Benefits for Young Lovers Hanging out With Older Couples
“Each generation has something to offer the other,” writes Julie Halpert, in her 2018 New York Times article titled, Fostering Connections Between Young and Old. Among other benefits of intergenerational companionship, she reports from a university study that older adults “feel happy, interested, loved, younger and needed,” while younger companions admit that they learn from their elders.
This unique friendship blend of young and old can also benefit careful couples. Of course, we hope for an older married couple with integrity and a younger couple with a good sense of responsibility. We are also not thinking of twice a year visits on special occasions, but regular interaction in which the older couple takes on an informal mentoring role. Here, we point out a few specific benefits for the young couple.
When a young couple preparing for marriage intentionally chooses to become friends with an older couple, they will realize that the venture adds purpose to their individuality as well as to their union. They will learn to show respect and concern for their elders, instead of focusing solely on themselves and their peers. Their kindness toward the older folk will boomerang into the well-being of their own relationship.
The benefits they reap will add to their present joy of togetherness and will impact their lives far into their future. Following are six such benefits:
(1) Low-Cost Activities
Couples in love like to dine out at restaurants, but it costs money. It could be fun and less expensive to share some meals with an older couple. Whether one couple invites the other, or they share the preparation, they could save the maximum portion of what it would cost them to dine at a restaurant and entertain themselves.
They can share movie nights at home together—the older people educating the younger ones on issues from “back in the day” and the younger couple bringing the older one up to date on more recent trends. If they select the DVD from their collection, the only expense for the night would be fresh popcorn.
They could share long rides into scenic areas, display crafts and hobbies, teach their skills to each other among other activities which qualify for quality time. Their schedule for fun and leisure activities could provide more versatility and require less expense than if they only hung out with their peers.
(2) Story Telling
Young lovers are interested in how other couples met, and the steps leading from courtship to marriage. Older couples are excited to see young people experiencing the love connection and walking passionately toward a life commitment. Imagine the episodes the couples could trade about first times, about doubts established and then erased, about the incidents that made them determined to persevere with the relationship.
The older couple would have additional stories about the wedding day and night, the marriage years, the struggles and achievements; and would tell them with the intent to empower the young couple to enjoy and hold onto their love. In the process of story-telling, both couples empower themselves to be even more committed to their lives together.
(3) Friendly Advice
Premarital counseling is a necessity in the preparation for marriage, and there is an increase in the number of churches and civic authorities who recommend it. In addition to the counsel that young people receive from the professional counselor, they also receive friendly advice from the older couple who illustrate the counseling theories in their marriage.
The older people may illustrate by example, how to control his or her anger instead of initiating a fight with the spouse, how to surrender in an argument even though the surrendered has the better suggestion, how to seek and offer forgiveness. They may also give verbal advice and answer questions the young people ask. In the company of the older people, the young couple receives free advice both by precept and example.
(4) Secrets of Success
Every couple has some “secrets” which they think help them endure and enjoy the marriage. Although no two unions are exactly similar, and all strategies do not work the same for everyone, it helps to hear what each couple highlights.
The young couple will gain new insight every time older couples explain and illustrate their secrets. A secret like Mitch Temple’s on Focus on the Family will make a lasting impression. “The grass is greenest where you water it.” There are many more impactful secrets to be shared by older couples who invest in mentoring the young.
(5) Up Close Reality
Much fantasy abounds in the premarital stage of the young lover’s journey. In companionship with an established married couple, they hear about and see the attitude changes that could occur after the honeymoon, the compromises that have to be made between individual and family preferences, the financial adjustments that come with progressing from single to married life. They may read and receive counsel about these and other important matters, but seeing it up close and having it explained within a friendly hangout can only enhance their wisdom.
(6) Good Memories
The purpose of the friendship between the young and the old is partly for them to share positive memories which will enrich their lives as couples. Not that they have to remain in a party mood forever, but that they help each other find the rainbow in cloudy situations. As important as the memory of the activities, is the memory of the people themselves.
One of my unforgettable memories from watching an older couple, is remembering how attentive the husband was to his wife in a wheelchair; how he always made an effort to position the chair where she could have the best view, how committed and happy he was to know that she was comfortable, how her sense of safety peaked whenever he was around. They made marriage seem like the perfect road on which to find joyful companionship. That memory still nurtures my faith in marriage.
The incidents the couple will like to remember can be chronicled in their love-story journal. At opportune moments in their married life, these stories will become positive references in their less-than-ideal circumstances which both newlyweds and older couples may experience. These memories will create smiles on their faces and joy in their hearts when they remember together.
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© 2019 Dora Weithers