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Is Midlife Marriage Better?

Updated on April 28, 2009
Mighty Mom profile image

Mighty Mom is a keen observer of life. She shares her personal experiences and opinions in helpful and often amusing ways.

Do you have to be a hopeless romantic to find love and retie the knot in your late 40s? Some people would say yes. I say making that commitment after (in my case) two failed attempts is the ultimate act of faith -- not hopeless, but hopeful !

So how exactly is marriage at this age different from marriage in your 20s or 30s? As I see it, there are three major differences. There may be more in your relationship. I'm speaking strictly from my own experience here. And it goes without saying that these issues could just as well happen to couples remarrying in their 20s and 30s. They just seem to dominate the relationship when both parties bring as much (or more) life baggage to the relationship as they do on the honeymoon!

#1. FAMILY. A loaded subject, to be sure. I figured out somewhere between my first marriage (annulled, if you must know) and my second that when you marry someone you do not just marry him (or her). You marry their family. Look closely at how your intended interacts with his mother, father and siblings. Look at the model his parents (and siblings) set in their own marriages. Look at the people who will be your in-laws. Unless you have the luxury of putting a large geographic distance between you and them, be prepared to have them in your lives. Depending on the age and health of his parents, you may find them slowly (or quickly) becoming a DAILY part of your lives. That pretty much comes with the territory when you're midlife and the parents are 75+.

Of course no discussion of family and remarriage would be complete without ex-spouses and stepchildren. My generation grew up with the Brady Bunch. Although I always knew it was only a TV show, I held onto the fantasy that a blended family could -- just maybe -- work out that smoothly. Or maybe with just a few tiny lumps. Of course, the Bradys had Alice. I don't have a houskeeper. That must be it! Yeah, right.

Speaking again from experience, I just assumed my son would embrace my new husband with open arms. I assumed his father would act maturely about this new man in the picture, given that we had been divorced for 8 years.

I could not have been more wrong, on both counts. Friends who have done it the "right" way, with years of family blending therapy and co-parenting therapy, tell me it is possible to keep the tantrums (new spouses, exes and children) down to a dull roar. I'm just putting it out there. In our case it was more like crushing boulders in a blender with no top....

#2 MONEY. By the time you reach your 40s more than likely you have achieved some measure of financial security. Or, on the flip side, you (or he) may have achieved just the opposite. In my case, I had let my ex-husband handle the finances, although we both worked. Money was never our "issue." Then, spending several years single, I learned to manage my own finances. Not on any grand scale, but all by myself. I imagine this is not uncommon for divorced women, in particular. I don't mean to be sexist here, guys, as you will see in a minute.

Imagine my surprise -- horror, shock -- to find that my new husband is terrible with money! I just assumed that he had his financial act together because (now HERE's the sexist part) he's a male and owned his own business. On the positive side, his weakness in this area has forced me to develop my own money manager side. Yin/Yang. Spend less/save more. It's all good. An ongoing struggle, but good.

I raise this because marriage is really a financial arrangement. Putting another person's name on your lease, mortgage, credit cards, etc. can be a wonderful thing, the ultimate act of trust. Alternatively, it can really mess up your credit. Even if you don't have assets in the billions, a prenup might just be a good idea. At minimum, think about keeping some things in your own name if you're not sure. Again, I'm just suggesting here! The statitics on 2nd marriages failing are pretty staggering (I believe it's 2 out of 3). You certainly don't want to find yourself too financially strapped to be able to get divorced if it doesn't work out, do you?!

#3 If you expected SEX for #3, you're only half right. Midlife relationships are no different than any others. They typically start with attraction, move into unrestrained lust, and gradually deepen into love (with any luck, of the everlasting variety). But let's be brutally honest here. We're talking bodies that have already seen 20-30+ years of sexual action. We're talking peri-menopause, then menopause for her. We're talking whatever it is that causes men to need Viagra.

More than that, we're talking the day-to-day impact of #1 and #2 above (plus work, plus minor and sometimes even major health challenges). These things can all take a toll on your midlife sex life -- but only if you let them! So my advice on this issue is: Don't let them!!! Because a happy sex life can be apotent antidote to the stresses in the rest of your lives.

Which brings me to the second half of #3, which is ACCEPTANCE. There's a big difference between reciting your marriage vows and living them. It takes a certain maturity. Certainly you don't have to be 40+ to be mature. Plenty of couples "get it" the first time around. But if you're reading this, chances are you're a veteran of divorce, like me. Chances are you're worried about making another mistake if you take the plunge again.

The most powerful lesson I can offer from my own experience is the "A" word. Self-acceptance, spouse acceptance, family acceptance, acceptance of life as it is. Heck, if you've found someone to love YOU AS YOU ARE, that's pretty darned great, don't you think?

I know I think so about my husband. Emotional and financial baggage, in-laws and all, he's a wonderful man. And I plan to do everything possible to beat the statistical odds and stay married to him forever. For me, that acceptance is -- and continues to be -- the biggest surprise of all!


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    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Pam, you've just inspired my next hub rant about our healthcare system! And BTW, if you do tie the knot, will you invite all your hubster fans from around the globe? I don't know you well enough (yet) to be a virtual bridesmaid, but I'd be happy to help plan your cybershower (LOL)!!!

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      Sounds like we do share more than a few things in common! I'm glad to have met you here and I always look forward to your hubs and comments. If I do take the plunge with Bill I'll write a hub about it and post photos and so forth.

      What is health insurance worth? You know what? I'm not sure it's worth much at all anymore. I spent two days in the hospital in May and was left with thousands of dollars of bills even after the insurance paid, and I never did get any answers and couldn't afford to seek aftercare. I concluded that it isn't what it's cracked up to be and instead I lost some weight, dumped my high stress corporate job, and started exercising everyday. That's been working for me so far. Honestly, I think our health care system is such an expensive mess I'm better to stay away from it if at all possible. But not everyone has that option and I still worry about a catastrophe and the possible loss of my home. You can't live on worry though.

      Thanks again! And congrats on taking another chance!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Hi PGrundy, so glad you found this hub (the first one I wrote, btw). I believe you and I share many, many things in common besides our love of writing. Middle age and sobriety have a way of calming down the urge to cut-and-run and the insistence on absolute perfection in other people (but certainly not ourselves:-). What is health insurance worth? At least 2 years worth of good sex (LOL). Thanks again for stopping by. See you around the HPs!

    • profile image

      pgrundy 9 years ago

      What a great hub, thank you for sharing your own experience so openly. At 55 I've been divorced three times and live with a man who has been divorced three times. We've been together for years now, and we are very happy, but I confess I'm spooked a bit by the idea of marriage. Lately we've been thinking about taking the plunge, mostly to get me some health insurance, but wow. I think I'm more scared than he is. I tell you what, #3 was the worst. I don't think failing three times makes me a loser or a bad person, but it has made me cautious.

      Love always comes around again. Always. It takes real courage to let it in--I can tell you're a survivor and a thriver too. I'm happy for you. Thanks for the hub!

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      Thanks again, Gamergirl. This was my first hub. I am just now getting the hang of inserting photos where I want them in my hubs. Amazon capsules are a great idea, too. I'm an old dog but willing to try new tricks to be a better hubster!

    • gamergirl profile image

      Kiz 9 years ago from Antioch, TN

      Hi Mighty Mom! Maybe you could break this hub up with a picture, or an amazon capsule that has books about marriage? By breaking the text up a bit you'll make it easier to read in one sitting. :)

      ~This friendly tip brought to you by Gamergirl!

    • Research Analyst profile image

      Research Analyst 9 years ago

      Such an inspirational hub, its nice that you have let fellow hubbers learn through your experiences.