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Publicado el día: 13 Abr 2024

The ex-partner is not liked, they’re not a threat to the new love interest, not a problem

The ex-partner is not liked, they’re not a threat to the new love interest, not a problem

Maggie Owens*, a Sydney high-school principal, also remembers the feeling of coming in as “the new wife” when there has been a long, happy marriage beforehand. Now 67, she was 58 when she met her current husband. She had been divorced and a single mother for many years but he had only been widowed six months or so.

“In those early days, I often had a strong sense that in his mind I was a replacement,” Owens says. “There’s a real difference between getting together later in life when you’re divorced and getting together when one of the partners has died. When you’re divorced, especially if you’re miserably divorced, then that’s fabulous. When someone has died, on the other hand, they assume saint-like qualities regardless of how they really were.

Love grows but the tender union is torn apart when their grown-up children step in, disapproving and suspicious

“It’s hard not to feel you’re being compared. The first time we went to a big public gathering with his friends and family, this woman raced up to me and said, ‘Oh, Maggie, everyone in the room is looking at you. Absolutely everyone!’ People kept calling me by her name, or saying things like, ‘Penny would have loved you.’ I tried to be very gracious about Är utländska kvinnor hetare än amerikanska kvinnor? it but after a while I felt less gracious.”

Jane Fonda and Robert Redford played two older people finding love in the 2017 film Our Souls at Night

Looking back, Owens can also see she was clumsy in her entry into the larger family, not fully appreciating that her new partner’s adult sons were, naturally, grieving the loss of their mother. “When you’re in the first flush of that romance, getting to know someone, you’re not completely sensitive to the needs of others around you. When I look back, there are things I shouldn’t have done, family functions I shouldn’t have attended, but I wasn’t thinking about that then.”

In Kent Haruf’s poignant novel, Our Souls at Night – later made into a film with Jane Fonda and Robert Redford – two widowed next-door neighbours arrive at a discreet arrangement to sleep together platonically each night, a simple salve for their loneliness. That kind of collision is not uncommon.

Maggie Owens had to smooth the ruffled feathers of her husband’s adult children when she got together with him, even though she came to the marriage with her own property and income. “There’s an inherent suspicion – how could somebody replace Mum? – but there’s also the question of money, the inheritance,” she says. “That’s a big thing. My kids couldn’t have cared less but his were worried.” When they finally bought a house together, they bought it as tenants-in-common so their shares would stay separate. Other couples safeguard their individual assets, or reassure their children, with a kind of pre-nup or other legal arrangement. Some even modify their living arrangements.

In 2014, researcher Sue Malta co-authored a paper on the course of late-life romances. She interviewed 45 Australians over 60, including that busy 79-year-old man with the four partners. (Malta notes, by the way, that sexually transmitted diseases among older people are on the rise. They often think they don’t need condoms.)

She found those relationships were often meaningful and sexually intimate, yet, interestingly, few led to living together or marriage. The women tended to prefer to keep their separate households, an arrangement known as “Living Apart Together”, or LAT. Reasons included independence, pension entitlements, a desire to play the field, not wanting to fall into a caring role or go back to picking up “socks and jocks”, and, yes, the thorny business of inheritance and not upsetting the kids.