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What mature couples say about happy marriages

Tags: older couples, elderly, marriage

Finding someone to love and stay with for the rest of your life is something many of us aspire to.

Here, couples who have been married for 30 years or more talk about their relationships:

‘I can’t imagine not having him there. And this doesn’t mean that we do everything together… I would drive him crazy and he would drive me crazy. But we always know the other one is there and that we have this relationship and that makes us both very content… We’re very different. We’re not different in what we like in life. We’re very, very close in what we like in life.’

Catherine, married 60 years

‘I want it to stay like it is. Period. It can't get better.’

Jim, married 50 years

‘Really just being together. Share each other's lives and our children's lives. Snuggle on cold nights.’

Charles, married 30 years

‘There's a physical relationship, if not quite what it was when we were young. But the main thing is: I adore him. More than I ever did. We laugh a lot. We laugh at ourselves…You can't take yourself too seriously… I don't know how we got here, but it's wonderful. We hold each other loosely.’

Julia, married 50 years


Case studies taken from Professor George E. Vaillant's  Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study, a book containing interviews with the men (and their wives) who participated in The Study of Adult Development at Harvard University.

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  • User-anonymous oldalaskan Flag

    To Jay-
    I followed the suggestion to post to the forum, to the best that I understand how to do it. It set up a link identified below, but as you will see, there haven't been many new comments.

    Sat 23, Jan 2016 at 7:16pm
  • User-anonymous stelboy Flag

    To Jay
    As you can see I've not been on this site for a long time. Can you please tell me how to access the forum that you've mentioned.

    Tue 5, Jan 2016 at 11:01am
  • User-anonymous Jay Flag

    To the last poster...why not post this on the forum where you are likely to get more responses. It is such a painful situation to be may get some ideas for a way forward.

    Mon 4, Jan 2016 at 6:37pm
  • User-anonymous oldalaskan Flag

    My wife and I are both 65 and haven't had sex for 5 years. She had been avoiding it and making all kinds of excuses for over 10 years before that. Prior to that we had about 20 yrs of doing it like rabbits. She has NEVER been willing to talk about sex. When I tried to get us to work through our issues, nothing but anger. For the last several years before stopping, every once in awhile she would suddenly jump on me and want to do it, but there was no affection before or after. And, she had to be in absolute control of the whole process. It was emasculating. In order to preseve what little self respect I had left after all that rejection, I said no more. It was like flipping a switch. Once she could blame me for ending our sex life, she was happier than she had been in the previous 10 years. And she expects me to be happy with this!. I made some comment about missing sex when watching a show and she said sarcastically, "haven't you grown out of that yet". My religious beliefs (and fear of STDs) makes paying for it out of the question. It's too late to start over, and can't afford it anyway. But I have died inside. I've tried to not be selfish and be angry, and just accept that she has changed and respect that. I don't think anyone is "entitled" to anything from another person, but OHHH how I miss intimacy of any kind. I would be less lonely if single. I've heard it said that grieving the death of a loved one is easier than grieving the abandonment by a partner because the latter is never final. Oh how true. There is just no way I can put this into a perspective that enable healing. I am grateful for blogs like this which allow some discussion.

    Mon 4, Jan 2016 at 2:25am
  • User-anonymous stelboy Flag

    What's wrong with this site? 8 copies of a post about Dr. Lawrence and more than 8 messages about it in my email inbox!

    Tue 2, Sep 2014 at 6:36am
  • User-anonymous stelboy Flag

    Yesterday I had a nice sensual Thai massage with HE. Why can't my wife give me pleasure like this?

    Thu 21, Aug 2014 at 8:02am
  • User-anonymous stelboy Flag

    Thank you for your reply Anonymous (I wish you had given yourself a name and gender). I'm guessing you are one of the moderators, not an ordinary member like me.
    I assure you that this problem has existed for many years and I have tried to be understanding and patient. I feel that me paying for sex has actually saved our marriage because I'm satisfying my natural desire for intimacy while not pressurizing my wife. It has avoided us divorcing.

    Tue 19, Aug 2014 at 2:07pm
  • User-anonymous Anonymous Flag

    In any loving relationship sex and attraction play a big part and are often the foundations from which all other aspects of the relationship evolve, so taking this out of the equation, when one of you still wants it, is going to cause problems even in a relationship as established as your one. I think you need to discuss with your wife why she doesn't want the foreplay, as you're right, that's something most women enjoy. Does she realize how important sex is to you in terms of cementing your relationship as man and wife? Maybe try a compromise where you have a shorter amount of foreplay before the penetration. Hopefully she'll relax and get into it and then you can go on for a bit longer. I'd really explore all options with her before paying for it.

    Tue 19, Aug 2014 at 12:06pm
  • User-anonymous stelboy Flag

    This summarizes my marriage but I'm afraid I miss the sex whereas my wife doesn't. We have been married for 30 years. I'm 20 years older. We have all the positive aspects such as loving and caring for each other, 2 great kids, we're always kissing and cuddling, sleeping in each other's arms, going on country walks, going to concerts, I'm always telling her how beautiful she is.
    I've had prostate cancer and it looks as if I'm cured. The treatment is supposed to have lowered my libido but I still want sex and orgasms. We recently had a heart to heart talk about our lack of sex. I didn't realise that the hysterectomy (leaving one ovary) she had 7 years ago was still affecting her emotionally. I know that her work is stressful and other things that have happened such as bereavements. She didn't realise that without sex I feel rejected and not fully loved. I have tried to explain that there are lots of ways we can give each other pleasure without penetration but she doesn't want to know. It's almost a year since we made love and her preferred way of making love is not mine. She wants minimal foreplay and to get onto penetration. I like to spend a long time kissing, licking, stroking a woman's body all over, giving her oral till she climaxes and her doing the same to me. My solution I'm afraid is to pay for this but I'd much prefer to be doing it with my wife. A lot of women from what I've read on here and in magazines want this slow, tender approach and complain about the wham bang style that their partners go for. I agree with my wife when she tells me that marriage isn't just about sex but in my opinion without it the relationship is reduced to that of brother and sister or very close companions. She saw her lady GP recently about her stress and mentioned that we'd had a little talk. She is shortly going to have counselling so maybe things will improve.

    Thu 14, Aug 2014 at 2:27pm