DeMarko Coleman and Teresa Wright connect over a bagel sandwich. Photos by Keith Borgmeyer The unlikely friendship between DeMarko Coleman and Teresa Wright started...
Again- adverb a- ‘gen, – ‘gin, -‘gan
For another time : one more time
By Nellie Symm Gruender
When Gene and I met, he was 47, and I was 42. We weren’t geriatrics, but we weren’t college kids either. We both brought children to the relationship; Gene’s were grown and on their own, but my son, Zach, was only 7. We also brought the experience and, yes, the baggage from previous relationships.
Statistically, we were more likely to remain together at this older age than if we met when we were younger. According to a study completed by the Department of Health and Human Services, the divorce rate drops to 36 percent for those married at age 20 or older. Gene and I were both comfortable in our careers, had a wide range of friends and a good idea of what we wanted in a new partner. So what were the pitfalls we, and others, faced when finding love again after a divorce or the death of our mate?
Age: Love can happen at any age, but what happens when there is more than a 10-year age difference between partners? Some people emotionally and physically simply don’t fit into their chronological age bracket and relate with a far younger (or older) generation. It can also be said that differences in age allow each person to learn from the other’s life experiences. Shared interests and values are the common denominator required for success. It’s important that both people have a realistic understanding that as time progresses, there might be a wider disparity in life stages, goals and interest in intimacy.
In America, the percentage of relationships with the male partner being 10 to 14 years older is 4.8 percent, while the female being older is only 1 percent, according to the Current Population Survey conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau.
Blending families and friends: Alienation, acting out and divided loyalties can occur when a new relationship is introduced, depending on the age of the children. Statistically, the lack of attention and understanding of the children’s emotions is the greatest pitfall for remarriage and has a much higher effect on the child than the age of the child. However, adult children can show the same level of alienation as those who are in the home on a daily basis.
Sharing friends can be almost as tricky as sharing children with all the same possibilities of alienation. There are often feelings that disloyalty has occurred and the desire to disrupt the romance developing. Although some friends will be supportive and happy that you are happy, not all friends will fit into the culture of the new relationship. It’s important that there is open discussion about how to handle the friends who become a divisive or a toxic part of the blend.
According to The Bonded Family, 68 percent of remarriages involve children from previous marriage and 70 percent or more of those remarriages end in dissolution within five and a half years.
Blending finances: This can be one of the trickiest and biggest deal breakers of all. It becomes even more difficult when there is not parity in earning, assets or agreement in spending habits. Honest conversations about joining checking and savings accounts and how the financial responsibilities will be divided has to occur for there to be a smooth transition.
Disputes about finances contribute to divorce in 39 percent of marriages, according to a study conducted by North Carolina State University.
Navigating around all of these pitfalls is doable but not always easy. First, blending is a slow process that will require time, excellent communication and the ability to be flexible and understanding. Don’t include your kids in a revolving door of relationships. Only introduce serious love interests. Allow relationships to be created not demanded. Understand that depending on the child’s age, the new partner cannot walk in and immediately be seen as an authority figure. Respect and relationships have to be earned and created.
Be willing to separate from friends who might cause problems in the relationship because of their allegiance to your former partner or their own personal agendas. Discuss with your new partner the future relationship with difficult friends. Will it be a no go, or will it be a relationship that will be separate from events with your new partner?
Finances must be a serious sit-down conversation. Firm understanding and boundaries need to be determined about how your new finance structure will look and function. Put it in writing, agree to revisit the term periodically and be sure financial goals are set and agreed upon.
New love is possible, it’s desirable and it can be very rewarding. Gene and I will be celebrating 20 years of love, commitment and marriage this year. We’ve had to deal with each of the pitfalls; some we handled well, and some we struggled with. In the end, we met, blended and overcame the odds to love again.