Side by Side: The Sacred Art Of Relationship For Aging Couples

Section One: The Sacrament of Marriage: Weaving Webs of Tests & Trust

Chapter One: Laurie Rutenburg & Gary Schoenberg
Chapter Two: Patsy Grace & Harvey Bottelsen
Chapter Three: Tom & Ann Butler

Section Two: Improvisation with the Materials at Hand:
Servant Leadership Closer to Home

Chapter Four: Marianne and Jim Houston
Chapter Five: Steve and Faye Snyder
Chapter Six: Jeff and Caryl Creswell
Chapter Seven: Michael and Eileen Heaton

Section Three: From Patriarchy to Mutuality

Chapter Eight: Sally Hare and Jim Rogers
Chapter Nine: Rick and Marcy Jackson
Chapter Ten: Paul and Roz Dumesnil
Chapter Eleven: Karen Noordhoff and David Hagstrom

Section Four: Beneficial Presence

Chapter Twelve: Bobby Bellamy & Barbara Blain-Bellamy
Chapter Thirteen: Debby Ofstedahl and Wendy Mc Call
Chapter Fourteen: Ruth Shagoury and Jim Whitney


“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.”

“Anything that gets in the way of love is spiritual work.”

“It is a rare privilege to have access to another couple’s life. Couples are seldom witnessed; following the fanfare of the wedding, they retreat to the privacy of their homes, mostly sheltered from other’s gazes.”

“The experience of aging, as well as intimate relationships, belong to the geography of the soul.”

“What does love mean now, at this age? How much time together is a good thing? How do we honor our natural leanings towards more solitude, interiority, and spiritual growth? What can we give back to our troubled world? Who will die first, and how will the survivor bear it? How can we make the most out of these remaining years?”

“…retirement doesn’t mean that your soul’s callings fall silent. Instead, it is an invitation to re-formation, allowing one’s old life to die and inviting in new priorities. Now free from “making a living,” we began to consider “making a life.”

“The heart for kindness and service is fundamental in relationships. So essential are the many small acts of kindness they become the very glue of an affectionate marriage.”

“No one in this study claimed to fear their own death. Many recounted mystical experiences while accompanying others in dying, and view death as a “thin place,” inextricably connected to birth, both natural and necessary.”

“We know deep within that we are only fully human when we learn to love another human being.”