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Over-50 first-time marriages increasing

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Maybe twilight is the ideal time for marriage – the twilight years that is, 50 and beyond. Just a suggestion – Josei Jishin’s (Sept 20). Many single women, committed though they are to careers and independence, reach a point where marriage suddenly seems right. A decade ago that point tended to be somewhere in the 40s. Now it’s in the 50s and even 60s. Aging actresses and singers – lifelong singles, their fans had every reason to think – are setting the example and the pace, and ordinary women, the magazine finds, are following.

When actress Aiko Nagayama at 56 married an actor 16 years her junior in 1997 it was in effect a bold challenge to convention, and the next example Josei Jishin comes up with, singer Linda Yamamoto’s marriage at 50, didn’t happen for another four years after that. But since 2008, there have been four, and 57-year-old singer Sachiko Kobayashi’s planned November wedding will make five.

Numerically that may not be strikingly impressive, but these are very high-profile people whose ripple effect is considerable. Among non-celebrity women, “over-50 first-time marriage is increasing,” Josei Jishin hears from a marriage consultant. “Among our customers, it’s grown more than 20% in the past year, and 26% of our female clients who have never married before are in their 50s.”

Celebrities are not the only spur, of course. Another is the March 11 earthquake-tsunami, a reminder if ever there was one, of vulnerability and uncertainty and the need for moral support.

“Women who have lived quite happily on their own until now suddenly came to feel the importance of a bond, a tie to another person,” says the marriage consultant.

So it was with actress Mari Natsuki, 59, who married a singer eight years younger in May.

“Most women over 50 marrying for the first time were more interested in their careers than in their home lives,” theorizes marriage researcher Atsuko Okano. “Women in their 40s are still giving their all at work. Then they get into the 50s and start to slow down. Maybe they’re no longer as strong physically as they used to be. They know something of the ups and downs of love, and they have confidence in themselves.”

Besides, Okano continues, “For women, giving birth and raising children is a big responsibility – big enough to make career women hesitant about marriage. But past 50, that’s no longer a worry, which is another advantage of marrying at that stage of life.”

We’ll give the last word to actress Etsuko Ikuta, 64, who married for the first time at 58 in 2005. “I loved my work,” she says, “and if marriage was going to interfere with it, I wouldn’t marry. But then came menopause, and with it depression, and I found myself changing my mind. When you’re feeling out of sorts, it’s a comfort to know there’s someone coming home to you. I say, ‘Bring me my medicine,’ and there’s someone within range of my voice who gives me his attention.”

Of course there’s more to it than that. “He’s lived 60 years, I’ve lived 60 years, each of us respects the other. We’re partners who don’t hold each other back.” Perhaps that wouldn’t be true if they were in their 20s.

© Japan Today

©2022 GPlusMedia Inc.

30 Comments
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Interesting.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Yes, JapanGal, I thought so too. These women should not be seen as weak or afraid to be alone; on the contrary, their willingness to make such a major change in their lives should be applauded. Best line in the story comes at the end:

We’re partners who don’t hold each other back.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

At the last stage of human-life?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

"it’s a comfort to know there’s someone coming home to you. I say, ‘Bring me my medicine,’ "

Isn't that just so romantic ...

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

"it’s a comfort to know there’s someone coming home to you. I say, ‘Bring me my medicine,’ "

yasukuni: Maybe he could bring her medicine but can also say "Bring me my beer". That's a fair compromise.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

More power to them I say. I think that there are plenty of single middle-aged folks out there, first marriage or otherwise, that would love to have a partner to spend time with as they get older.

My Mom lived without her husband for nearly 30 years, and while she never contemplated remarrying she often opined about being alone and at times wished she had someone around her, even just to talk to and have coffee with in the AM, or to scratch her back, and give her a hug.

I think it is part of human nature to want to be with and around other people, no matter the age.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

paulinusaSep. 15, 2011 - 07:59AM JST "it's a comfort to know there’s someone coming home to you. I say, ‘Bring me my medicine,' "yasukuni: Maybe he could bring her medicine but can also say "Bring me my beer". That's a fair compromise.

Or teeth.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

I hope my Mum remarries or at least gets herself a partner. She is 63 and has been a widow for over 10 years. She is way too active and independant to spend the rest of her life alone. She wants someone she can have fun with and share experiences with. But the guys she likes are always my age! Eek! My Mothers a Cou---gar----!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I say to anyone who wants to get married at any (legal) age, all the power to them. It's a MUCH better alternative than the sad, lonely 'aunt' who gave up getting married after forty and just lives with family, taking care of others' kids, etc. In many countries people even get married/re-married in SENIORS' HOMES, which is also wonderful if they are seeking companionship. Getting married at 50 or later doesn't mean anyone's career need to take a back seat, or that women will have to stay home and serve the man.

I'm also noticing an increase in people getting REmarried in their forties or fifties after having divorced or what have you. I think it's great!

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Nicky: I hope your mum finds someone too. And I agree, people need not necessarily get 'married'; common-law is perfectly fine.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Won't be many kids coming out of these unions then............

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Wasn't it last year, a 60+ woman in Italy gave birth? Japan needs all the babies it can get?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

It is a sad fact that modern, industrialised societies have a low birth rate, but I think it is perfectly okay to decide that the personal way of contributing to society is different. As long as You set Your mind on what and how You can contribute and You are convinced that You are not going to regret Your decision later, the choice should be entirely Yours.

And if they marry at an age above 50, they can even help each other aging with decency. It lifts society's burden of care for senior citizens somewhat. Far better this way than if they turned into unhappy, ranting old blokes like Ishihara.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why would anyone in their right mind want to go an spoil things that late in life.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Somewhere else on this site it was reported that there are nearly 50,000 centenarians in Japan, and rising, and yet over 50 is in the twilight years? So what percentage of the population does that tip over the edge? 60%? More? Arggggh!

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Good grief, married people live longer. That means these newly married seniors will be in front of me at the grocer slowly counting out their single yen coins for another decade or so. Let them remain single and take up sky diving as a hobby.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

Good grief, married people live longer.

Not necessarily. Rather, people in good health and with good genes are able to find partners to marry more easily than unhealthy people who will die sooner.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

My salutation to every career women in this world who can take a BIG responsibility for having kids and family. You are much much better and the best compare to other who only success in their career. Take the challenge woman! You should know why you was born.

-1 ( +3 / -4 )

Some do not have that choice to make, Azida P. "best compare to other who only success in their career" indeed.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Like i said, only the best will take the challenge and i have seen many of them and I'm very proud of them :)

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well I am sure pretty sure the makers of viagra have got to be feeling good. Maybe it's time to buy some stock in the Japanese company that produces it.

What they used to do all night long, now takes them all night long to do. Unless of course they fall asleep first.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Marriage has nothing to do with God. Since three out of five western marriages end in divorce. I know couples who have been together for decades and have beautiful children and never married.

Heaven or hell?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Azida-san, of course raising children is a challenge and many people rise to the occasion. It's nice you are proud of them. That they are able to do this does not inherently make then "best", and that is my humble point. Many women are unable to conceive through no fault of their own. They have to figure out how to have a valuable and valued life without creating a family. Your statements are hurtful although you may not wish them to be so.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Dear Ranger_Miffy2-san, of course i never meant to hurt anyone. I'm a woman still with no child. Still ttrying. What I mean is only to those who can afford to have a children and family but don't choose to have them because they feel it is too challenging. Just a bit jelousy to those who already success in their career and family. I wish I have them too.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Well, that is much more clear. Thanks for your thoughtful reply. Best of luck to you in your future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Low birth rate increasing of older people common dilemma for developed countries

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Not necessarily. Rather, people in good health and with good genes are able to find partners to marry more easily than unhealthy people who will die sooner.

Unhealthy people marry all the time. Open your eyes. They find other unhealthy people. Bingo.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

its an interesant article. first marriage at your 50`s. but not thinking about kids. from other view you need a partner through your life to support each other even in happiness even in sadness. i am wondering what kind of realtions have those people who marry the first time when they are 50 years.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I thought married men live longer while single women do. Good luck to these guys. Shame that Japan couldn't help these independent women balance a career and a family life. Hope that will change.

Nicky, that made me laugh - nothing wrong with a cougar!! I am glad more women are dating younger men! Hubby is younger than me and no one says anything about it here!! The same can't be said for home!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

it up to the individual to decide when ready to marry. i see nothing wrong with japanese women. if everybody did the same thing, things would be very boring. we all have computers relationships that can last a very long time.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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