How To Get Married After Forty is an excellent guidebook to help you find the right relationship or improve an existing one, no matter what your age. It takes you through the steps to rediscover who you really are and how to be your “true self” to achieve “true love.”
Why is this book geared toward people over 40? The authors, in their therapy sessions, have learned that while people of all ages need and want a loving partner, those over 40 are looking more for partners who are kind, caring, thoughtful, and capable of intimacy, rather than those just driven by their hormones. They want someone genuine, someone real. And since we get what we project, the authors take us by the hand on an interesting discovery into who we really are and what is behind our feelings and actions.
I learned a lot from the information on how our dysfunctional families (the authors state 80% of childhoods can be classified this way) can leave us with toxic beliefs and ways of relating that sabotage our efforts to have a good relationship.
Luckily, it’s never too late to marry, remarry or revitalize an existing relationship, and the authors provide the tools: Seven steps to finding and happily keeping a life partner, Ten hidden beliefs that destroy intimacy, plus worksheets, exercises, meditations and visualizations on how to express feelings, how to communicate, and how to forgive. With this help, we can achieve a relationship that will honor what’s in our best interest and serve as a vehicle for our transformation and growth into our best selves.
The stories included from the authors’ years of counseling couples and individuals make the book very relatable to any reader, while their well-referenced guidance makes the book an invaluable tool for other counselors and life coaches to use as well.
MEET THE AUTHORS
Karen McChrystal, M.A., and Steve Ross, M.A., both writers and therapists, answer my questions here about their collaborative effort on How To Get Married After Forty.
1) What is the underlying message of your book?
Karen McChrystal: Being fully yourself is the very best way to attract and create a wonderful loving relationship. Authenticity ensures we will select for the person(s) who really fits with us. After forty, this is more important than ever. Generally speaking, before the age of forty, most people are devoting much of their time and interest to having a family and rearing children. After forty, we can devote ourselves to cultivating what we, as individuals, are really about, and who fits with us in this next stage of life. Now, as we stand forth as mature individuals in our own right, we come face-to-face with any impediments we may still have to being fully ourselves. How to Get Married After Forty offers guidance and steps for becoming fully ourselves and finding mates who celebrate this in us and also want authenticity.
Steve Ross: The underlying message is twofold. First of all, we want to send a message of hope, especially for those over forty: no matter what you’ve been through, it’s never too late to find your partner, to marry, remarry, or qualitatively improve the relationship you’re already in. Secondly, we’re sounding a wake-up call: being happy is connected to being true to yourself. We call that “personal authenticity,” and we call our approach “radical” because it doesn’t focus on the externals of dating or where to meet people. Our approach is from the inside out, about being true to oneself first and foremost, which makes one more able to commit to and love another person. We say, focus less on finding an ideal mate than on becoming an ideal mate. That makes a person really attractive to others who appreciate and want someone open, honest, loving, and genuine. What’s the point of trying to appear like what you think someone else wants and getting close with people who can’t see, don’t know, and perhaps aren’t even interested in who you really are?
2) What inspired you to write the book?
Karen McChrystal: Both of us, as co-authors, met after the age of forty; both of us were (are) psychotherapists, deeply interested in what keeps people from leading fulfilling lives past the age of child-rearing, and in how to help others actualize themselves and to evolve into fuller dimensions of human potential.
Probably my initial inspiration was my long-standing interest in how people could learn to come forth and shine brightly as who they really are. I wanted to live in a world surrounded by people who each expressed their unique brilliance and gifts.
So when I became a psychotherapist, I focused on the subject of creativity versus madness, wrote my Master’s thesis on the creative process, and started out my psychotherapy private practice working with blocked writers and artists. I found great joy in helping these clients access their natural creativity by removing inhibitions rooted in their past. Their transformations before my very eyes was wonderful. I got the idea for How To Get Married After Forty based on the lessons from this work, about how people can live as who they truly are. And, of course, the lessons of this work could be, and were applied to my own marriage.
Steve Ross: This book was a joint effort, but we were coming from different places. I agree with what Karen said about this, but my passion about personal authenticity was very personal and pre-dated meeting her. Back around 1986, I was a counseling intern at a Community Mental Health outreach center in San Francisco, serving several neighborhoods, including the Castro. About half of my case load were gay men with AIDS and over the course of my time there I lost several of them. Later that year the AIDS Quilt came to San Francisco. It was housed in the bottom level of the huge Moscone Center Convention Hall. I can remember the literal descent from daylight into twilight as I walked down level after level to the bottom floor. It was like a journey to the underworld. The hall was almost totally silent. I could occasionally hear someone breathing or softly crying. I have no idea how many others were in the room. I felt absorbed by the silence and the sheer gravity of the situation. We walked up and down the rows of colored fabric, reading the words of love and condolence, studying the photos. I saw panels of at least three of my former clients. I was not overwhelmed, but I was full to the brim. Each time I passed someone I made brief eye contact, we nodded, eyes soft, faces unsmiling, filled with emotion. I left that silent, dimly lit and cavernous hall with a keen awareness that during that time we had checked our social graces at the door. All of us had worn our real face, were totally in the moment, real as real can be.
As I walked up those stairs, literally from darkness to light, the bright blue sky and fresh air of a city afternoon getting progressively brighter and sweeter, I felt a tremendous energy and sense of exhilaration. I clearly remember thinking, “This is how I always want to be and feel and live, in this same state of authenticity and focus, and why couldn’t that happen? What prevents us from doing that?” Once home I sat down to write “The Seven Steps to Personal Authenticity,” which I presented in lecture format to various groups. Later, after meeting and sharing a private practice with Karen, we started a pre-marital counseling service and turned our attention to how people can discover and enhance marital compatibility. When we began writing our book, my Seven Steps ended up as Chapter 4.
3) What do you hope readers will take away from your book?
Karen McChrystal: A deeper understanding of what it takes to be fully ourselves in relationship, what the deep-seated impediments may be, and how to work through these. Most mid-life relationship books give lists of nice things to do for your mate, to keep them interested, to keep sex fresh – more like grocery lists. Or they may raise the issue of hidden beliefs, but do not explain more than the obvious ones, nor do they discuss how we heal in the context of relationship – healing through feeling safe to be fully ourselves, through communicating effectively, completely and truthfully, through testing to see if our partner will re-traumatize us, through listening with accurate empathy rather than with pre-conceptions, judgments and biases, and through honoring who each of us really is.
Our book is based in solid psychoanalytic/psychotherapeutic theory and research, time-tested, and which has provided us and our clients over the years with life-changing fundamentals.
Steve Ross: We hope our readers will feel revitalized, energized, and empowered by our book. We hope it will inspire them to move forward on the path of self-discovery and personal authenticity.
How To Get Married After Forty is available on Amazon Kindle, and makes a perfect Valentine’s Day gift for yourself, your friends, and even your mate if you want your relationship to evolve ever deeper.
Becca Chopra, author of The Chakra Diaries, Chakra Secrets, and Balance Your Chakras, Balance Your Life