Aging is a fact of life; nothing that we do or say can really change this fact. As we all get older, our health is going to change as well; hopefully good health stays with our families and loved ones as long as possible, but sometimes we just aren't that lucky, and fate deals us a different hand than we expected. What exactly are we supposed to do? How should we deal with it?
Some people deal with aging better than others. Are you someone who wants to age gracefully or are you going to put up a fight? Is having your first grey hair or losing your last hair on your head the end of the world or is it going to be a day that you remember for the rest of your life?
If you have a spouse or long-term partner, you may notice that they are growing older. We often don't notice that we are getting older ourselves. In your partner you might see it on the number of hairs in his comb; the number of pairs of pants that she can't get into; or the new wrinkle that she had whenever she smiles is now on her face all the time now, even when she isn't smiling.
I have one client who is having a disagreement on what they think is the best way to age. Take a look at their story, and tell me what you think.
Bob and Kelly
Bob and Kelly have been married for more years than Kelly would admit it. In fact, if you subtracted the years that they were married from how old Kelly claims she is, she and Bob would have gotten married when Kelly was only 12. Kelly goes to the spa every week, won't step outside the door without a hat for fear of wrinkles and wants to get cosmetic surgery to make her face and body look even younger.
Bob says that she loves Kelly for the way that she is, and that she doesn't want her to change the way she looks too drastically, especially with something that has risks involved with it and could possibly be dangerous.
What do you think about this? Have you or your friends had an experience like this, where one person in the couple wants to stay young, while the other wants to just let nature take your course? This may not just include getting plastic surgery done or spa days, but can include getting a toupee, buying a fast sports car on your 50th birthday, dating a much younger man (or woman), or just trying to hang out more with your adult children and their friends.
If you are worried about the way that you are aging, one thing that might help is the Intimacy Paradox. This paradox is something that I've been sharing with my private clients for years. The principle is pretty easy to understand, and says that if you want to have a great marriage, you need to accept yourself 100% and you need to accept your partner 100% for who they are right now. If you plan on changing yourself or your partner when you (or they) don't want to, you will end up having resentment in your relationship.
Do you think that the Intimacy Paradox would work in Bob and Kelly's relationship? Would it work in yours? 100% acceptance of yourself and your partner may seem like it is difficult to do; what do you think that the most difficult thing to accept about your partner is going to be? Is there something that you don't think that you could accept about your partner?
In this case study, another of my couples that I help out is having problems with health and aging. See if you can relate to them, and see if you have had these problems or if can envision having these problems in the future.
Sally and Marty
Sally and Marty aren't an old couple. They got married young, had children pretty early, and now are in their early 50s. Recently, their youngest child just left for college, so now it is just the two of them at home. They don't really know what to do with all of their time; before, they were always watching their children's ball games, going shopping with them, or just having others at the dinner table to help liven up the conversation.
They aren't really having a problem with anything in their marriage life, but they don't have really anything to talk about. They have never had this much time alone, and don't know what to do with the next thirty years of their life together.
If this has happened to you, what did you and your partner do that helped? Can you imagine this happening to you? What should Sally and Marty do to solve this?
One thing that can help couples in their marriage when they are having problems that are related to health and aging is to study their past. If you've watched your parents and other friends and seen how they dealt with aging, you might be able to get clues to how you will age. We all form our beliefs off of our observations that we make from the time we are young to the present day. Our beliefs can change over time, but usually we have a lot of the beliefs that our parents gave to us (either from mimicking them or from doing the exact opposite of what they did). I outline all of the different types of Marriage Blueprints that couples can have; find out which one you belong to.
Wild Things can sometimes have a problem with aging and health problems, because they are so active in their life; when they get older, they are often frustrated when life starts slowing down on them. Wild Things live life while they can, and can't wait to tell their grandchildren stories of how they did some wild things.
If you are a Blissmate, you are a lot like Wild Things, in that you want to have a lot of new experiences, but at the same time, you want to experience these things with your spouse. When one of you has to take a break at a certain activity for whatever reason, it usually sidelines the other member of the couple.
Pilgrims are really interested in something in their life, and usually put all of their passion and life into this one topic. Health and aging problems can be really frustrating for this group of people, but at the same time, Pilgrims usually get closer to their goals with age.
Like Sally and Marty, the Big Heart Family followers usually get empty nest syndrome. Family is the most important thing to these people, and when everyone moves out of the house, they are really depressed and don't know what to do with their lives.
Pioneers, who are duty bound, want to make sure that they fulfill their duty. If their partner is ill, they will want to take care of them, because of this duty. What in interesting about pioneers is that they often have a cause that they tend to serve, but they are very loyal and will drop everything for their partner.
Visionary families are also very oriented on a goal, and want to share this vision with their spouses. Visionaries often want to go to new places to further their vision, and are often very disappointed if they don't get to fulfill their dreams due to aging or health issues.
The Golden Rule Family of marriage blueprints considers fairness and equality to be number one. When they are young, the golden rulers believe that old people should be respected, and when they age, they expect to be treated well themselves.
The eighth of the Marriage Blueprints is the Royal Family. This blueprint is one that makes social status really important; with age, social status grows and then declines when you are too old to keep up your social status by getting your face out there. Aging is really hard for the Royal Family because their whole life is based on how people perceive them.
What Marriage Blueprint are you and your spouse? Do you think that the way that you view your health and aging is in synch with the way that your Marriage Blueprint does? What tips and hints do you have for getting older that have helped your marriage? What is the most difficult thing about aging, and what scares you the most?