Seeking Romance Later in Life ...

Question:

Dear Carmen,

    I first saw you on Life on the Rock this week. I was truly inspired , loved your talk, and will be reading your book soon. I wish I had such advise when I was growing up. I am 59 and have been divorced for 35 years. I’ve had wasteful relationships in these years past. I am still quite youthful in appearance and spirit, and many men approach me. But I stopped dating completely for the last three years. I am returning cradle catholic and in this late stage in life I have taken the time to re-evaluate my past poor choices. I have since decided to raise the bar. It is too late for me to save “That first kiss”? What rules can I live by? Because virtue is so hard to come by in the age group that I would consider dating, I just gave up. Can’t go back to being a virgin, and middle age men are not going to save themselves for marriage. Time is not on our side. I don’t want to deal with the sexual pressures of these times. I have upgraded my morality and am much happier. But I do miss having a good and intimate relationship, the one that I should have had as a young bride. Your theology is great for the younger people, but how do middle age relationships ever get off the ground if one wants to stay morally intact? Food for thought, hope you will speak or write on this topic.

Best regards,
Seeking pure romance later in life!

 

Questions...

 

Dear “Seeking pure romance later in life!”,

I applaud your decision to make a fresh start and set the standard for purity higher in your life! Purity begins — for each of us — anew each moment. No matter our past — pure or impure — we are presented daily with temptations toward impurity! We have to choose to become or to remain pure moment by moment. And when we fail, we have to remember, we can always start fresh! It is the deep conviction of the value of purity and our relationship with Jesus that will help us hold our standards high.

So I really encourage you to focus on your relationship with Christ! He is the One to fulfill your every need … even (and especially) your need for intimacy. It can be a long and lonely journey at times.

I’ve had good friends who have gone through divorces. I know how lonely it can be and how hard it is for them to remain pure when they are desiring intimacy, especially considering that the men their age seem to have little value for purity — being “men of experience”. There is a lot of pressure to just “go for it”, since you are no longer a virgin. But not all men are that way, so don’t give up hope!

Find strength in Christ and you’ll find strength in yourself:

One woman shared with me that she has battled this for years, but finally she is finding that Jesus is really filling that gap in her life and she is no longer turning to men to fill her needs. She has gotten involved with her parish, in a number of volunteer organizations, and in faith-study groups that help to keep her focused and provide for her a circle of friends to fill some of the loneliness that she experiences at times. But in the end, she tells me, that it was really committing herself to Jesus that made her realize that she could let the men in her life go until the right man comes along — if that is God’s will for her.

She really found strength in herself each time she walked away from a relationship that looked like it might be promising — guys can say whatever they want in order to impress a girl — but in the end turned out to be just guys wanting to sleep with her without commitment! Each time she said no and ended the friendship/relationship with one of these guys, she seemed to discover just how strong a woman in Christ she really could be. The transformation in her did not happen over night — but over the past three years, she has come light-years from where she was! Today she is much more joy-filled and does not suffer the loneliness and lows as she once did!

Value yourself and the treasure of your intimacy!

You may not be able to save “that fist kiss”, but you can certainly save “that next kiss”! Start to really value everything you are — as a person and each treasure of your intimacy — and store that up for where and with whom and when God wants you to share that treasure! It is not impossible for a person in their later years to discover truly exciting, God-glorifying romance that is dynamic and satisfying! I’ve known several couples who met later in life and have had beautiful and pure relationships. 

Place yourself in the right circumstances:

Where you place yourself will help to determine your chances of meeting such a man who values these things. For example, if you get involved with Church-related ministries and volunteer work, you might be surprised to find there are others there your age using their talents and time to serve the Lord as well. And those men are more likely to be interested in building a relationship based on purity than the men you would meet at a bar (not to say that’s where you hang out … but you get the picture!).

Be sure you are “FREE” to enter into romance:

Do not enter into a relationship with someone who is not free to marry! Being divorced, without an annulment, means that you are not free to marry in the Catholic Church. The Church recognizes and defends the indisolubility of marriage! An anulment is not “Church Divorce”, it is the Church stating that a valid Sacramental marriage never did exist. The Catholic Church has the authority to make this discernment after investigation of the marriage in question.

Without the annulment, a couple is not free to marry … nor are they truly free to even enter into a romance — because they are entering into romance with someone else’s husband or wife … which equals adultery.

I’ve seen a number of people get very involved in relationships — talking about marriage — and then later very upset that the Church did not grant an annulment. They end up leaving the Church in frustration. Yet, it was their imprudence or impatience that led to a situation where they were involved in a romantic relationship that could not go anywhere!

If you are divorced — you are not free to seek a new romance in your life without an annulment! If you meet someone who is in that situation – that person is not free! If you value the Sacrament of Marriage, then you will respect these boundaries from the beginning … and you’ll save yourself much heartache along the way.

Value the Gift of your Singleness:

In the meantime, until God brings someone in your life, do your best to enjoy the gift of your singleness … embracing it fully! Discover what God has in store for you — while still single! Singleness is not a curse.

If you are just getting to know Christ again in a whole new way — you might be surprised at just how romantic Christ can be! Fall in love with Him all over again … or perhaps for the first time ever! When Christ is your number one, it’ll be so much easier for you to enter well into a good, healthy, dynamic, pure romance with someone else — without compromise!

The rules of courtship are the same at every stage of life:

  • keep Christ at the center of your relationship and discern His will for it.

  • bring that relationship around your friends and family (parents, siblings, children, whatever you have as much as you can) … courtship belongs in the heart of the home. (But don’t bring a relationship around prematurely when there are children involved. Children attach themselves easily. Be very cautious to protect them emotionally as your discern.)

  • spend time together serving in the community.

  • get involved with your Church parish life

  • pray and share your faith together … go to Mass together and support each other in a Sacramental life: frequent confession and communion, adoration, etc.

  • set boundaries for physical intimacy … this is so important! Don’t shortchange your chance for lasting happiness! Purity makes a difference at every age and stage in life! Discover it’s power!

  • don’t place yourselves in temptation’s way and don’t give rise to scandal. Stay pure and make that evident to others.

  • have other people in your life to hold you accountable to your goals for staying pure!

  • seek a mentoring couple, or at least a couple who will journey with you and help give you feedback to how they see your relationship. A set of outside eyes helps you to see things so much more clearly.

  • enjoy authentic romance: romance that seeks to do little things for each other, giving, self-sacrificing, delighting in the little signs of affection that can mean so much when they are not obscured by physical intimacy before marriage.

These things will not change whether you are 25 or 52 … because self-discipline, self-sacrifice and self-giving are all foundational virtues for marriage and need to be lived out in the relationship before marriage if they are to be present within a marriage. And when you set an expectation of a pure physical relationship, that really opens the door for romance (doing all kinds of special things together and for each other to express your affection and love as it grows) and also for communication (because you are not just making out with each other, you will find much to talk about: life, faith, dreams, etc.)

The battle rages on for purity, marriage and family:

I hope some of this is helpful. I know yours is one of the hardest situations that men and women face in this whole battle for purity in this day and age. And you are not alone … unfortunately too many people have suffered the burns and pains of relationships that came out of worldly standards and ended up in divorce and hardship. And I’ve known some marriages to end up in divorce even though they started off “right” with a good foundation … but Satan is certainly out to destroy all marriages. No one is immune from his attacks, and we all must be on guard to protect our marriages and keep them centered on Christ. The battle to defend marriage and the family is huge in our society — we must do all we can to help support each other.

So I encourage you to stick to your commitments and persevere in a life a purity for the glory of the Lord and for all the joy that you will most certainly discover along the way!

Carmen Marcoux