Family affair

A Family Affair: When Life Doesn’t Always Go As Planned

Jacob Priest is a licensed marriage and family therapist and professor at the University of Iowa. He co-hosts the attached podcast. (Jacob Priest)

I’m about to turn 40.

And it’s kind of a weird feeling. The only real birthday I remember my parents celebrating when I was growing up was my mother’s 40th birthday. I was 14 at the time and my aunt decorated our house with black balloons to let all the neighbors know my mom was turning 40.

My life at 40 is very different from my mother’s. By the time she turned 40, she was already a mother of five children, and my youngest sister arrived about six months later. When I turn 40, I will have an 18 month old son and a new daughter in about a month.

When she turned 40, my mother had been married for about 17 years – I will only be married for three years. When my mum turned 40, she lived just 20 miles from where she grew up – I’ll be over 2,000 miles away.

For the most part, my mother has encountered what are considered the milestones of relationship development. She married in her twenties, stayed close to her family, and if it hadn’t been a surprise for my youngest sister, she had completed her family in her mid-thirties.

I was single until the age of 37, haven’t lived near my family for over a decade, and by most measures I’ll be considered an elderly father.

But there are a lot of similarities between my mother and me at 40. Most importantly, we love our spouses and our children. We are committed to being good parents and partners, and we have geared our lives to building a connected and close family.

Too often, it is expected that happy families can only be built if we follow a development script. We must get married in our twenties and have and raise children in our thirties. If we are not married by a certain age, sometimes we have missed the opportunity to build a life and a family that we really want.

It’s a fear that too many people bring into my therapy room. They have it in their mind that if certain things don’t happen at a certain age, they can’t have those things.

But that’s just not the case. Happy marriages and families can be built at any age and in many ways. If we put pressure on ourselves to live up to a certain cultural idea about when things should happen, we risk missing opportunities or settling for something that may not bring us what we hope for. ‘to come up.

Even though I still feel a little weird being 40, I wouldn’t change the way my life has been. My wife and kids were worth the wait.

Jacob Priest is a licensed marriage and family therapist and professor at the University of Iowa. He co-hosts the Podcast attached. Comments: [email protected]