Monday, July 9, 2012

On Marriage and Singlehood-In Retirement or Any Other Time

This past weekend I traveled to Houston for a family wedding. My brother in law (in his fifties) was getting married for the first time. This was the first wedding for the bride to be as well (also a boomer). The weekend consisted of getting together with family. We attended the rehearsal and the lunch following. The bride and groom had an event where all friends and family (who traveled from Texas, New Jersey, Florida and Washington to mention a few places) could meet each other. The wedding was  large affair with all the traditional elements.

Attending this wedding brought two things home with me, that I think are worth mentioning in current culture.  First, prior to their engagement, both of these couples were single-and happily single I might ad-for a very long time.  They had family, friends, and active social lives.  Their lives were not missing anything (or "less" if you will), just because they were single. The wedding was full of friends and family who talked about skiing, traveling, playing tennis, and doing a million other things with one party of the other. Their meeting and subsequent wedding is a joyous occasion (they knew each other for eight years).  If they had never met (or decided not to marry) their lives would still have been filled with joy and friendship.  Although it sometimes seems from popular culture that we live in a world of couples, that is simply not true.  Between forty and fifty percent of adult Americans are single-many single by choice, and many never married.

At the same time, it's worth noting that late marriages can happen, and in fact do happen. My sister in law is fifty, and just married in 2007 for the very first time. I have a brother who was happily single (and would have told you that he was never getting married-ever) and married at age 48 and now has two children (in his case, his wife is younger), a toddler and a baby.  All of these folks moved from happily single to happily married-at a time when they expected neither to happen.

No matter what your relationship status, you can have an extremely full life.  While marriage is a lovely institution (and one I was part of for many years), it is not the only way to live life nor is it the only way to be happy.  This is true in retirement as well. Do singles have some challenges later in life? Of course. But so do married folks, as many bloggers have observed. We all have unique challenges.

Life can be good, no matter where you are, or how you live.

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