People who find each other in their fifties and beyond, frequently do so out of motivation and desire to live the remainder of their lives with another. As part of my work with my Sacred Aging project, we often get involved in discussions regarding Boomers who, as a result of divorce or spousal death, find themselves entering into new romantic relationships.As many of us know, the dynamics of these relationships are quite different than the first time around.
People who find each other in their fifties and beyond, frequently do so out of motivation and desire to live the remainder of their lives with another. The need for human companionship, connection, love and the longing to have a shared life with another individual is a powerful need. And most know that this is a different type of love.
There are several challenges that are presented in these cases. Clergy who are asked to perform weddings realize that these types of unions require a different type of pre-marital counseling. These challenges may include convincing the couple that pre-marital counseling is needed even though they have had a lifetime of experiences.
The adult children of each partner can often complicate matters as well. This is the time where there should be open discussions regarding how money will be handled and if the financial plans in place will have a direct impact on the adult children of each partner. Often, we have adult children where established financial plans are in place, not just for the adult children but grandchildren as well. With many clergy who have been involved in these types marriages will confirm that it is not uncommon for the adult children to pose more of a challenge to these unions than any other issue.
Yes, there are differing dynamics involved in cases of divorce and death, and attention needs to be paid to these circumstances. Other trends that have been noted not just myself but by my fellow clergy is where couples choose to be together, preferring not to formalize the union via marriage. And yet, the realization and acknowledgment of the need to be with someone and sharing a life with another remains constant.
It may be that the partners feel that the mere fact of having found each other is enough and the legal or family issues lend themselves to avoiding a traditional marriage ceremony and Clergyman have published rituals for such unions. One of the challenges of these arrangements is that in cases of illness– since the new partner who is not legally a husband or wife– a partner may not be given access to the necessary medical records or even be the first line of communication.
I am familiar with long term non-marriage unions where such a serious illness motivated the people to get married in order to function within the healthcare system. So what does this mean? We are seeing changes in the way people connect and choose to be together. With longer life spans, people wish to be with someone who they can share a life.
No one wants to be alone, and at times, this desire can be the strongest motivator to seeking out and creating new relationships.
Contributed By: Rabbi Richard F Address, D. Min Jewish Sacred Aging