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Is Refusing To Compromise a Deal-Breaker?

Relationships evolve. Young couples embark on marriage with separate habits and behaviors that in time become shared patterns. For senior women and senior men, the years of compromise are over. We’re lugging a lot of baggage. We’re open to new relationships, but we’re wary of meeting someone whose habits conflict with our own.

Trouble is, it’s a small world out there for single seniors — the older we get the smaller the dating pool. We’re going to be tying up with someone whose habits don’t match our own. What if he’s obsessive compulsive and you’re a scatterbrain? Or his dirty socks are strewn on the floor and you’re a clean freak? How can conservative and liberal ever make peace?  And imagine the calamity that awaits a music-lover and a partner with a tin ear.

Here are some reflections on – and a few solutions to — the odd couple challenge.

  • POLITICAL DIFFERENCES – These differences should never be a big deal; when they are, don’t take them personally; an attack on your favorite politician is not an attack on you. Focus on common ground (e.g., you both dislike the proposed tax plan, you want improved security at airports, you support equal rights for all in the LGBT community).
  • BIG COMPROMISES — Make major compromises only if you won’t feel resentment later. A city dweller who moves to a country home or a Philadelphian who relocates to Nevada will have a huge adjustment to make. The same applies to sharing life with a skinflint when you love shopping, or a stay-at-home when you love to travel. Accept major life changes only when you are fully prepared for disappointment — and you won’t take it out on your partner.
  • MINOR COMPROMISES – If he’s wild about Mozart and hates Rock and Roll, download the Rolling Stones to your smartphone, and use earphones when he’s close by. On the other hand, it will please him no end when you slide beside him on the sofa to watch a PBS symphony broadcast or go smilingly to a live symphony performance.
  • NOT TAKING THE BAIT – Maybe he thinks he’s being cute and clever when he teases you about your wardrobe, your weight, your cooking, your age, or your grandchildren. If these comments hit home, you’ll be tempted to deliver a snappy rejoinder. It’s tough to smile instead, but if you ignore his carping, it will stop.
  • TOGETHERNESS TIME FRAMES – Let’s say he’s retired and you’re not. Senior men who have made a commitment to share their lives with new partners are not looking to spend time alone. Companionship is their mantra and they crave your full attention. Be prepared with reassurances to counter his inevitable imagining that your job may be more important than he is.
  • RELIGIOUS DIFFERENCES – The many books and blogs written about this sensitive subject mostly deal with young couples and the challenges of raising children in a 2-religion household. Older couples can manage more easily. All it takes is respect for each other’s religious convictions and rituals, and that includes no pressures or comparisons that would compromise a partner’s beliefs.
  • THE MONEY GAP – This is a complex challenge because it can call up envy (“She buys with abandon and I struggle”) and suspicion (“Does he care for me or is it my comfortable home?”). Seniors’ nest eggs are only partly for sustenance – most of us think of leaving something besides debt for our children. Many seniors report that the best way to manage finances is to divide the cost of necessities (food, utilities, home maintenance, taxes, vacations) and beyond that to keep separate accounts, with full disclosure when that’s appropriate.
  • KIDS AND GRANDKIDS – Different ideas about childrearing have been deal breakers for many older couples. One reader of this blog wrote, “This man was everything I wanted until he turned into a monster when it came to my kids. He detested them and he made it obvious.” There’s no remedy for your dislike of a partner’s family (they’re not going to change), except for excusing yourself from time spent with them. Pretending to adore grandchildren you find unpleasant will backfire, I’m afraid.

 

 

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'Is Refusing To Compromise a Deal-Breaker?' have 13 comments

  1. February 11, 2016 @ 7:53 am Sienna

    Ms Betty – Thank you for your reminder that to be too demanding of potential partners is a recipe for loneliness.

  2. February 10, 2016 @ 4:36 pm Ms Betty

    I’ve read these comments. I’ve been alone for almost 20 years by choice, but now I’m looking for companionship and frankly, I’d take any one of the above gents. You ladies don’t sound very happy and possibly considering going it on your own/finding a new mate. Get real, it’s no picnic out here alone, especially in this day and age, where a woman isn’t safe from the criminal element. Hopefully, you have merely vented your distaste with your particular situation but please seriously consider what your life would be without him on a long term basis. It is far from peaches and cream.

  3. November 26, 2015 @ 2:54 pm Edna

    I am darn willing to compromise. Just send me someone to compromise with.

  4. November 24, 2015 @ 9:35 am Sienna

    So nice to hear from you, Tom, with words that inspire.

  5. November 23, 2015 @ 7:30 am Tom

    Here’s a man weighing in. My lady has more money than I do but she’s the apple of my eye and I’d love her if she didn’t have a dime. I always pay the check at restaurants because that’s romance. I buy her little things, too. She is terrific about the difference and I guess that’s all in the sprit of compromise.

  6. November 22, 2015 @ 8:37 pm Sienna

    Cristy – The TV sports addiction is not going away, but it seems you’ve got plenty of compensation…!

  7. November 22, 2015 @ 7:32 pm Cristy B.

    Not a problem for people who are used to it, but some men aren’t flexible. I’ve been seeing a man for about 6 months and he doesn’t want to do anything but watch sports TV. I keep asking him to do other things, but he won’t move off the couch except to eat dinner and then he goes back to the couch. He’s kind and the sex is good – maybe because it seems like a sport to him haha.

  8. November 22, 2015 @ 12:11 pm Jerry

    I don’t think it’s a deal breaker. I like women who stand their ground. If it’s a political battle no problem, but something like bad housekeeping would send me away. Bad cooking wouldn’t bother me because I like to eat out.

  9. November 22, 2015 @ 11:09 am Holy Golightly

    It depends on who is compromising. I think women are better at it, because men over sixty are set in their ways.

  10. November 22, 2015 @ 10:19 am KLee

    I want to respond to RLT’s comment. I am also stuck with a miser and I say that I’m stuck because I don’t have the funds to make it on my own. I am very careful with my money but I like to have fun and I wish he would just spring for something besides some groceries every once in a while to help me out. He is set on saving every last dime. Maybe he feels he will run out of money before he dies. I read that a lot of older men think that way but it is hard on me and I wonder if it is worth it to stay with him.

  11. November 21, 2015 @ 2:25 pm Penny Lane

    It’s the same old story here. Women are the ones who have to compromise, right?

  12. November 21, 2015 @ 1:41 pm Sienna

    RTL — Retirement means frugality for many men. Once they had plenty of disposable cash and now they are on a fixed income — it’s a suddenly scary situation. Nagging won’t help. Concentrate on the “good person” part.

  13. November 21, 2015 @ 9:38 am RLT

    Habits like a man leaving his socks on the floor can be changed, but you can’t get an old man who is tight with his money to spring for anything. I’m getting ready to dump a man who is in every way a good person except that he hates to go out to a restaurant and he has never bought me a present that costs more than $40.


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