The Side By Side Project

An Exploration of Aging, Relationships & Spirituality

Inspiration, Hope, and the Gifts of Aging

With an acute awareness of time running out, couples demonstrate how the final years can be the best time for a relationship. They can discover the many gifts of aging: more personal freedom, a spaciousness with time, a growing capacity to explore the relationship’s quality and depth, increased acumen for altruism, deepening interior lives, creativity, and offering a beneficial presence to each other and the world.

Resources For Aging Couples Seeking Meaning And Purpose

Side by Side: The Sacred Art of for Couple Aging Together With Wisdom & Love, along with The Reader’s Guide offers a myriad of invitations for discussing and discerning the many challenges and opportunities related to aging, relationships, life direction, and deepening spirituality.

Nonviolent practices for relationships

Guidance for ways to honestly navigate conflict that respects the dignity of each person and honors the potential for growth embedded and the presence of Spirit in the challenges.

Aging Together

In Side by Side readers discover the powerful intersection of relationships and aging, and address some of the issues entailed in growing older together. The couples share their discernment practices, for this is a time of life to carefully exercise the power of choice regarding living circumstances appropriate to this age, health issues, sensitive caretaking, grief, and the loss of friends and life as we knew it.

Gain Skills for Working with Aging Couples

Useful information and narratives concerning the many issues older couples encounter, as well as the use of the practical tools in A Reader’s Guide for couples or for a couple’s group design for gatherings in churches, neighborhoods, retirement communities, etc.

Side By Side Aging Book Cover

Let’s Talk About Ageless Love

Side by Side: The Sacred Art of Couples Aging with Wisdom & Love

by Caryl & Jay Casbon

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“It is a secret hidden in plain sight: relationships are hard. Relationships bring us to the edges of endurance, mirror our tragic flaws and goodness, and offer the most fertile path to growth we know of.”

For aging couples aspiring to make the most of the final chapter of their shared lives, the authors offer their new book, Side by Side: The Sacred Art of Couples Aging with Wisdom & Love, along with a Reader’s Guide for a deeper exploration into its themes.

This book creates access to unique glimpses into thirteen stories of elder couples honestly discussing their relationships, spiritual journeys, and the realities of aging. Possibilities for enriching and enlightening their relationships are presented through many examples and suggestions for new practices.

Couples are invited to reflect on the meaning and purpose of their lives and discern how to leave a lasting legacy for those they love.

At this website, you can find extended learning opportunities for working with couples’ groups, online seminars, in-person retreats, and video clips of each couple.

Check out podcasts interviews where we’re talking about the ideas in Side by Side. We’ll post links to articles on this page too.

Below is a conversation we had with our publisher about our book journey and themes in Side by Side, ranging from vulnerability, spirituality, evening rituals, to for things about men and relationships, and more… (or view on YouTube):



In this book, we invite couples to imagine how to maximize their final years left together and explore the intersection of aging, spirituality, and relationships. It opens a rare window into the intimate, true “soul stories” versus “ego stories” of elder couples with fierce commitments to thriving and growing in their relationships. We ask the question, “What does love mean now?” that invites couples to trace the evolution of their love over time. We explore what is possible as we retire and spend more time together, re-evaluating life priorities and ways to pursue meaning, calling, purpose, legacy, and service. We address changing sexual needs, parenting with adult children, skillfully working through conflicts, and facing the inevitable losses entailed with aging. The intention of this book is marriage/couples’ enlightenment and conscious aging together with wisdom and love.

Aging Together

In Side by Side, readers discover the powerful intersection of relationships, spirituality, and aging by addressing some of the issues entailed in growing older together. The couples share their discernment practices, for this is a time of life to carefully exercise the power of choice regarding living circumstances appropriate to this age, health issues, sensitive caretaking, grief, and the loss of friends and life as we knew it.  We explore how much time to spend together, the dance of “me and we,” and the notion of “befriending the stranger” as we change in front of each other eyes. Men are called to consider their “father wounds,” and women to address their challenges as a transitional generation moving in mass into the work world. Each is invited to heal from the damage of the patriarchy and its influence on our lives. Preparing for end-of-life is addressed through the couples telling their stories of losing their parents.

Caryl and Jay
Laurie Rutenberg and Gary Schoenberg


There is an aliveness to the couples interviewed in Side by Side which the authors believe reflects their deep commitment to a shared spiritual life, each following their unique pathways and faith traditions. These interviews demonstrate how couples who share the values and practices of a spiritual foundation experience a field of mercy and a rich capacity for renewal and growth. Their relationships with the Divine serve as a Home that offers stability and safety through the many difficulties, challenges, and heartbreaks that are the common ground of committed relationships. They offer many suggestions and practices for deepening a spiritual connection with each other and with the Creator, and address themes like forgiveness and reconciliation, daily examination of where grace moves in their lives, reading spiritual books aloud to one another, and Centering Prayer or meditation, etc.


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What People Are Saying...

Side by Side is beautifully written, heartfelt, and profound. The authors traveled the country to interview older couples about their marriages. Their questions were excellent, and the couples they interviewed answered in honest, articulate, and detailed ways. The stories they tell are powerful and poignant teaching stories.

The couples were from diverse backgrounds and parts of the country, but they shared many common traits. All were spiritual seekers striving for deep and mutually satisfying relationships. Even as they said goodbye to their parents and approached their deaths, they also faced a world in crisis.

In the last chapter, the authors share their own marital struggles. I greatly respected their candor and commitment to each other.

All older people now face the loss of the world as we knew it. These stories of relationships can help us understand how to face even the greatest challenges with love, joy, and equanimity.

Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia, Women Rowing North, A Light in Life: Meditations on Impermanence 

Each couple’s soul story offers pearls of wisdom informed by age and experience. The Reader’s Guide is such a thoughtful gift to help us explore our own journey as we step together into this new phase of life.

Helen Davidson, blogger & life-story facilitator for older women at

 “We’re all just walking each other home,” said Ram Dass. Here’s a book rich with insights into how aging couples in committed relationships are making that walk in ways that help them find wholeness. For several months, Caryl and Jay Casbon traveled the country interviewing couples about the relational dance where we sometimes step on each other’s toes and sometimes sweep each other off our feet, learning how to move to the music that makes each other’s heart beat. The result is a book of honest and heartfelt conversations from which there is much to learn about the ups and downs of intimate love as a vale of soul-making.

Sharon Palmer & Parker J. Palmer, author of Let Your Life Speak and The Courage to Teach

As someone trying to nurture a marriage in mid-life, I found this book so rare, comforting, and revelatory. Finally, real couples talking about the struggles with our shadows, our family of origin conditioning, and the beast of logistics, while also painting a picture of the sacred work of showing up for someone you love, the physical closeness unlike anything else, the shared adoration for kids and community. This book helped me take the long view—a real gift at this moment in my own journey.

Courtney E. Martin, author of Learning in Public and The Examined Family newsletter

It seems like just yesterday that I was reading books on how to prepare for marriage. Then I read a pile of books to help with communication, parenting, budgeting, conflict resolution, time management … the challenges of a marriage in motion. And suddenly now, I find a beautiful book for aging couples… just what I need now. Side by Side unfolds like an adventure and leaves you with so much to think about, individually and together, and so much to live into each irreplaceable day. It even includes abundant resources to use the book in small groups. Highly recommended!

Brian D. McLaren, author of Faith After Doubt

Side by Side shows us how beautiful healing can happen when soulmates show up fully to support each other’s spiritual growth. Thanks to these wise couples, we can all learn more about walking the path of Love amidst the mundane and meaningful challenges of partnerships, aging, and simply being human.

Christine Love-MacLeod & Ainslie MacLeod, author of The Instruction and The Old Soul’s Guidebook

Side by Side shares moving stories about couples who see relationship as well as aging as paths for spiritual growth and who dance with the gifts and challenges of sacred relationship.

Heather Ensworth PhD, author of Finding our Center and co-author of From Trauma to Healing

What makes one marriage last and others fail? This book can help answer that question. The guidance and knowledge of thirteen couples tell their story and offer their age-old wisdom on how they learned to adapt and conquer obstacles that threatened to tear them apart. Side by Side: The Sacred Art of Couples Aging with Wisdom & Love is a fascinating reading experience. It made me stop and realize the problems couples face together and how they can keep their love still strong and shining bright. Caryl & Jay Casbon are two talented authors. This book showcases their talent and provides a fascinating topic to explore. There was never a moment that I found myself bored reading this book. Instead, I eagerly awaited the next chapter to discover another couple’s story. This book would make a wonderful wedding present for all young couples. The wisdom it contains could help them. 
Midwest Book Review, Suzie Housley



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Meet the Side by Side Couples

You’ll meet each of these Side by Side couples in a chapter dedicated to their story. Hover and click the hand icon over each image to read more about them. See excerpts of their video Interview here.

Jim and Marianne Houston
Steve and Faye Snyder
Harvey Bottlesen and Patsy Grace
Jim Whitney and Ruth Shagoury
Jeff and Caryl Creswell
Bobby Bellamy and Barbara Blain Bellamy
Marcy and Rick Jackson
Laurie Rutenberg and Gary Schoenberg (2) (2)
Sally Hare and Jim Rogers
Karen Noordhoff and David Hagstron
Paul and Roz Dumsnil
Anne and Tom Butler
Michael and Eileen Heaton