It's all about how you look at it.
According to researcher Karl Pillemer, "In my studies of over 700 long-married people, I uncovered hundreds of pieces of advice, from specific tips to big-picture suggestions.
So I had to think when asked to consider the question: "What’s one thing older women would like younger women to know about love and marriage?"
After pondering the data, a particular point stood out that the women in my sample (ranging in age from 63 to 108) wanted to pass on to those embarking on the relationship journey."
The first response was - by far - the most consistent one:
1. Choose carefully.
These older women have noticed that younger women tend to do one of three risky and possibly disastrous things: First, they can fall passionately in love and commit immediately, Secondly, as they reach their 30s, they commit out of desperation, for fear that no one better will come along. Third, they can drift or fall into marriage without the choice or its reasons ever becoming clear to themselves or others. As 81-year-old Marie said bluntly, “it is better to not marry than to marry the wrong person. Both my husband and I were married once before, and it took that experience to learn this lesson."
2. Think the old-fashioned way.
The elders suggest you think about whether your future spouse will be a “good provider.” It’s an old-fashioned term, but it embodies a fundamental truth: marriage may be about love, but it’s also an economic arrangement that unites the financial futures of the partners. So women (and men, too) need to ask: Does my prospective mate like to work? Will he or she hold up their end financially? And can they responsibly handle money? The elders told story after story of having to carry the economic load and handle someone else’s debts and bad financial decisions.
3. Do other people like your partner?
You don't need to make the choice entirely on your own, older women say. Listen to your friends and family: Do they like your partner? Do they think you're being treated well? Do they think your partner is serious about the relationship? I heard from elders who made a wrong choice: “If only I’d listened when people told me this was a bad decision.”
4. Make a list. Yes, seriously.
Write down an actual list of what you need out of a relationship and whether those needs are being met. Rowena, 69, found the list helped her. "When I met Graham and decided to get involved with him, I sat down with a piece of paper and I wrote pros and cons. I was in my 30s at that point, and I said 'Hmm, you know, this is what I want.' And this guy had those qualities — many more good ones than bad ones.
"By that time in my life, I was awake to what I needed. And really sitting there with a piece of paper did it. It may sound cold-blooded, but I made a list of what I and what he could bring to the situation. At this point I had a little boy and what he needed was very important to me — and it turned out very well."
5. Do your life goals align?
The elders say that women should make sure — before committing — that their partner’s goals for a good life together align with theirs. Unfortunately, such discussions are sometimes not explicit and detailed. They suggest serious discussions about one another’s goals and aspirations for work and career, for how expensive a lifestyle you wish to live, and particularly important — children. Nadine, 65, pointed out that women may assume their partner wants kids. "In fact, a couple may disagree substantially on this issue,'' she said. "In my job, I sometimes counsel young people and a lot of times they say: 'Oh well, we’ll just bracket that question for now.'
"But sometimes people actually have pretty strong feelings about whether they will or won’t have children. And one person can say, 'I really want children.' The other one says, 'Well, I’m not sure' and they let it go. But sometimes that really means no.