Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

Deacon Paul and Helen McBlain write the Marriage Matters column for CatholicPhilly.com. Members of St. Joseph Parish in Collingdale, they have been married more than 50 years and have seven children and 21 grandchildren.

She says:

Ava says: My husband, Marty, and I have lived in our same home for 42 years where we raised our children. We have been happy here. Our home is comfortable and although we now have a couple of additional bedrooms, we each use one of the extra bedrooms.

Marty uses a bedroom for his beloved books. He is a history buff and has a huge desk and file cabinet in which he has stored local history information as well as his statistics. I use a bedroom as my arts and crafts area. That way, the mess can remain behind closed doors and the rest of the house can stay relatively neat.

Our adult children are encouraging us to consider moving to a senior citizen or “over 55” residence. I have given this a lot of thought, but although we are both approaching 80, I just don’t feel as though we need that move at this time in our lives.

I really listen to the well-crafted reasons why our children think we should move, but this has been our home for so long. It is affordable. We are accustomed to the neighborhood and love our parish. I just am not ready to take such a big step and am afraid I will regret such a great life change.

He Says:

Marty says: I, too, have respectfully listened to our kids when they lecture us about settling in somewhere before it is “too late.” I know we have both slowed down, but we are not bedridden or immobile yet! Ava and I are so happy with our life just as it is.

We have talked about moving to a retirement village, but neither of us really desires the structure of places like that. Ava likes to cook and she makes a couple of meals a week then freezes the extra so it is not as if she is slaving over the stove every night like years ago when all the kids were home.

I enjoy having the opportunity to go from one room to the next in our house each day or to putter around in the garden, practicing my golf swing and occasionally weeding. We get a neighborhood kid to do the heavy work and feel good about him being able to earn a little extra when he shovels our walk or mows the lawn.

All in all, maybe in a few years our situation will change. Maybe someday we will need a senior housing place. Maybe we will need more supervised care, but for now, I would truly like to stay at home. The question is: “How can we get our adult kids to agree with us?”

What do they do?

In today’s  world, where only recently “over 55” communities have developed to meet the collective social needs of older men and women, the opportunity to take some of the upkeep of a home away from a couple, giving them the time to recreate and relax is more available.

This comes with a price. Many of these opportunities do require a good bit of money. Many couples relish this lifestyle enjoying the social amenities that are available right down the hall or on the campus. Many couples are just not as comfortable making this move, preferring to remain in the old neighborhood that holds so many memories. Even a couple approaching 80 can still maintain a comfortable lifestyle living in the home which they chose, decorated and made their own.

It appears that Ava and Marty truly prefer, at least for now, to remain where they are. Ava and Marty need to have their adult children over for a meeting at which they lay out their plans for their future: to stay at home. Making clear that this is a firm decision can assist their kids to put the “move” on the back burner. Perhaps a compromise from Ava and Marty to agree to at least look at some retirement homes and possibly put their names on a waiting list, would assist the kids to feel more secure about their future.

None of us has a peek into our house of tomorrow, but most of us with graying hair and slower steps realize that the future may include being more dependent on help, care and loss of some of our freedom. To have an honest, open discussion with their children can at the very least suspend, for the time being, the annoying reminders from the children about their concerns for Ava and Marty.

If Ava and Marty have come to the recognition that this phase of their life — as they prepare to come home to the Lord — can be a special time of prayer and relationship and love in their marriage, their decision needs to be respected by the family.

“I believe I shall enjoy the Lord’s goodness in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord!” (Psalm 27:13-14)