I see them regularly in our local newspaper: photos of elderly couples who have been married for fifty or even sixty years. Both in Sunday clothes, the corsage on the chest, and next to him the mayor, with a solemn collar, who comes to congratulate them on this happy event. These are letters that elevate all the stories about terrible divorces.
In the text accompanying the photos of old spouses, the journalist always describes how they met long ago in a choir community, an ice rink, an exhibition, or in a church. A question a couple is always asked about is how they survived together for so long, they often say that time has passed and they are still as in love as they once were.
Infatuation is an unconscious process that takes about a year.
With apologies to the jubilees involved, but I don’t believe the latter. And in this, I’m right from neuroscientist and writer Dick Swab (71 and 49), who describes falling in love “a subconscious process that lasts about a year.” “During that time, stress hormones (cortisol) are volatilized, which depresses the cortex and so you can’t think reasonably for a year.”
The article continues after the announcement
But that infatuation will go away, he says, which is a good thing, because otherwise it would make little sense out of people. “It is bullshit that old people will still be in love after forty or fifty years of marriage. If all goes well, they feel a bond and that is really very nice. Because evolution has never taken into account that people, when children are adults, will live Another thirty years or more and they stay together. In the past, people were no more than 35 years old, so long marriages never took place.”
So many were separated, but so much remained together
This is different nowadays, now that people are getting older and the Netherlands has more than 2,000 centenarians. Long-term marriages are no exception, although you might get that impression from all the media attention about the divorce and its consequences. It is true that in our country about 35,000 couples are divorced every year, after an average marriage of about fifteen years, but at the same time about 64,000 spouses marry. As many as 59,000 couples have been married for more than 25 years, 64,000 over forty years, 44,000 over fifty years and nearly 10,000 over sixty years. Then there are the 170 couples who have lived together for seventy years or more.
Luck or hard work?
In her book Long and Happy, which health scientist Pauline Temer (27, married for a year and a half) interviews hundreds of couples, it carries a chapter titled: “How to Stay in Love for Life?” Especially attracted to readers inclined to romance, because in real life it is impossible.
“It’s more connection, being one together”
Timmer also writes: “It would be unhealthy to be in love with life, apart from being impractical. Fortunately for us, this obsessive crush ends about six months to two years after it begins.” One of the women interviewed says in her book, “After 53 years together, when I sometimes unexpectedly see him standing or walking, I still feel the love, very differently than before, even deeper. It’s more of a connection, that you are one together.”
A long-term relationship doesn’t go well on its own. “If infatuation turns into love and stays that way, you’re in luck,” says psychiatrist Carla Ross (62, 33 with her husband). “But it’s not just luck, you have to work hard for it sometimes. This is called staying invested in the relationship.”
But what does this mean? With the person you have to resist so as not to let the relationship slip through your fingers, so keep talking, with someone else who has to keep his or her mouth a lot. Usually you have to accept the other as he is, but sometimes you can ask your partner to change behavior for your own good and it has to be reciprocal.
Having a degree of self-reflection helps in a long-term relationship
You cannot and should not expect a change in the character of your husband or wife, but it can be slightly improved. This requires that partners have a certain degree of self-reflection and dare to look at themselves honestly. If people stay together out of habit or fear of loneliness, that can be a bad thing, but it can also be good.
Bad, because this means that they deprive themselves of adventure, but sometimes also good, because changing relationships is a lot of trouble. In peaceful relationships, a person is often more productive and creative in the outside world. Kids can act like glue in a relationship. Perhaps that can be considered oppressive, but here again: it can also be good, because with children you have something very basic together.”
Then there’s another thing: the importance of shared history. Carla Ross: “If you have been together for a long time, often half a word is enough to understand each other. I do not understand anything about men who suddenly appear with a woman thirty years younger. Do you understand such a woman how and why he became, who he is? Well, he would be Sex definitely works for a while, but if that fades after a year or so, what’s left? What are you talking about on the table? She doesn’t know his music, she doesn’t know who Marilyn Monroe was or Job den Oil or if there was a Berlin Wall. So it’s hard to talk.”
‘We got married early are the people who divorce after a few years for the reason: we broke up’
Furthermore, Carla Ross does not support early marriage. “Young people have to experiment for a while until they find the partner that suits them best. You still have to mature in your youth, as your needs can change drastically. Those who married early are the people who divorce after a few years for this reason: we broke up, which is what happened. Already “.
I asked my husband (with me for almost fifty years) what he thinks is a good recipe for a long relationship? “Independence and giving each other a life of their own. And never complain about emptying the dishwasher incorrectly or folding clean laundry.”
Old shoes work better.
Emma (51, yoga teacher) and Rutger (53, lawyer) have known each other since the seventh grade of high school. Emma: “I was stunned when we got together in fourth grade. He stayed where he was once, and that’s why. Then I followed him a lot for a year, and then he went on and he never came out. We went to keep it together? We always kept doing our own thing. We studied in another city, And they both did some rehearsals abroad and both continue to work to this day. After more than thirty years and four kids, we still have fun together. We stay close to each other and have become so close that we’ve become each other’s perfect partner. To be fair, We’re not great adventurers and we’re not looking for excitement, new love, or disguised drama. My motto is: New shoes are nicer but old ones are better. So you have to be careful with that, clean them often and restore them on time.”
“The dog saved our marriage”
Els Sterringa-de Haas (72, former secretary) and Jelle Sterringa (74, former director of the Road Construction Company) were married on December 30, 1964. They have known each other for three years. My parents, who have been married for more than sixty years, were progressive, but not in favor of living together without marriage, so it turned out to be marriage, but only after I finished my education at Schoevers, because that was very important to me. they.
Meanwhile, Gill had finished his military service in HTS. At that time she worked as an executive secretary at the research agency NIPO and Jelle in the municipality of Amsterdam. A bad period started when I had one miscarriage after another. In the end we adopted two sons, one from Suriname and the other from Holland.
Then I left my job, because you do not move heaven and earth to allow you to adopt a child, and then you put that child into foster care. In my 40’s, I’ve become too quiet and too empty for me, jobless. My generation worked hard, and was often abroad, so I was often alone with the children.
Around my forties, this was feeling: Is that all there is to it? Did I skip something, and if so, what was it? The fact that I couldn’t have children made me feel like a failure for a long time. Besides, I was also a bad housewife so my self esteem wasn’t very high at that time.
When I was able to return to work as a secretary, I immediately felt much better. We’ve had a tough time around our retirement. My generation came home from day to day at 65, from a guy who was out of the house becoming a potato, meddling in everything. I did not like it at all, because now I am used to a free life, with friends and my own activities.
An acquaintance advised us: get a dog. A great solution, because this dog really belongs to Jelle. We now have two, he walks four times a day, which all his canine friends give him. He now knows exactly what is happening in our area. We do a lot together, like babysitting the grandchildren, but also a lot on our own. I always say: you have to set each other free, but also be together. And to be fair, the dog saved our marriage.”
Image (c) Getty Images, Paulien Timmer, Happy Ever After, Prometeus Publishers
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