It’s possible to have a joyous and fulfilling marriage after 40. Addressing the unique challenges you and your mate might face is the key to having a successful marriage and a lifetime of happiness.
If you have lived alone for the majority of your adulthood, sharing space may now become a primary issue. It may take time to get used to seeing someone sitting in your favorite chair, or having the television on at odd hours during the day. In the personal account, “What I Learned Marrying for the First Time Over Age 40,” author Suzanne Henry recommends “concentrating on those moments when sharing your space is a benefit.” Focusing on having a partner with whom to enjoy physical, emotional and mental activities can help alleviate pangs of discomfort.
Additionally, discussing these differences and sharing your preferences can help foster a congenial atmosphere for both you and your partner. If you choose to stay quiet on these matters, resentment may build and that can foster conflict.
Learn to Compromise
Learning to compromise is work at any age and in any relationship, but because you have lived the majority of your adult life as an independent soul, deciding what to do and where to put things has been a solo venture up until this phase in your life. Now you will have to grapple with another individual who is every bit as sure-footed and capable as you are.
Compromise will be necessary for things to work smoothly. You and your partner should discuss your preferences for who should complete which tasks. For example, which one of you wants to do the grocery shopping? Who prefers to pay the bills? Do the two of you prefer to perform these tasks as a team? Discussing these topics will alleviate assumptions that might otherwise lead to conflict.
If you or your partner has children, you may need to blend your families. HelpGuide.org recommends that you "focus on respect, help the children feel heard and emotionally connected,” and that you “set boundaries and limits.” Discuss the rearing and discipline of your children as well. All children are different, so let them set the pace and guide you and your partner on where they are emotionally and on whether or not they need additional time and comfort to adjust to their new situation.
Keys to a Successful Marriage
No matter your age, nor the length of the marriage, certain characteristics help a marriage stay together. Sharon J. Leigh and Janet A. Clark, in “Creating a Strong and Satisfying Marriage," cite positivity, empathy, commitment and acceptance as some of the key characteristics in a happy marriage.
Increasing the positive thoughts you have toward your spouse, while keeping criticism and negativity to a minimum, has a positive effect on both partners. Likewise, expressing empathy (understanding the other person’s point of view and feelings) helps spouses feel a greater sense of connection, while accepting your partner and valuing his or her input promotes a greater sense of security and confidence in your partnership. Showing value and respect toward each other greatly increases the odds of having a successful marriage, regardless of age.