One of the joys I get from lunching with Mom at her retirement community is to hear the latest gossip about the budding romances among the residents, most of whom are well into their 70’s and 80’s. There have been more than a few marriages that result from these new relationships, most occurring after a fairly brief courtship. As one fellow remarked to me one day, “son, at our age, it’s dangerous to buy green bananas.”
If you are the adult child of an aging parent who also happens to be single (either divorced or widowed), you may one day be introduced to a “special friend” in their life. Normally, your reaction may be something like, “how cute” or “way to go Dad” but if the relationship quickly becomes more serious or if you’re suddenly asked to give your blessing to their marriage, this can be a very troubling event. In preparation for writing this article, I googled “aging parent wants to get remarried” and most of the search results were forum posts from adult children seeking advice on how to deal with Mom or Dad’s new romance that has gone from sweet to sour because now they want to get married! All sorts of questions run through your mind and you may find yourself experienceing anger, fear, or resentment at the prospect of this person interrupting Mom or Dad’s perfectly lonely existence. Somewhere in-between the extremes of “I forbid it” (like that’s gonna work) and “It’s your life, do what you want” can be found a position of legitimate care for their happiness and concern that they not be hurt by the experience. Recently a judge intervened in the marriage of a couple in their mid-nineties due to concerns expressed by the bride’s daughter questioning the marriage’s legitimacy. Click here to read the article.
In his article titled “How to Deal With an Elderly Parent’s Remarriage – Resolving Issues” author and financial advisor, Michael Lewis, gives some wise advice when talking to your aging parent about their choice to remarry late in life.
- Be Respectful. You are speaking with the one remaining person who brought you into this world and who will always love you.
- Try to Put Yourself In Your Parent’s Position. They are trying to make the best of a very difficult situation. They seek your blessing and understanding, so listen carefully and thoughtfully before making your own point or expressing your doubts.
- Avoid Accusations, Recriminations, and Ultimatums. Your parent has already experienced and worked through the guilt often associated with remarriage after the death of the spouse.
- Curb Your Instincts to Attack or Belittle Your Parent’s Choice of Mate. It is never a good idea to potentially offend your mother or father in such a petty manner.