17th century English poet Robert Herrick penned these immortal words about a very mortal subject:
To the Virgins to Make Much of Time
Gather ye rose-buds while ye may,
Old Time is still a-flying;
And this same flower that smiles today
Tomorrow will be dying.
The glorious lamp of heaven, the sun,
The higher he’s a-getting,
The sooner will his race be run,
And nearer he’s to setting.
That age is best which is the first,
When youth and blood are warmer;
But being spent, the worse, and worst
Times still succeed the former.
Then be not coy, but use your time,
And while ye may, go marry;
For having lost but once your prime,
You may forever tarry.
One of the great advantages of middle-age is that you are old enough to know but young enough to do. The great disadvantage of middle-age is the increasing and painful awareness of how fleeting life is. Childhood felt like one eternal summer. Youth passed more quickly but still seemed to go on for a good long while. Middle age snuck up on me. I don’t believe there was one day when I just woke up and realized, “Okay, I am no longer a young man. I am now middle-aged.” In fact, the term “middle-aged” is really a misnomer, since none of us knows how long we have left in this life. The fact that mortal life is relatively short makes it all the more precious.
So, what rosebuds will you gather while you still have time? What kind of memories will you make with your kids while they are still children? What contribution will you make to the world while you still have the physical energy and mental acuity? You have the experience to think about these questions with some perspective and live out the rest of your time with more intention and higher meaning.
Will you follow Herrick’s advice, “Then be not coy, but use your time, And while ye may, go marry”? (I think a lot of us are pretty “coy” when the subject of marriage arises. Nothing makes a middle-aged single feel more vulnerable than having people ask them about their plans to marry.) I was 50 years old when Cathy and I were married—which is almost four years younger than I am now. I don’t lament that I didn’t meet her when I was a newly returned missionary. (She was only 9 anyway.) I am glad that we have an eternity because we started a little late. With an eternal perspective, starting at 50 isn’t much different from 21.
On the other hand, however old you are today, you are younger than you will ever be again. If you went through some trauma (and what mid-single hasn’t), it is understandable that you don’t feel ready to get married yet—as long as you know the direction you want to go and don’t become complacent about it.
We started Love in Later Years and wrote Intentional Courtship in part to encourage and support you in living the second half of your life with more aspiration and enthusiasm than the first half—not to wait around until you are older to start building a loving relationship. We want you to rediscover the profound hope that marriage and family life can be joyful and rewarding. So, save up and take that trip to Disneyland with your kids, sign up for those art classes you always wanted to take when it never seemed practical, get that college degree or start that business, and pluck up the courage to ask that beautiful or handsome friend to have dinner with you. The world still holds enormous possibilities for you.
Don’t get stuck in soul-destroying bitterness or the melancholy of disappointment. Walk these two villains under your feet. You are alive! And for as long as you live, you have the right to feel hopeful. We often talk about the trials that inevitably come in every human life. But life is to be lived, not merely endured. So, gather your rosebuds and live it well.
About the Author
Jeff Teichert and his wife Cathy Butler Teichert are the founders of “Love in Later Years,” which ministers to Latter-day Saint mid-singles seeking peace, healing, and more joyful relationships; and the authors of the Amazon bestseller Intentional Courtship: A Mid-Singles Guide to Peace, Progress and Pairing Up in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Jeff and Cathy each spent nearly a decade in the mid-singles community and draw on this experience to provide counsel and hope to mid-singles and later married couples. Jeff and Cathy are both certified life coaches and have university degrees in Family Science. They are the parents of a blended family that includes four handsome sons and one lovely daughter-in-law.
You can connect with Jeff & Cathy at: