By Diana Sevanian
Signal Staff Writer
I have the greatest admiration, respect, and maybe just a smidgen of benign envy, for couples that have been together F-O-R-E-V-E-R. I’m talking about the twosomes that got it right the first time out of the gate. They intentionally stayed put in their original marriages/partnerships through all the ups, downs, and ofttimes humdrum and itchy times in between. They took, and more important, meant, vows that were binding human agreements, signed with visceral love and shatter-resistant commitment.
It’s a rare phenomenon. Given that at least half of all first marriages end in divorce, you are one lucky mortal if the mate you said “I do” to back in your youth is still playing footsies with you as you’re both filling out Medicare forms.
Depending on whether you’re betrothed 30, 40, or 50 years, you’ve been far more successful at the mating game than 65-94 percent of everyone who ever tied the knot in their heyday. You have each created and beautifully illustrated one another’s book of life history. In the least chattel-like, most precious sense, you belong to one another.
One of the bonus sweeteners of being with someone F-O-R-E-V-E-R, is that when you look at each other’s current older visage, your brain still registers the intimate sight and narrative of their younger, adorable, irreplaceable self.
You still love what you see.
The body wrinkles, but a true heart and grateful eye, never.
Being each other’s favorite human
Through decades of familiarity and devotion (and learning which battles are worth having or avoiding), you’ve meaningfully memorized one another’s touchy spots and desires. You’ve likely birthed and raised the same children, experienced the same griefs and disappointments, and celebrated the same joys. You have shared lust, laughter, pillow talk, and anti-snoring kicks within the same bed. You’ve co-mingled mortgages, meals, and remembrances. Together, you’ve toughed it out through fears and fumbles. You’ve forgiven one another many times over, because despite any differences there is no one else you’d rather disagree with. You’ve been further blessed if you have grandchildren and great-grands to re-feather your nest – the family home that has long been your safe, memory-laden haven.
As my favorite 70’s-era chanteuse-lyric guru Carly Simon once said: “It’s the stuff that dreams are made of.”
If the above descriptions fit you and your other half, I will gladly kiss your rings and sincerely wish you many more cherished years of “we-dom.” Far beyond any “benign envy,” I am in absolute awe of your select choices and unwavering loyalty.
I am also convinced that couples like you give us older solo pilots some hope and inspiration.
Many of us aging Boomers cannot claim membership to that wedded winner’s circle. Owing to death, divorce, or perhaps never even finding the one spectacularly special someone to jump the broom with, millions are single in their later years. While some prefer that quieter or “less entangled” way of living, most do not. Through Internet dating sites, personal introductions, and that rare, random kismet moment in the antacid aisle at Ralphs, unattached seniors are reaching out from their spheres of solitude and discovering new significant others.
As the Jefferson Airplane asked of us back in 1967: “(Don’t You Want) Somebody to Love?” – the answer to that question, possibly more than ever, is a resounding “Yes!” There may be snow on the mountain, but there’s still fire in that oven.
Shared joy is the best preservative
The benefits of having a loving partner later in life are abundant. Among them: Trusted and treasured companionship; increased happiness; better health and longer-range mental acuity; decreased depression and/or isolation; improved odds that you’ll live longer; enhanced personal security, and last but not least, the profound physical and emotional intimacy that only occurs with someone who genuinely, passionately, and exclusively, has your (aged) back – as well as your top, bottom, sides, lips, and even those bunioned feet.
A positive step toward finding love as a senior begins with making peace with the pieces of your life that didn’t work out. Let it go, dear unattached elder peers. Like a polished gem stone, you shine with more gratitude and mindfulness than ever before. By now you know what you want and what you don’t want. You have finally and fully embraced who you are at your core – your strengths, lovability, imperfections, past mistakes, lessons learned, and gifts to offer. You’re as ready as you’re ever going to be.
True love can bloom at any age, so don’t give up on it. And what’s even more cool now is you don’t need your parent’s approval or birth control.
Reach for that piece of rich, layered, made-for-each-other cake, and it could very well wind up on your plate. Whether Father Time grants you a small slice or a long, delicious slab, you will savor it, nurture it, and thank the heavens that you never gave up on its existence.
Diana Sevanian is a retired R.N., mother, granny, and longtime Signal columnist and features writer. While she does have a rather prominent bunion on her right foot, she tries not to bring attention to it.