Example of older parents has guided my love life
A couple years ago I stumbled upon a hard truth: I wasn’t planned. My conservative parents, who would seldom travel together during my 18 years living between their walls, had booked an art tour in San Francisco in the fall of 1992. There, I was conceived with careful abandon behind a patch of painted ladies.
Yet this hard truth has been made easy.: My parents refer to me as a “happy surprise.” My mom had always struggled with having children. My only sibling, an older sister, is eight years my senior. My grandparents, now all deceased, were stunned at my 44-year-old mother’s sudden burst of fertility. My father, opposite her, was 47.
Some researchers argue against older parents having kids like me. They contend that older parents increase the risk of bearing children with chromosomal abnormalities, such as various mental, physical and mood disorders. However, I can attest to social benefits of the experience; namely, in the romantic department.
Both now about 70, my mom and dad have always been very much in love. They’ve had the same routine since their wedding in 1976: They wake up, feed their zoo of cats and dogs and enjoy a cup of joe over the morning papers. On many days I woke up not to an outstretched ray of sunshine but to their feral, choking laughter. They were both lawyers, and I can’t remember one argument between them.
How might having older parents affect my own romantic life? The issue has been underresearched. But it’s worth noting that married couples over the age of 50 are twice as likely as their counterparts under 50 to stay together, despite an uptick in socalled gray divorces.
From this, one can deduce that children of older parents are more likely to witness prolonged companionship. Indeed, my parents set a romantic precedent. Seeing them console one another through life-altering illnesses and pivotal deaths of many family members, for example, provided me with a deep-seated interest in obtaining something my generation seems to struggle with: commitment.
I realize not all people want families, but I know I will. My parents have never been co-dependent, but I’m attracted to the romanticism of their perseverance through all the ways the dice have fallen across their 40 years of marriage. Having been born when they had already been together for nearly two decades, I never questioned their devotion or their ability to compromise. While I may have been envious of kids in movies with divorced parents who were young, athletic actors, I’m thankful I never came close to actually being a child of divorce.
My parents’ routine offered me and my sister a stability that we wish to mirror. A longtime serial monogamist, my sister recently married at 30, and kids are still not on her immediate radar. My parents were not the first people they dated, but my sister and I have held out on any serious commitment until we knew it was one we could make, be it marriage or parenting.
I wholeheartedly believe my parents are a direct cause of my being single. I don’t feel any romantic anxiety or rush to get married, and I won’t date unless it’s serious. At this juncture, I’m not sure I even want to get married, and I haven’t set any sort of deadline. My parents have encouraged me to pursue a long-term relationship with myself first, fully aware that it’s possible to find a sturdy romantic partner at any time.
You could say I’m picky, but with love it’s best to wait until you’re capable of holding it. You can’t hang a painting on a wall wet with paint.
The writer’s parents had been married over two decades before he was born. He says their loving relationship has him wanting a similar long-term commitment in marriage.