Is old still gold?

An old couple. PHOTO/COURTESY 

What you need to know:

  • A good relationship is worth more than all the rubies and diamonds in the world.

There was a time when it was generally believed that after the 25th anniversary, a marriage would be smooth sailing. Things have since changed. Recently, a friend came to me looking shell-shocked by the news of the demise of her parents’ marriage. To her, their marriage was rock solid and would weather any storm. 

Unfortunately, there came a storm in form of a sprightly widow in her late 50s that it could not withstand.  
The experience made her feel insecure about her own 25-year long marriage. If people who had been together for more than 50 years could give up, what chance did she stand? The thing is, sometimes people are hanging in there just by the skin of their teeth and they reach a point when any kind of resolution is better than trying to keep it together. 

These are some of the things that fester and eventually break down even the strongest of unions.

Unresolved conflicts

Unresolved conflicts are like making a string of beads. You start by putting one by one and eventually you have a string around your neck. In this case, each bead is an unresolved conflict; there comes a time when there is no more space and the best thing to do is let it break and start afresh. There are many reasons people limp on in relationships. 

For some, it is the hope that things will get better and for others, it is for the sake of the children. But as we know, even hope comes to an end and children grow up and leave. Without these reasons to hold the relationship together, fissures become bigger and uncontrollable.

Economic status
This is even compounded by a change in economic status of one or both partners. This sudden change sometimes comes with the couple’s living arrangements having to change. Some people can be tolerated in small doses, trust me. But if now, you must spend the whole day and night around each other, it will dig up all that salient bitterness and resentment that have accumulated over time. 

Unless these are resolved, chances of survival are very limited. The best strategy against this is for both partners to find ways to meaningfully contribute to the marriage so that the relationship is not held together by money. 

While we all know that age is nothing but a number, there are instances when it cannot be ignored. Ordinarily, a 10-year gap would actually do the relationship some good (super stars Jay Z and Beyoncé) but if the difference is more than 20 years, (media mogul Rupert Murdoch 91 and model Jerry Hall 66) there are bound to be issues. It can be rather unsettling when one partner is looking forward to old age while the other one is thinking about joining the heavenly choir; the disparity in aspirations is enough to kill even the most fervent of passions. 

Adversity such as serious illness or loss of a child can send a relationship off the cliff, especially if it has been teetering for a while. It is prudent to constantly check the state of the union to ascertain whether it is healthy and if not, do timely damage control. There is a whole movie franchise based on this premise alone; remember Why Did I Get Married and Diary of a Mad Black Woman? If you have been an abuse or intolerable partner and you are now in a wheel chair and in need of your victim, do not expect to get love and understanding. As a matter of fact, prepare for the worst.   

Lastly and most disturbing to my spirit is that nothing seems to be sacred in our modern society anymore. Vows are made to be broken and commitments change with the weather. 
The truth though is just like a good name, a good relationship is worth more than all the rubies and diamonds in the world.