More than 40 years of marriage, and now that: separation instead of golden wedding. Would not Thomas and Thea Gottschalk have been able to hold on to the last few meters?
The most frequently expressed reaction to the separation of the Gottschalks resembles a reflex: "Why now?" After nearly 50 years of relationship, more than 40 years of marriage! But life does not care about a suitable time: The date, as the devastating forest fires the house of the Gottschalks in rubble and ashes, fell on their 42nd wedding anniversary. There is nothing left of the wood-paneled staircase through which the children once romped, not even Rilke's hand-written poem "The Panther" which hung in it.
There is only a remainder of the common family home in Malibu. To what extent this was true of Gottschalk's marriage remains speculation. However, there's the anecdote about the cats, and maybe she's the answer enough: in the few seconds she stayed, wife Thea made the decision to save the cats from the flames – and only them. No art, no documents, no poetry. Even the litter boxes and the food made it outside to the garden, but not the Rilke. All important files, the caravan, his cars and, not forgetting the Bavarian Order of Merit of the spouse, left them to the conflagration.
Now, after becoming aware of the separation, the question is in the room, whether the hut at Gottschalks then burned not only in a figurative sense. Or if she was the trigger for the tragedy. It is known that incisive experiences can weld married couples together, but can also destroy them forever. For example, because at the death of a common child everyone mourns in his own way. Or because the loss of employment brings to the surface problems that unfold their devastating effect only in forced inactivity.
Perhaps the family seat of the Gottschalks is not the only thing that has gone up in smoke. Quite possibly also that the couple felt uprooted since the fire: While Thea dodged in the New York second home, knew Thomas Gottschalk long, where his new center of life would be.
But the central question remains: why only now? Whereby with now less the time when the circumstances are meant: now, after more than 40 years of marriage! Ironically now, where the common home is destroyed! Now that the two sons, 36 and 29, are out of the house long ago! Now that the couple could enjoy their twilight years! And anyway: Now, at this age! Especially this age seems to upset people.
Of course, the topic of separation does not seem so morally strained anymore. But this seems to apply only to couples up to a certain age limit. The reactions show how difficult society is with the idea that seniors start again. Form a new partnership. And yes, are sexually active. "The taboo is still valid," confirms the couples therapist David Wilchfort, the reality is already there. To him, who has been married for more than 50 years, come again and again couples arguing over sex, some of them well over 70. Also for these people is that they feel much younger than they are.
But not only in terms of their sexual needs encounter older people in the environment often lack of understanding. Many ask themselves (according to the motto: "The few years you can do well"), why couples do something like this: after a lifelong relationship in the cold water jump. "Because they can," says Wilchfort. And because they just do not find it, it's not worth it anymore. On the contrary: "Today we try to get something out of every minute of life and we are used to implementing needs."
The fact that couples between 50 and 60 separate themselves after the children move out scares the least. The reasons are understandable: Finally, time for yourself again, you have done a lot and could be old in peace together. But this puts you in a decision-making phase again. And they have the freedom to realize their own ideas – but unfortunately sometimes they are different.
However, many survive this critical phase and arrange or find each other again. "Often you live on," says Wilchfort. Because separation is not always the best solution. When the children are out of the house, a new space opens up for the relationship. That is, both can think about the form in which they want to live together.
Not infrequently, this evolves what has been known as the "open relationship" since the 1970s. Although the focus is not on the pursuit of sexual needs. You stay together as a proven team because you have valued and cherished, but each pursues the individual interests of his or her own. More and more older couples live together in peace under one roof, but admit to each other, the free time to make their own ideas. "Such arrangements often arise over time, without an agreement being necessary," says Wilchfort. Today, this is being lived more and more often, without much talk about it.
However, the intention does not always coincide with the result: "Even if this was not the case, alienation is a way to prepare oneself and one moves away from one another," says Wilchfort. In other words, you only live side by side. Then comes the time when the fear of being alone gives way to a greater need. Where something suddenly changes for you. And one goes. When couples decide to split up, it's usually surprising to outsiders. The victims themselves experience this step far less drastically.
Why the couple Gottschalk only now separated, they do not lose a word. On Twitter, a user offers a statement: "Actually, his wife wanted to part with 30 years ago, but Thomas has once again clearly overdrawn." What we would be at "Wetten, dass …" – at that time everybody, Gottschalk and this show thought, that's something for eternity. When Gottschalk actually went, it was, after 22 years and 151 broadcasts, quite late. But also a pity.