Last week, many readers helped out Jenny, who was struggling to find a career in today’s difficult job market. This week, I received a request for life lessons for living on a different topic: How to stay connected and manage relationships later on in life. Please share your life wisdom with Ed – what advice do you have for this couple when it comes to evaluating how to spend their social time?

Here’s Ed’s letter to me:

I want to first say that after seeing you discuss your recent book on TV, Lessons for Living” I promptly  obtained a copy, read it cover to cover, and realized by intent or just good luck that my wife of more than 60 years and I are still on our honeymoon.  We are very lucky , have had a wonderful successful family and  friends, many of whom are younger than we are. We are both 80 and are blessed by excellent health, vigor and and youthful appearances.  We look and act as if we were in our early sixties, although our three boys are in their fifties.

It is becoming difficult for us to continue a friendship with some of our contemporaries when their entire conversations seem to be focused around  their physical problems, illnesses, and subtle disapproval of  our life style, friends and family.  As a result we tend to spend time with couples who are ten to fifteen years younger than we are.

My question to you: A couple our age  with whom we have had a good friendship for more than 10 years now seems to be focused entirely on their illnesses, and criticizing our life style and interests. The husband rarely talks but the wife criticizes our life style, religious (Unitarian) background, and almost anything else that comes to her mind.  Is it wrong for us to cut gradually down on the number of encounters with this couple, because we see little likelihood of having a positive continuing relationship or should we just continue to be there for them?

Many thanks for your thoughts.

Please weigh in – what do you suggest, based on your own life wisdom?