Recommended – if you’ve got the right woman!
I first got married at the age of 22. It’s painful for me to look at those wedding photos from 1971: I look so young, and naïve. And it’s true: my experience of life and relationship was small. No one in their early twenties can have an accurate sense of how a marriage will work out.
Let’s take a giant leap forward, to July 21, 2012, my second marriage. How is it different, getting wed in your maturing years? At 63, I feel a much deeper sense of who I am, who I want to be, and quite a good perspective on the years ahead.
For the record, my first marriage lasted 27 years, so you could say I have form for the long term. Linda and I have been together for six years, and after three years of extensively knocking or polishing corners off each other, it was clear that we wanted to continue, and settle down – an attractive idea at my age.
In 2010, we bought a house together, where we hope to live for the next twenty years, maybe to the end of our lives: an idea I have never considered in any previous house purchase.
There’s plenty of research showing that most men are happier and healthier in a relationship than single. The great majority of men beyond 50 that I know are in a long-term partnership, and the others are usually seeking one. What I’d like to explore is why get married at this stage of life? Surely it’s more flexible just to live together?
Part of the answer in my case is that Linda had never been married and she would like us to be. I try to please, so it took a real effort from me, over a couple of years, to keep my boundaries on this and say nothing until I was really clear if I wanted to get married.
I want a partnership that’s both deep and stable over the long term, and I believe there’s more depth and stability in a marriage: depth of love, of mutual support, of potential growth for both individuals. Plus spiritual depth: meaning a clearer connection to the highest good, and to the purpose of the relationship.
Even the wedding ceremony started to bring some of these qualities to us. We felt bathed in the love of our family and friends: it was so strong that it melted a lot of my terror of intimacy and openness. And we learned more about the good qualities our relationship already embodies, from the speeches, the cards, and the conversation.
I know many long-term couples who are happily unmarried, so I’m not suggesting this would suit everyone. And there are big questions about finding the right woman, and being a suitable partner. All this is covered in a long chapter in my forthcoming book, Men Beyond 50: Enjoying it Now!