How Do I Know When My Senior Relationship Is Over

Senior Dating

How Do I Know When My Senior Relationship is Over, And What Can I Do About It?

April Braswell

Written by: April Braswell

April Braswell

April Braswell is a senior dating expert, dating coach and professional dating profile writer. She leads dating, relationship and communication skills workshops throughout California.

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Edited by: Lillian Castro

Lillian Castro

Lillian Guevara-Castro brings more than 30 years of journalism experience to ensure DatingAdvice articles have been edited for overall clarity, accuracy, and reader engagement. She has worked at The Atlanta Journal and Constitution, The Gwinnett Daily News, and The Gainesville Sun covering lifestyle topics.

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If you’re in a senior relationship and you’ve hit a point where you think it’s over, you’re not alone. The divorce rate for those in their 50s is 1 in 4, according to Susan Brown, Ph.D., author of “The Gray Divorce Revolution.”

If you don’t want to be another statistic, here’s a road map to rescue your senior relationship.

Reflect on the Love You Felt When You First Got Together

First things first, reflect on the love and commitment in your relationship and decide if it’s worth saving. If you want to stay, then not only can you two recommit to making it work, but you can give your relationship new life in many ways.

You can stimulate the romance and connection in your senior relationship by bringing in new experiences, new people, and new activities.

Try to Put Your Partner Above All Others

If you and your partner are finding that you’re not getting to enjoy your relationship because you’re prioritizing other people over each other, then you need to make a change.

As a senior, it’s very easy to focus your life on your adult children, grandchildren, friends, church family, and the like. And, of course, these are all important people. However, neglecting your partner too much, and vice versa, will quickly lead you to the path of divorce.

Photo of senior couple talking

If your relationship is on the brink, it’s time to put your partner first for a while instead of your adult children and grandchildren.

Come together as a couple and discuss ways to preserve and protect your romance and privacy. Schedule a time to create a proactive romance retention plan, and then revisit the plan every few weeks. Share any feelings and frustrations you have.

For example, you may want to switch which night of the week is your date night. Or stop discussing your relationship with other people, so they won’t have the chance to interject their opinion. Or say no to one thing a week so you can spend that time with your partner.

When you take a proactive approach, it’s easier to prevent damage to your senior relationship. Once the damage is done, it’s harder to save it.

Realize That Having an Empty Nest Can Exacerbate Problems Between You Two

In your 50s and 60s, you two are truly in a new phase of life. You may be experiencing empty nest syndrome because your kids are out of the house and off to school or their first job.

You were probably used to putting all your focus on the kids. Now that it’s just you two again, all those differences the two of you have may suddenly stand out in starker contrast. Don’t let that create a wedge in your relationship.

As you fully enter your empty nest phase of life, it’s important for the two of you to come together and create a dialogue. Share and discuss what the two of you want now in your lives.

Maybe Work is Really the Root of the Issue

In your senior years, your career is usually in a time of change. That’s another area of stress and possible new reasons for conflict that have nothing to do with your actual relationship.

For example, you two may find that you’re retiring from your jobs at different times than each other. It’s commonplace that when a senior man (more so than a senior woman) retires from his long-standing career of impact, prestige, and influence only to sit at home watching TV, he goes stir-crazy. In turn, this can put a burden on his partner.

Don’t let your relationship fall prey to the potential destruction of your lives going in entirely different directions. Most retirements entail at least a 45- to 120-day advance notice. Leverage that advance time to discuss and make some plans for what you two can do together to foster the romance.

Traveling Gives You a Break From the Everyday Stressors

Maybe romantic getaways weren’t your thing when you two were younger and had divergent careers, but now that you are older and have more time together, make traveling a part of the equation.

I recommend planning frequent short trips together, so you have something to look forward to often. Maybe four or five single-week adventures around the country and one 10-day international trip every year, if you have the means.

Photo of busy airport

Traveling can do wonders for rejuvenating your relationship.

If that sounds like too much work and outside of your budget, try something as simple as attending a local festival or event every month. Even trying a new restaurant once a week will rejuvenate your relationship.

It’s important to get out of ruts, stretch, and continue to grow and expand your experiences after 50 years together.

Volunteer to Help Your Community, Expand Your Social Circle, and Create a New Bond Between You

All that expertise you two developed over the years in your jobs can benefit volunteer organizations. Volunteering gives each of you positive and constructive things to do with your time and energy.

It also provides the additional benefit of expanding your social circle. Volunteering exposes you to people of varied ages with whom you wouldn’t be spending time otherwise. All that wonderful mentoring ability you possess can be devoted to good use volunteering with others.

Another beneficial attribute of volunteering is you can each devote as much or as little time to it as you wish.

You can pursue volunteering with nonprofits in your area or with the service groups of your faith community. Volunteering fosters an outward serving of others’ views on life. When doing that, you naturally stop overly focusing on the problems and foibles of your senior relationship, lessening the thinking that it’s over.

Volunteering infuses new life into each of you and secondarily your romantic relationship. You have fresh new topics for discussion and new guests to invite to dinner as well as go out with as couples.

If You’ve Grown Apart, It Can Be Fixed

If you feel your senior relationship of many years may be over just because you’re experiencing new challenges, don’t give up on it just yet. Instead, be aware of the challenges, and make a point to approach your partner early and repeatedly, so you two can come to agreements. You can regrow your romance together if you put in some work.

Be proactive and bring newness back into the dynamics. Once you’re communicating and sharing the joy of planning adventures in your senior years, you just may find amidt the laughter that you’ve fallen in love all over again!

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