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Welcome to Age 50: Top Relationship Tips

What boomers celebrating a big birthday in 2014 can still learn about love and commitment

By Suzanne Gerber

As the last of the boomers begin to hit a big milestone in January, we offer 50 tips for turning 50. 
Here are 10 relationship tips for people who are turning 50 in 2014 or are in their 50s:
1. Now is the time to strengthen your relationship with aging parents. If you’re lucky enough to have them around, don’t wait until “next year” to pay a visit or tell them how you feel. Every day is a gift so make the most of the time you have together.  
Check out the article “8 Things Your Aging Parents Want You to Know” — and the flip side to that, "8 Things Not to Say to Your Aging Parents."
2. You can make peace with your siblings. Even if you’ve been squabbling since the Eisenhower administration, you can shift your relationship into something more mature, one that isn't based on childhood roles or wounds. If you’re truly willing to forgive and move on, you might just forge a special bond.

(MORE: How to Make Peace With Your Sibling
3. Yes, Virginia, it is possible to recharge your romantic battery. There’s a rampant belief that after living together for 15, 25 or more years, couples naturally downshift into a passionless relationship based on shared memories and lifestyles. Au contraire! As Next Avenue contributor Terri Orbuch, Ph.D. (aka “the Love Doctor”) and other experts attest, there doesn't have to be an inverse relationship between passion and the duration of a partnership.
Pick up some pointers in "Love 101: 6 Ways to Recharge Your Romantic Battery."

4. Never stop being a positive role model for your kids. You might feel that your influence on your children fades with every passing year. In some ways, that’s true — but you’ll always be their mom or dad. The ways you can model positive behavior change over time, but they never fully go away.
(MORE: How to Be a Role Model for Your Adult Children
5. Don’t be afraid to end unfulfilling friendships — or to make new ones. By age 50, you’ve made and lost a lot of friends. You know the ones you’ll keep until the very end. It’s those other ones — people you grew up with, college suitemates, ex-colleagues, parents of your kids’ school pals — that can sap your time and energy and make you want to kick yourself for wasting a precious afternoon. Here are six tips to get rid of them with compassion while nurturing relationships that actually enrich your life: "Which Old Friendships Are Worth Hanging On To?"
6. Find a way to appreciate your mother, even if she drives you crazy. Of all the relationships we have in a lifetime, there’s nothing quite like the one we have with our mother — for better and worse. Some lucky folks have always had wonderful, satisfying interactions with the person who gave birth to them; others have had to disinherit themselves for their own sanity. While it’s hard to be objective about this most primal connection, it’s safe to say this relationship will color much of our adult behavior. Read “Mothers: We Reflect on What They Really Mean to Us.”
(MORE: Why Do Our Mothers Drive Us So Crazy?!)
7. Be a cool grandparent. There’s a world of difference between the relationships most of us had with our grandparents and those we have (or look forward to having) with our own grandkids. For one thing, boomers are more active and fit than prior generations. We also pride ourselves on being savvy about pop culture, style and technology. But if you need a few specific tips on how to relate to your kids’ kids, check out “7 Ways to Be a Cool Grandparent.” 
8. Sometimes love really is better the second time around. A perfect storm of factors — a spike in the divorce rate among boomers, the difficulty of finding lasting love after midlife and the ability to track down almost anyone on the Internet — is causing a mini-trend of its own: Former partners are discovering the joy of ex.
(MORE: Ex Appeal: Sometimes Partners Are Better the Second Time Around)
9. Generosity may be the most important quality in a solid partnership. “Love Doctor” Terri Orbuch, Ph.D., is an expert on happy, long-running marriages, having studied 373 couples over the past quarter-century. What she’s learned might just surprise you. More important than sex or money in a contented relationship, she says, is how generous each partner is to the other. Apparently, the little things really do mean a lot.
Read “Generosity May Be What Matters Most in Marriage.” 
10. You can enrich your life — and a child’s — even if you don't have kids of your own. There’s something magical about having close ties with members of the next generation. Pick up some pointers in “How I Became (and How You Can Be) a Fairy Godmother.”

Suzanne Gerber, former Living & Learning editor for Next Avenue, writes about inspirational topics including health, food, travel, relationships and spirituality. Read More
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