In 2003, older men were more likely than older women to be married. This is because women live longer than men and widowhood is more common among older women. Three-quarters of men between the ages of 65 to 74 were married in 2003, whereas only one-half of women in the same age group were married (Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2004). However, although 59% of men over the age of 85 were still married, only 14% of women were (see Figure 9.3 for more information).

For those who are still married, most report that their marriages improved over time and that the later years are some of the happiest. Elderly men often report more satis­faction with marriage than do women, who complain of increased responsibilities in car-

Marital status of the population age 65 and over

□ 65-74 75-84 85 and over

Percent

 

Percent

100

90

 

Marriages in Later Life

Women

 

80

70

60

50

40

30

20

10

0

 

Marriages in Later Life

Marriages in Later LifeMarriages in Later Life

Marriages in Later Life

Marriages in Later LifeПодпись:Figure 9.3 Marital status of the population age 65 and over, by age group and sex, 2003.

Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2004.

ing for a sick husband or planning activities if he is retired. This is further complicated by the fact that older persons usually have very few places to turn to for emotional assistance. They have fewer relatives and friends and no coworkers, and they often feel uncomfortable sharing problems with their children. In addition, counseling services are limited.

Many older people who experience the death of a spouse will remarry. Older men are twice as likely to remarry, however, because women outnum­ber men in older age and also because older men often marry younger women (M. Coleman et al., 2000). White males remarry more often than other groups; the remarriage rates for African Americans are lower, and they have longer intervals between marriages (South, 1991). Marriages that follow the death of a spouse tend to be more successful if the couple knew each other for a period of time prior to the marriage, if their children and peers approve of the marriage, and if they are in good health, financially stable, and have ade­quate living conditions. Remarriages for couples older than 40 tend to be more stable than first marriages (Wu & Penning, 1997). One 73-year-old man describes his experience:

I can’t begin to tell you how happy I am. I am married to a wonderful woman who loves me as much as I love her. My children gave me a hard time of it at first, espe­cially because she is a bit younger than me, but they finally accepted the relationship and came to our wedding. In fact, they gave me away at the ceremony. That’s a switch, isn’t it? I put some humor into this situation when my oldest son, who is in the busi­ness with me, objected. He was telling me that marrying again and trying to have a lot of sex—imagine that, saying to me trying to have sex—could be dangerous to the mar­riage. So, I said to him with a straight face, “Do you think she’ll survive it?” He was so shocked, he laughed. (Janus & Janus, 1993, p. 8)

Подпись: ReviewQuestion Explain what we know about marital satisfaction in older couples. Although an estimated 500,000 people over the age of 65 remarry in the United States every year (M. Coleman et al., 2000), as we discussed earlier in this chapter, a small percentage of older couples live together in place of marriage (Chevan, 1996). See Figure 9.4 for more information on living arrangements in men and women aged 65 and over.

Marriages in Later Life

19

 

22

 

25

 

36

 

51

 

43

 

Asian Hispanic (of any race)

 

Marriages in Later Life

Marriages in Later Life

Figure 9.4 Living arrangements of the population age 65 and over, by sex and race and Hispanic origin, 2003.

Source: Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-Related Statistics, 2004.