Why do old people marry

Wedding in old age: about saying yes at a late stage

You are well past midlife, have been married before, or are doing it for the first time. The dress is then usually no longer white, but cream-colored, or the bride and groom wear traditional costume.

The first time she sees him, he is almost naked. Only wearing a towel, Fritz Krempl, then 67 years old, comes down the stairs. "This is private," he will say to the perplexed Iris Reingruber, whom he takes for a passerby. Behind him, the make-up artist speaks up, laughing. Reingruber and Krempl were both booked as senior models for an infrared cabin manufacturer. Krempl has to take photos in the cabin. Hence the towel. For the next shot she is already (dressed) in his arms on the couch. “I thought to myself: My God she is thin. And her long, white hair, that mane impressed me, ”recalls Fritz Krempl, but it wasn't love at first sight. “It's a job that you do,” says Reingruber, then 51 years old. “We then parted again.” But fate will bring them together again and again for photo shoots over the next three years. She declines an invitation to dinner in the restaurant (“I was tired”), and accepts another to go on a boat trip. On the Krempl will also declare: “I love you. What you do with it is up to you, but I won't stop. ”It would be years before his future wife heard him. But then right. With moving in together, wedding and the promise “I will carry you in my hands”.

More marriages in old age

The number of people over 55 or older who get married in Austria has risen sharply in recent years. In 2000 there were 260 women who dared to get married when they were 60 or older, in 2014 it was almost three times as many, namely 690. For men (more of whom tend to marry later) the number rose from 615 to 1705. Depending on the age category (60–64, 65–69 or 70–74 etc.) the number has mostly doubled or almost tripled. There were even men who got married when they were 95 years old or older in 2014, 2012, and 2011.

A logical development that is not only due to the fact that people are getting older. Gone are the days when divorced people were judged, when the end of marriage (or the death of the partner) automatically meant the end of togetherness. Certainly also because the industry has discovered the elderly for itself. Those who are 60 today can and should feel 45. Images of pensioners with thick silver-gray hair dominate the advertising. The grandma with the scarf around her head has all but disappeared.

Adelheid Stieger-Lietz met her husband at a birthday party. “That was completely unexpected and surprising. We saw each other and immediately recognized a nice connection, ”says the now 50-year-old. Her husband is 66. Neither of them planned to find a new partner. He had been divorced for five years, she was in divorce. “I assumed I would get old on my own. Financially secure and with children, but alone as a really quirky woman. ”It was to turn out differently.

She is also impressed by his white hair when she sees him, her size. “I'm 1.82 meters tall,” and she likes high heels. The very next day they exchanged their first e-mail addresses. She writes: “It is so new and yet so familiar.” The heart decided immediately, later the mind too. Today she calls it “an unconditional love. It's a different love than the one we had before. Without expectations. Simply the joy. ”The wish to marry was then taken for granted. Although both were married before and knew that marriages can fail. Nevertheless, the decision was clear. “This love needs the same appreciation as our first marriages,” explains Stieger-Lietz. They didn't need the marriage for financial reasons. “It was important to us as a symbol. If we are no longer there, then this writing is a sign that this love once existed. "

Say yes again

This is how the two ended up with Gabi Socher. Wedding planner since 1999 ("The job title didn't even exist back then") and active in the Salzkammergut. She has married more than 440 newlyweds and is not surprised that people today get married even in old age. “You used to be retired at 55 and went to the senior citizens' association. Today you can't even talk about that anymore. ”She divides the older couples who dare to join her into three types. Those who have been together for 15, 20 or more years and are getting married for the first time. “Often the reason is that they didn't have time to think deeply about the subject. For example because they have made a career, ”she says.

The second type are couples who are already married and who renew their vows. No savings will be made for the festival. “Often the first wedding was very modest because you couldn't afford a lot, then you make up for that,” says Socher. With a solemn ceremony, wedding cake and a party. And then there are the couples who only get to know each other in old age. Those who (re) marry because they are so happy to have found someone. “In old age you don't have to prove anything anymore. That is then a very conscious yes to a common future, ”she says. By the way, hardly anyone marries in white, many in traditional costume. In any case, the couples enjoy their late relationship. “It has a completely different quality. We are happy with and for each other, ”says Stieger-Lietz. Also because you are aware of how quickly happiness can wane in life. After Heinrich's application, Stieger-Lietz fell ill with cancer. During their chemotherapy, the two married on the Pöstlingberg in Linz “with the family”. Together they have ten children from previous relationships, plus grandchildren, plus many siblings. Her husband was so strong during her illness, even though he got two new knees himself at the time, she says. Your two families would be happy "that the two of us are there for each other". Perhaps that would also distinguish an older marriage from a younger one. "In the past there was also the idea of ​​security, shared ownership of the house, and that children have a common name" - in old age that usually disappears.

Difficult choices

Fritz Krempl also enjoys the marriage. Today he is 75, his wife 59. “It's far nicer when you are old than when you were young. You have time, you live more consciously. I've discovered things that I didn't know existed. I don't mean the physical, but rather the togetherness, the conversations, the dealing with each other. ”He and his wife, Iris Reingruber, are sitting in the Café Traxlmayr in Linz that day. Reingruber has tied her white, thick hair in a braid that falls loosely over her shoulders. Everything about her is fine: the facial features, the figure, the wrinkles that emerge from the eyes like rays in thin lines when you laugh. She calls him sweetheart. He keeps taking her hand and kisses her during the conversation. “I'm always amazed at what a beautiful woman I have.” He smiles. The start of their relationship was anything but easy. Both he and Iris Reingruber were married when they met. His second marriage had been shattered for years, she finally gave in to his wooing - before that, however, an attempt to win her at tango dancing failed.

Her friends described her as brave: at that age, this step. “The hardest part was making the decision yourself.” For two years they threw feelings of guilt (she was married to her ex-husband for 35 years) off track. Krempl stays by her side, does not give her an ultimatum. “At some point it was good too. And I knew: I can enjoy it too. "

Working through your own biography is also important. "The future - a second or further marriage - only has a chance if the past - a first, divorced marriage - is allowed to apply," says Franz Harant, relationship, marriage and family chaplain of the Diocese of Linz. There has been a recommendation by the priestly council since 1992 that people who want to remarry should be prepared for their new marriage. Even if the desire to marry again with the blessing of God is less common in these couples than in first marriages.

It is usually more difficult to have relationships in old age. “The older people, the more sluggish they become. It takes a lot of discussion, negotiation and agreement on how we will work together. ”However, the desire for a successful marriage is the same for young and old. Not marrying would often amount to an insult. "It signals that I'm not sure whether you are the partner for life, that more or less consciously hurts the soul and makes you feel insecure," he says. Marriage, he thinks, is better than its reputation. It pays to invest in relationships, in conversation, touch, appreciation. He explains that the number of marriages has recently risen again by saying that “nobody feels like constantly having to reinvent themselves as a couple”.

Just a partner?

“At our age, I think it's totally stupid to say“ partner in life ””, says Stieger-Lietz. She is currently on honeymoon in Hawaii with her husband, Heinrich. It took both of them until their health was fit again. At some point he said: “What are we waiting for? Life can now be good too. "

Fritz Krempl and Iris Reingruber (both kept their names) got married two years ago. For love, but also to protect yourself. After his second marriage, he was financially ruined; she had money, but a small pension. “Nowadays you also have to take care of the finances,” she says. “And the feeling is very different when you say: 'My wife or my husband.‘ ”They got married on their own at the registry office, children and grandchildren were first invited to dinner.

Her husband's friends hadn't known about the marriage for a while. They had already warned him about the second marriage and said that it was not a good idea. “But I don't see anything bad in marriage. It is nice when there is love. And it is important that you also have to justify yourself to the law, ”he says.

Conversely, of course, he also knows women who say they only want a partner who lives elsewhere. "There are also a lot of old people who are looking for someone to do the laundry." This is not the case for him. It was he who promised his wife to carry her on hand. She smiles at him and briefly tears form in her eyes: "He has done that to this day."

Late wedding

The number of those who marry at the age of 60 or later has more than doubled in Austria in recent years. In 2000 there were 260 women who dared to get married at 60+, in 2014 it was 690. For men, the number rose from 615 to 1705. In 2014 there was a man who got married at 95 (or older).



were between 70 and 74 years old when they married in 2014.


were between 70 and 74 years old at their wedding in the same year.

("Die Presse", print edition, May 15, 2016)