Amazon.com Widgets&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;lt;/a&amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;amp;gt;</noscript></div>
</div>

 

Susan Heitler, Ph.D., is a Denver clinical psychologist who specializes in treatment of anxiety, depression, anger, narcissism, parenting challenges, and marital difficulties.
An author of multiple books, articles, audio cd’s and videos, Dr. Heitler is best known in the therapy community for having brought understandings of conflict resolution from the legal and business mediation world to the professional literature on psychotherapy.
David Decides About Thumbsucking, Dr. Heitler’s first book, has been recommended for over twenty years by children’s dentists to help young children end detrimental sucking habits.
From Conflict to Resolution, an innovative conflict-resolution theory of psychopathology and treatment, has strongly influenced the work of many therapists.
The Power of Two and The Power of Two Workbook, and also Dr. Heitler’s  website for couples called PowerOfTwoMarriage.com, teach the skills for marriage success.
In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Heitler coaches boards of directors in skills for collaboarative decision-making and, in the world of professional sports, Dr. Heitler serves as mental coach for a men’s doubles tennis team.

Education
Dr. Heitler graduated from Harvard  University in 1967, and earned her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from NYU in 1975.

Awards and Accomplishments
The editors of the master therapist video series Assessment and Treatment of Psychological Disorders selected Dr. Heitler from all the marriage and family therapists in the US to demonstrate the theory and techniques of couple treatment.  Her video from this series, The Angry Couple: Conflict Focused Treatment has become a staple in psychologist and marriage counseling training programs.
The editors of the Psychologist Desk Reference, a compendium of therapeutic interventions, selected Dr. Heitler to write the chapter onTreating High Conflict Couples. Other editors of books on counseling theory and techniques have similarly invited her to contribute chapters on her conflict resolution treatment methods.
Dr. Heitler’s 1997 book The Power of Two (New Harbinger), which clarifies the communication and conflict resolution skills that sustain healthy marriages, has been translated for publication in six foreign language editions–in China, Taiwan, Israel, Turkey, Brazil and Poland.
Dr. Heitler has been invited to present workshops on her conflict resolution methods for mediators and lawyers, psychologists, and marriage and family therapists throughout the country.  She has been a popular presenter at national professional conferences including AAMFT, APA, SmartMarriages, and SEPI and has lectured internationally in Austria, Australia, Canada, China, Israel, Lebanon, Spain, and the United Arab Emirates.
Dr. Heitler is frequently interviewed in magazines such as FitnessMen’s HealthWomen’s World, and Parenting.  Her cases have appeared often in the Ladies Home Journal column “Can This Marriage Be Saved?”  She is often interviewed by Denver TV newscasters for her perspectives on psychological aspects of current events.
In May, 2004 Dr. Heitler appeared on the CBS Early Show where anchor Harry Smith introduced her as “the most influential person in my life—my therapist.”  He encouraged his viewers similarly to seek therapy when they are emotionally distressed and pre-marital counseling when they are contemplating marriage.
Most recently, Dr. Heitler, three of her adult children and one of their friends were awarded a U.S. government Healthy Marriages Initiative grant to produce interactive games for teaching marriage communication and conflict resolution skills over the internet.  Seehttp://poweroftwomarriage.com to experience their fun, low-cost, high-impact methods of teaching the skills for a strong and loving marriage.

Personal
Dr.  Heitler and her husband of almost 40 years are proud parents of four happily married adult children and are grandparents, thus far, of a a baker’s dozen grandchildren.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

More in Relationship issues

Best Dating Sites

Categories

Must Reads

To Top