Thursday, June 5, 2014
Friends with Benefits?
I recently posted on two weddings that I went to, one with a older couple and one with a young couple. This got me to thinking why get married. I have been married for over 44 years and I understand the benefits of marriage as we age, but for those who are single why get married. While one of tthe most traditional reason to get married over 50, or at any age, is still the best: love.
Couples who live together outside marriage no longer face the societal pressures and judgments they once did, and there are certainly compelling reasons for people over 50 to remain single, yet many older couples still choose to marry. Some reasons for staying single is the idea of Friends with Benefits, which many people I know are into. I did some research into this idea and found that both men and women were more committed to the friendship than to the sexual aspect of the relationship.
According to one study, more than sixty percent of men (63.7%) and slightly more than half (50.2%) of women reported experience in a friends with benefits relationship. As one might guess, the men enjoyed the benefits more than the friendship, but the women sought the friendship more than the benefits, although these are generalizations.
A new study confirmed those findings, with the caveat that men actually do value the friendship over the benefits - although they tend to enter into the arrangement for the benefits part, while women seek the emotional connection aspect.
The best news, is that a 2011 Relationships Australia survey found that baby boomers are the least lonely generation (Gen Ys are the most). An RSVP survey last year concurred, revealing that over-50s are the age group most content with being single.
Clearly those are the extremes and there's every experience in between, but the fact is that there are a lot of long married, recently single people out there. In its recent report Working Out Relationships, the Australian Institute of Family Studies revealed that in 2011, 28 per cent of marriages ended in divorce after 20 or more years - up from 20 per cent in 1980. The median age at divorce has also increased, from 38 for men and 34 for women in 1971 to 45 for men and 42 for women in 2011.
We're living longer and more actively than any previous generation. That's great. But it also means that the prospect of togetherness is stretching longer than ever before and, let's face it, that picture can be grim. With the Australian Bureau of Statistics estimating that a man who's currently 65 will live into his mid-80s and a woman to almost 90, that's a whole lot of togetherness. As gerontologist Professor Hal Kendig of the University of Sydney has put it, "Old age used to be this very short period between when you stop working and when you get frail and die, especially for men." It appears that many of us are using this time to develop and maintain strong relationships to the end.