Your child-rearing and career-building years are some of the busiest you’ll spend as a couple.
Now you’re at a point when the kids have moved out, are off at college or university and are starting their own adult lives, or maybe you’ve started considering the prospect of retirement.
Your 50s and 60s can provide different challenges individually and as a couple, says Dr. Ellie Bolgar, a Couples and Family Therapist in Langley. The routines of raising a family and working on a career are gone or have changed. But the relationship routines – often marked by infrequent deep connections, and a lack of communication of personal needs, desires and fears – can remain.
In recent years the divorce rate has increased for couples in that age range and “uncoupling” has become more accepted. “As much as we want routine and security in our relationship and family life, predictability takes away the excitement and passion that initially presented in the relationship, leaving couples searching for meaning at this stage of their lives” she says.
Find help rediscovering yourself, your relationship
The 50s and 60s are called the age of “second adolescence,” Dr. Bolgar says. “Looking for new experiences – focusing on the self – parallels in some ways what teenagers experience. People gain awareness of their emotions and develop a more liberated attitude towards new experiences.”
When people have accomplished everything they set out for themselves, they can feel lost and uncertain about their next identity, and their search for purpose about the future is heightened. The “second adolescence” is a reminder that finding what fits at this stage is just as important as when we were teenagers. Relationships are all about connection, Dr. Bolgar notes. When it’s missing, people are hurting and feel angry.
It takes courage to seek help and find answers to questions. “When couples go to relationship counselling they learn about their and their partner’s needs, they learn to rediscover themselves and reconnect,” she says.
Learn to switch your focus in middle age
Rather than viewing your 50s and 60s as a time of emotional crisis, Dr. Bolgar can help you see it more as an exciting “second adolescence,” where you appreciate how short life is, yet both feel young enough to enjoy the time you have left.
“People still have things to accomplish. Unlike years ago, they’re not content to stay home, cut the grass, look after the grandchildren and be retired. We are more energetic and active. The meaning of relationship is an important topic to explore at this time.”
Fellow professionals available to help
As of March 1, Dr. Bolgar will be working with four other experienced counsellors who can help you: