Monday, June 3, 2019

Old Love Improving with Time (Research, Video 4:13)

Old Love

The question is asked: "Is there anything more beautiful in life than a young couple clasping hands and pure hearts in the path of marriage? Can there be anything more beautiful than young love?"

And the answer is given: "Yes, there is a more beautiful thing. It is the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together on that path. Their hands are gnarled, but still clasped; their faces are seamed, but still radiant; their hearts are physically bowed and tired, but still strong with love and devotion for each other. Yes, there is a more beautiful thing than young love. It’s old love." Unknown

Those quoted words sound wonderful, but does research support what they say about old love? This research examined age-related changes in emotional behavior in a sample of middle-aged and older long-term married couples over a 13-year period. Data were collected at 3 waves, each occurring 5 to 6 years apart. For the present study, there were 87 couples examined who participated in all 3 waves.

Couples were either in the middle-aged group (40-50 years old, married at least 15 years) or the older group (60-70 years old, married at least 35 years). At each wave, couples engaged in 15-minute unrehearsed conversations about an area of disagreement in their marriages.

And what were the results? For both husbands and wives, negative emotional behaviors (primarily belligerence, defensiveness, fear/tension, and whining) decreased. Positive emotional behaviors (primarily humor, enthusiasm, and validation) increased with age. These findings support theories suggesting that positive emotions increase and negative emotions decrease with age between husbands and wives.

In 2015, the Worldwide Marriage Encounter crowned Dale and Alice Rockey the Longest Married Couple of  the year 2015. They had been husband and wife for 81 years. The two met just after the turn of the last century. Their story and others in this video confirm there really is something very beautiful about “the spectacle of an old man and an old woman finishing their journey together.”

        Frances Shani Parker, Author
Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes is available in paperback and e-book editions in America and other countries at online and offline booksellers.

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