Every time my husband and I spot another senior couple, I can’t help but regard them with special interest, with a sense of near certainty that we somehow know them, by reason alone of the possibility that, having all lived long enough, we’re bound to have run into one another one time or another. If we hadn’t, then it’s probably time we did.
That’s why I smile at anyone more or less my age who happens to meet my eye. It’s also easier and safer now that I’m beyond flirting age.
In my younger mature years, I’d smile at pretty women I passed by, and more often than not they’d smile back. Whenever my husband would ask who that was, I’d tease him and say, “I don’t know, but I guess we recognized each other.”
We who have lived through the same era and celebrated as many milestones recognize one another as, if anything, fellow senior citizen, as such proud and grateful survivors of a long life. That—right there—is in itself a bond. We have much in common, as our own parents’ generation had theirs—them in particular, who had gone through the war.
One would think there are fewer of us older couples left; female classmates—of whom I had many, having attended different schools—as well as girlfriends in general have become widows, indeed. But there remain older couples out there whom we have known or come to know lately—in street rallies and other such gatherings toward which we older ones tend to gravitate. I cannot imagine a bond stronger than shared values and convictions to fight for, especially in these times.
Another way by which we make couple friends is our travels. Comparatively, we’re life-travelers-come-lately, but we’re only thankful to be admitted consistently into the close company of choice couples, some our age, others slightly older, and still others younger. We couldn’t have found better friends if we had handpicked them, and we look forward to their company again and again.
Why am I not surprised we share the advocacies, political and otherwise?
Being around happy couples—I have yet to meet unhappy older couples—provides us priceless insights into the dynamics of other marriages, the teamwork that makes them work. Yes, we’re still learning and improving.
Only for grownups
I think marriage is only for grownups, a stage that may or may not come with old age. The trick is to become a full adult as soon as possible, before life or the thinking process is over. It’s a pleasure to watch those who make it, caring and being consistently considerate of the other. They make marriage seem so easy.
Although in awe of first relationships lasting into our age and beyond, we find things to admire and lessons to learn as well from unoriginal relationships, of which our own, after all, is one. Nothing like exchanging stories about the difficult task of handling and coping with the sensitivities of second families—his and her children, ex-wives, ex-husbands and, in some cases, ex-boyfriends, ex-girlfriends, too. In our sharings, we all have found comfort and satisfaction in having made the best of what could have been a tragic situation.
Any relationship will require the same things—selfless love, maturity, self-worth and trust. A second relationship, in fact, can either be easier or more difficult, depending on how fast lessons are learned from mistakes.
It is humbler, and it makes for better preparation, to make reasonable, personal, albeit painful, adjustments. In our own case, having regained our independence from our first failed marriages, we have also rediscovered our own strength, our own voice, and our own self-worth.
We are, therefore, less willing to take what we don’t deserve from anyone. I have observed that rarely are there martyrs in second relationships; I guess martyrs don’t make for a happy and well-balanced relationship, not even for friendship.
Age, I’ve also realized, has made us secure and transparent in our goals and convictions, and that makes it easier and quicker for us to make good friends of new friends. That we no longer have the luxury of time is most definitely a factor, too.