Books by Eileen Simpson

Released: Dec. 2, 1994

An informal exploration of romantic love and marriage among those usually considered old enough to know better. Most of the couples in this book met and married their current spouses when both were over 60 years old. Drawing on interviews with more than 50 men and women (most of whom had also been married earlier in their lives), psychotherapist and memoirist Simpson (Poets in Their Youth, 1982, etc.) offers an anecdotal view of the experiences and problems that late-life lovers face. Some of the insights are surprising. Sex plays a much greater role in these marriages than has usually been reported. Moreover, without the need for—or fear of— procreation, physical love becomes ``existential...more gentle, tender, caring.'' Some of the problems of late marriage are obvious: money (who pays for what?), adult children (is the inheritance protected?), and learning to share a life again, often after many years of independence. Saul, a Pennsylvania farmer, and Beth, a New York City magazine editor, arranged their schedules so that, although Beth moved down to the farm, she continued to spend several days a week in the city, giving her the stimulation she needed and Saul the solitude he required. Other couples came to less dramatic but equally satisfactory settlements over such issues as air conditioning, travel, and visiting the children. The art of compromise was fine-tuned in these spouses, some of whom were on their third or even fourth marriage. They often met by contacting sweethearts or friends from their youth, sometimes through matchmaking acquaintances, but rarely through traditionally recommended routes like cruises and interest groups. Chapters on infidelity and separation are reminders that even seasoned elders can make mistakes. Literary references—Garc°a M†rquez, Dickens, Yeats, George Eliot—enrich the contemporary couples' plainspoken comments. Welcome and generally useful information for the growing number of men and women contemplating partnerships after 60. (Author tour) Read full book review >