As we age our relationships within the family change. If we are lucky and work hard they morph into something deeper and more intuitive. However, if we are not so lucky and/or decide not to work at them, they shrivel and die. In this instance, we are often left lonely, isolated and alone.

In our book (P13) the stepped nature of life is considered. On a broader scale, when influence is considered, there are fewer categories and can be reduced to:

  • Childhood– where the individual starts totally under the influence of adults and slowly develop their own personality and character. As these aspects develop the individual starts to shoulder the responsibilities of life and make their own decisions. Normally, the consequences of these decisions are not overly serious and the individual learns to consider the implications associated therewith;
  • Youth and early adulthood – as the individual progresses, they begin to make and live with progressively more important decisions. The, effectively, start to assume responsibility for their own lives and future and separate themselves from their parents in this regard;
  • Adulthood – the individual is now responsible for their own life and decisions, often with the guidance and advice of older trusted individuals. It is at this stage that they start to look for companionship from among their peers and begin their journey towards parenthood;
  • Parenthood – Here the person assumes the responsibility for guiding and nurturing another human and the trials, joys, hopes, and fears this situation brings. Again, there is often a trusted source of advice available, but often this is disregarded.
  • Grand-parenting – As one approaches the latter end of life the influence often shifts again, this time to the adult generation. Many older people find this difficult to accept and it can become the source of much resentment, discord, and unhappiness. It is, at this time, important that both groups consider the other and try to reach a situation with room for both parties to maneuver. Whatever the problem, there needs to be a negotiated solution.

Finally, under this consideration, there is the relationship between spouses through life. In South Africa, more than 45% of marriages are terminated before the demise of one partner. The reasons for this appalling statistic are as many as the failed marriages involved and I have no wish to venture into that swamp of unhappiness. Let it rest that the 50% plus of marriages that survive result, over time, in the nature of the attraction between partners, an accumulation of mutual respect and understanding and a growth in mutual reliance that often results in the creation of an almost telepathic understanding of each other’s needs and desires. However it happens, this is the result of much hard work, patience, and respect for each other.

In closing, I would like to share what the priest who, in 1970, married my wife and I. After the vows had been exchanged, he asked for a small period to offer some advice, it went as follows:

“Andrew, if you can, at the end of each day, come home from work tired and worked out and greet Maureen with the question “How has your day been?” and concentrate on listening and sharing her trials, joys, successes, and failures, forgetting your own and;

Maureen if you can do likewise to Andrew when he returns from work and listen to his day, then

You will both have started to learn about both each other and the benefits of marriage. I wish you both the very best of luck and good fortune”

While we have not been totally successful in following his advice, I think we have been partially so and next year we will have been married 50 years, for which I am truly grateful.

I wish each of you a life as happy as mine with a family as fine and a spouse as wise, patient and understanding. Have fun folks