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Friday, June 13th, 2008

Mature relationships

(Originally posted in Swampy’s Weblog)

My wife and I have separated. I call her my wife even though we’ve never formally married. We’ve known each other since 1983 when we were both struggling students here at Simon Fraser. In that near-quarter century we have been friends, lovers, partners and coolly polite. Lather, rinse and bloody repeat. Our latest try at living together lasted about 5 years and we are now on hiatus.

Our split this time has been mostly amicable. Most of our previous ones were as well, truth be told. We’re both counting our blessings for this. Some dear friends of ours are going through a break-up of their own and it has been much more painful than ours. Other couples we know aren’t really getting along any more, but haven’t gotten to the stage where either one wants to pull the pin. So, there’s a lot of it going around.

I thought it a good idea to blog about my progress in the process, and perhaps share some of my ideas about what is going on because there are some things that aren’t being recognized in the talk that is taking place around mature relationships. It just seems to me that there are going to be more and more of us in this particular boat and so, some new understandings may be necessary.

So, common threads:

  1. Older couple. Man around 60, woman five to ten years younger.
  2. Middle to upper middle class, wage-wise at least.
  3. Kids grown or just leaving the nest.
  4. Long standing relationships, usually 20 plus years.
  5. The lady is the one who calls the game.

I should amplify point five. Not trying to say it is the woman’s fault, just that she is the first to reach the breaking point. Men seem to be more willing to continue in a somewhat moribund relationship than women are at this stage. It could be something to do with age. Women in these pairs are generally younger, so perhaps there’s more pressure to grab some happiness while there’s still time.

Another factor in there could be menopause. Marilyn and I watched a very good show on the Discovery Channel about menopause, and, one of the things they said was that there is a tremendous internal drive to finally accomplish some of the things that they always wanted to do but had suppressed due to larger responsibilities.

That pretty well wraps up my intro to this theme. It is certainly what I’ll be talking about for the foreseeable future and hopefully I will be posting a lot more frequently because the juices are really flowing. If, perchance there are any readers out there I hope you’ll comment and we can get some good discussions going.

The last thing I would like to say is that I don’t think these break-ups are necessarily bad things. There is probably a lot of good to be gained through these reorganizations. Some people will stay separated and be better off for it. Others (including us, I hope) will reinvent the relationships and get back together on new, better and more fulfilling terms. The main thing is to seek out the opportunities and starve the problems. Or, as somebody once said: You gotta watch the donut, not the hole.

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Category: Relationships
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