Love at Any Age

Love can come at any age. Do we ‘find’ love, or does love find us? Rumi, the Sufi Mystic who lived in the 13thcentury wrote something that is still rings true: ‘Your task is not to seek for love, but to seek and find all the barrier within yourself that you have built against it.’

After a divorce or death of a spouse, or even if you have never been married, at a certain point in life, to begin a new journey is a bit scary. But when it happens it is worthy of celebration. You must set aside those barriers and be open to new things, new experiences, as Rumi advises, and know that you deserve to be loved and that you have love to give.

A beautiful couple
(photo: Garth Woods)

At the risk of sounding like a TV talk-show pseudo-psychologist, I do really believe this, because I have seen it often. I have heard many stories from couples who found love later in life. Later in life is a relative term of course. A couple I officiated for just a few weeks ago identified as finding love later in life – but they were young enough to be my children. Didn’t seem all that late to me. But I have also officiated for couples in and around their 60s.

One stumbling block for second (or third) marriage is the words we use, language carries baggage. ‘Second marriage’ may not sound good to you, especially  if it is the first one for the partner. You can just say ‘marriage,’ because if you’re getting married, that’s what it is. I’m not a fan of the term ‘remarriage.’ 

When we vow to stay together until the end, and that doesn’t happen, it can feel like failure. But there are so many good reasons to end a relationship, and often it is the right and brave thing to do.

So, if you have found love again, should you celebrate wildly? Yes, why not? It is totally worthy of celebration – but, you may not want to have the kind of wedding a couple in their twenties might plan. And if there are children involved, you have to consider their needs and their feelings as well.

A wonderful couple eloping at Harmony Gardens
(Garth Woods photography)

Louis de Bernières wrote in his book Captain Corelli’s Mandolin:
Love is a temporary madness. It erupts like an earthquake and then subsides. And when it subsides you have to make a decision. You have to work out whether your roots have become so entwined together that it is inconceivable that you should ever part. Because this is what love is. Love is not breathlessness, it is not excitement, it is not the promulgation of promises of eternal passion. That is just being “in love” which any of us can convince ourselves we are. Love itself is what is left over when being in love has burned away, and this is both an art and a fortunate accident.

I find this quote to be so very true and important. Older couples understand this, especially if in their first marriage that temporary madness burned away there was nothing left.

As we age we can become jaded. We might also become more set in our ways, and that makes it hard to open our hearts and homes to another person. And if we’re looking for the perfect partner we’re bound to be disappointed, but if we find the person who makes our life better, more joyful, then we’re on the right track. When you’re young you don’t know what’s ahead, when you’ve lived through disappointments and even tragedies, you might be more guarded.

And now for some science!

Recent research aimed to identify and examine elements of relationship success as described by younger and older adults. The top-five most highly rated elements of successful romantic relationships for the older adults were Honesty, Communication, Companionship, Respect, and Positive Attitude, whereas as the top-five most highly rated elements of romantic relationship success for younger adults were Love, Communication, Trust, Attraction and Compatibility.  Not so different but different enough.

Love is also chemistry, because it releases dopamine – that wonderful chemical in your body that makes everything just ‘more!’ It increases emotions and sexual desire.

And finally, not everyone needs to be partnered up. There is a lot of social pressure to have a mate. I wish that was not the case. Going to weddings and seeing all your friends getting married can be downright depressing if you haven’t found that special someone. There are many benefits to being single, but there is also no doubt that falling in love is exhilarating and that married people live longer.

Love at Any AgeJoseph Campbell wrote: Successful marriage is leading innovative lives together, being open, non-programmed. It’s a free fall: how you handle each new thing as it comes along. As a drop of oil on the sea, you must float, using intellect and compassion to ride the waves…. What I see in marriage, then, is a real identification with that other person as your responsibility, and as the one whom you love. 

To that I will add: at any age.

find me on facebook – Lois Heckman, Celebrant, and Instagram – Lois HeckmanImage

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