May is National Date Your Mate Month, and a 2017 report shows that nearly 20 million U.S. residents age 65 and older are unmarried. For anyone in that group of singles who is thinking about recommitting to the dating game, here are a few things to think about both with your partner and your adult children (who can then explain to the grandkids).
Finding love later in life is a great thing. Does it always mean marriage? Not necessarily, but it certainly can. It will all depend on the individual senior and his or her circumstances, especially since there is a lot more to your story after years of experiences, growing families and past relationships. A lot of pieces are at play here, and a new relationship started later in life should be handled with care not only for yourself and that special someone but also for all of your loved ones involved.
Make sure to weigh the pros and cons of dating later in life to decide which form of commitment works best for you: living together or remarrying.
Dating and marriage now are certainly different than dating and marriage in your youth. For one, you’re coming into the picture with more to talk about and maybe even more to work through. You’re also joining the dating world in a time where technology leads the way - even for dating. Here are a few tips for meeting someone and entering a relationship in your later years.
It’s common for adult children to react one of two ways to their senior parents possibly remarrying: either really happy or really afraid and disgruntled. When adult children respond negatively to their parent’s new partner, it could be coming from grief in having lost the other parent. To begin with, it’s certainly not easy for a widowed senior to overcome the feelings of disloyalty to their deceased spouse. It makes it much harder when the kids and/or grandkids are also not on board.
When speaking to your adult children about this new chapter, empathize with them and then emphasize that this person will be helping take care of you, that you are truly happy about getting this new chance. Also, make sure they know how much you also cared for the beloved deceased or former spouse, as they are always interlinked to your lives. Make it clear to your kids that no one could ever influence your love for them and how you treat them. Nothing is changing except a new addition to the family, whether through marriage or just companionship.
If your children still do not accept this new change, there is only so much you can do. Remember that your life is still your life and that you deserve to continue it however you please, especially if you long for something as natural to human nature as love and companionship. Approaching the conversation with empathy and understanding is the best thing you can do for your kids undergoing this change with you.
Change isn’t easy. Watching your senior parents, who have been married for a long time, suddenly not be married or undergo losing a mother or father is incredibly difficult. On top of that, watching your senior loved one move on and find someone new may come with mixed emotions, ones that are unrecognizable and therefore hard to cope with.
You may be concerned about their emotions, the risk of a new relationship ending, or even financial things like their savings and even your inheritance. When parents remarry later in life, it could come with other change, like moving into senior living, changing locations and being less available. But, it’s important to remember that, while all of this is hard, they are still your parent, and they’re people. Still, it’s not easy, and your parents should understand that this process is not going to be as natural as it once was. Here’s how to approach them and your kids (their grandkids), as they will experience some trickle-down change, too.
The most important approach to discussing this new chapter for your parents is to not jump to conclusions or judge too harshly. This is a vulnerable time for them, as it is for you. Go into this planning to express your joys and concerns while also calling to mind some of the positives that could come from this: a full-time best friend, more income, emotional support, and someone to help monitor your parent’s health. Imagine the possibilities, while also making sure they know all you want is for them to be safe and in a healthy relationship situation.
Guilt and/or fear are already emotions your parent likely feels. Try to better understand what they like or love about this new person. Then, you can draw your conclusions as you get to know them.
There’s a new grandparent around. How do you explain that to your kids? Approach it as if this new senior is a very reliable family friend and use positive, uplifting language. Most importantly, focus on the loving aspect - that this new person “loves your grandma or grandpa, and they will love you, too.”
More than just this verbal introduction to the new grandparent, it’s really going to be about spending time with them, slowly but surely bringing them into the fold and becoming more familiar with the grandkids. It’s all about creating new traditions for your grandkids to rely on and look forward to, in association with this new member of the family. Kids are adaptable. Just be gentle and positive along the way.
In reality, everyone is adaptable, and any change must be handled gently and positively along the way. Whether you’re a senior who chooses to remarry or not, make sure love is at the center of all that you do and that you’re approaching this new chapter with optimism and a healthy mindset.
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