February 14, 2003
February 14, 2003


I observed couples ages 50 to 90 years of age on a European Cruise last November. I wondered how all these couples had sustained marriages from forty to seventy years duration surrounded as they are with divorces becoming more prevalent than marriages. It occurred to me that the majority of the marriages began as the Traditional role with well defined scripts for each player; almost with the opposite expectations of roles that will make a marriage function today. However the idea that there are concrete guidelines which each party knows and follows aids the peacefulness of togetherness.

In counseling one of the methods I use is to help the individuals establish: their expectations, goals, guidelines, and boundaries with issues that are important to them. While one couple may be able to accommodate other gender friendships, another twosome would flip into another dimension over even the thought of such an alliance. Fiancees handled by the most experienced and capable person, regardless of gender creates less stress improving harmony. Today’s couples who prefer the Traditional role of the male handling major decisions irrespective of his abilities, creates rage when he is ill equipped for the job and because it jeopardizes the wife and the family’s security.

Life is so complex in the year 2002, that constant communication for the unexpected situations need continual problem solving skills. Talking creates closeness because it demands that both meet in the middle as if they had a bridge to connect their separate selves. Problem solving skills rather than attacking each other in fault finding mannerisms can work very well. Sometimes people may agree to disagree. One family of origin might be very demonstrative and the other might be cold and distant with loved ones. Accepting these differences and allowing each lifestyle to show love with a variety of ways; adds, not subtracts from the spice of life. Appreciating that one person might work constantly, while the other wants to enjoy life might help both to find a solution in-between the two opposites.

The obsessive worker might accomplish more in less time if s/he follows a schedule that includes relaxation. The more laid back person might find that productivity has its own reward and develop more self confidence. I so often hear that people stop talking to each other. The only way marriage works well is when you can honestly say that you know what your partner will do or say in every situation. That will take many hours of discussion daily. So enjoy and maybe your marriage will compete with the Senior population.