Published: Mar 5 2012
Relationship issues aren't just for the young. Seniors have issues with relationships as well. Some of these issues are similar to those faced by the younger crowd. To be fair, some issues are specific to seniors. Sometimes issues cannot be resolved on their own. It can be difficult to be objective without feeling the sting of accusations that often cause couples to be defensive with each other. A practical solution to resolving relationship issues is relationship counseling. Here are five reasons some seniors may have for going to couples or relationship counseling.
1. Bickering Turns into Arguing
Some arguing in a relationship is perfectly normal, according to a Psychology Today article on the psychology of love and the nature of relationships. If, however, occasional bickering turns into a full blown fight with increasing frequency, it may be time to consider relationship counseling. Seniors are generally not as quick to end a relationship because of fighting. Yet, a relationship characterized by constant fighting, can lead to serious health issues in seniors such as stress, fatigue, depression and even serious physical conditions. According to the Marriage Counseling Guide, couples therapy teaches each partner how to really listen and state their opinion without going right into argument mode.
2. Sense of Apathy
According to a 2009 study on common issues concerning the elderly, there is a direct connection between relationship apathy and cognitive dysfunction. In other words, sometimes when you get older you take one another for granted. According to a study referenced by the AARP, this is a common concern among seniors. Nobody likes to feel like what they say or do doesn't matter. This may not be the case, but if one partner feels this way it can lead to depression and other emotion-based conditions. People, regardless of age, like to appreciated every now and then.
3. Sexual Issues
According to a 2007 study of 3,005 adults ages 57 to 85, seniors still enjoy a healthy sex life. Yet, some seniors may experience diminished sexual intimacy as they age. This may be due a partner's physical inability to perform the way they did previously. A big part of maintaining a healthy sex life as a senior is connecting with your partner in more than a physical way. This may involve discussing your needs with your partner or simply finding other ways to be intimate. A counseling setting takes away some of the embarrassment some seniors may feel when discussing such issues.
4. Lack of Communication
Communication issues are really at the heart of most relationship issues. Seniors, in particular, may assume their partner knows how they feel. As a result, you may find yourself not telling your partner something as simple as "I love you" or offer words of encouragement. A common defense is that your partner should know how you feel. Regardless of age, people still like to hear that they are loved and what they do matters. A major part of relationship counseling is addressing communication issues. Reestablishing lines of communication may ultimately breathe new life into a relationship.
5. Lifestyle Adjustments
Seniors often face a major change in lifestyle as they grow older. This may include having more free time due to retirement or having more disposable income to enjoy leisure activities. While this can be a good thing, sometimes one partner is not used to having the other one around as much. Conversely, some seniors may cut back or eliminate many social activities they did before retirement. Both situations can put stress on a relationship. Relationship therapy provides a forum to voice concerns and reach a compromise that works for both partners.
Relationships face challenges, regardless of age. Some seniors may find it difficult to go to relationship counseling due to preconceived notions or a belief that marriage issues are private. Senior relationships are often built on a combination of love and friendship. As we go from one stage of life to another, there are changes that take place. Sometimes these changes put a strain on an otherwise healthy relationship. It is important to understand that relationship counseling is not about placing blame. It is about working out issues in a relationship that, at its core, is still strong.
Tom writes for Assisted Living Today, a leading source of information on a range of topics related to elderly care and assisted living boston.
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