Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The First 50 Are Hard

Elizabeth asked me an interesting question, but one that leaves me asking more questions. Here is what she’s asked:

“Do you think marriage is easier for someone of my generation or yours or is it all still the same?”

I find this an interesting question because I think Elizabeth is making assumptions about me (no offence given or taken) about my age & married life. And as I take a gander at her blog – I too have to make some assumptions on those same themes about her.

Elizabeth – you look like a woman in your early 30’s (please forgive me if I’m way off the mark), and based on the pictures of you and your husband I would also gather you’ve been married for roughly 10 years, give or take.

I – on the other hand, will be 48 next month (but don’t feel anywhere near that), and have only been married for 7.5 years. My husband is 2 years younger than me, and we are both late bloomers in the marriage market.

So, this is where I’m at with the initial question: Is the question – is marriage easier or harder in your 40’s moving to towards 50’s (ewww blech, don’t like the sound of that fufufuffifty…. part) vs. marriage in ones 20’s & 30’s?

Or – is marriage easier in the first 10 years, or after the first 10 years.

My gut reaction is in the form of a question: Is marriage EVER easy? I always get a kick out of people who have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, or greater and they all same the same thing – the first 50 were hard; the next 50 will be easier. My own parents lived long enough to see their 54th and didn’t hit stride until their 50th. Which, if you do the math – that makes only the last 4 sliding on easy street (and dementia did not play a part in it).

As someone who ended up waiting until she was 39 to find someone to love and marry, I spent over 20 adult years living on my own, and by my own rules. I didn’t even have roommates for the vast majority of those years. So, our 1st year of marriage was a difficult adjustment. I seriously learned the word “compromise”, and didn’t like it much. In fact I think we can both admit that the first years was the hardest, and I never want to work that hard at anything again. But I was then, and still am 100% committed to making it all work.

Of course there are things I would like to change. I suspect there always will be. Marriage changes you, it has too, it can’t not. For good or bad, it’s just the way these things unpack.

Is marriage easier in your 40’s? You’ve got to have come to know yourself by the time you reach your 40’s. If you don’t then you’ve been living under a rock, which is a whole different story.

Would I have preferred to have been married in my 20’s? Sure, but then I wouldn’t be the person I am now. The person that my husband fell in love with at 39 is not the same person he would have met twenty years previous. In fact, we’ve often joked that we probably wouldn’t have given each other second glances when we were in our twenties (or thirties for that matter).

Marriages are complex, hard, fun, exhilarating, infuriating, ever evolving, and one of the most joyful thing you ever do in your life. Does this answer your question Elizabeth?


Elizabeth A. said...

Sure does, there's no "one" answer anyway.

My question originated from watching a talk show this morning on how marriage trends have changed so dramatically.

You were on the right track with me. And absolutely no offense taken. I'm 25 and we'll be married 3 years in June. I have known him going on 12 years now. But we have a very traditional type marriage and when I read "child of the 60's" while watching the show it made me curious.

It seems I was "primed" for marriage because my mother remarried in my early teens and that was by far the hardest adjustment I've ever had to make. I mean, it really sucked. And I always had to live with roommates so learning to live with my husband even though we never dated only took a couple of months before we were comfortable with that aspect.

And I think your last statement does sum it up nicely, the ever evolving the most important. You have to change together.

Shanel said...

I am new to your blog but after reading a couple of your post... decided to follow. I am 30... married for the 2nd and last time... and if I had to do it all over again... I would have waited much longer to get married.. I don't know WHY I was in such a rush:)

Gina said...

Hi - just stumbled upon your blog, and I really like it. :)

The Bumbles said...

The key to our marriage was - as you said - finding each other at the right time. Andy and I have known each other half our lives. But if we had begun dating when we first met - I am sure I would not have appreciated the good guy that he was and that would have been the end of that. Because we began dating after I had learned the kind of person I deserved to be with, I think it made our realtionship a breeze. Being friends for many years first certainly helped us know who we were dealing with - but it is still a very different world. I firmly believe that timing is everything. That is why for some a matter of months is all it takes and for others it takes years. You just need to capture that point where you are both at the same level at the same time.

cardiogirl said...

Oy, I'm a day late and a dollar short. I thought Elizabeth was asking has society (with its changes) made marriage more difficult.

I do think, with technology as it is, there's more of a chance that a partner will stray in an unconventional way. I mean online "relationships" that are not physical. I suppose the same was true back in the '50s.

I think they called those "emotional affairs" meaning the talk is deep but there's no physical affair.

It just seems like standards have relaxed a lot these days and the challenges to stay together are greater.

I feel like I fell into my marriage. I did date a real jerk before I met my husband. I'm embarrassed to admit that I would have stayed with that jerk if he had not pushed me away. I felt like I could make things smoother/better/easier for him and that I should stay with him.

In retrospect I can see that was a strong pattern for me and I would have been divorced if I had married that guy.

My husband is completely different, basically the opposite of that guy so I really feel lucky that I met him. He did break that bad pattern for me, even though I didn't see the pattern at the time.

Elizabeth A. said...

This is why I'm addicted to blogging. We all just have so much in common.

Like Bumbles, I had known Jeff for many years and I did not appreciate what a great guy he all.

And it wasn't until I had been in a relationship very much like CG described before she married that Jeff was a really great, smart guy.

He also knew there was no real point in trying to have a relationship until I was out of college so that's why we just went ahead and got married the month after I graduated. It was time and we seized it.

Carolyn said...

I loved this entry. It made me stop and think about my life too. Aren't those the best type of entries?

I married my first husband right out of high school. We divorced 18 months later.

I did not re-marry for almost 7 years. My family had given up hope that I would ever marry again. When I told my Grama (who raised me) that I was marrying Bill, she said "Thank goodness. I thought you were just going to have lovers for the rest of your life!"

I often say that before my first marriage, I knew what I wanted in a husband. Then I discovered what I didn't want in a husband. ;o)