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“Beautifully written, heartfelt, and profound.”—Mary Pipher, author of A Life in Light and Women Rowing North
What keeps a marriage evolving and thriving, especially in the final season of life? That question prompted a road trip to interview old-soul couples about the truth behind committed relationships. With Side by Side: The Sacred Art of Couples Aging with Wisdom & Love, Caryl & Jay Casbon give us an insightful collection of real-life teaching stories and practices proving it’s never too late to love more deeply. Read more
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Caryl & Jay Casbon met at Lewis & Clark College in 1995. Their shared life of common passions includes interfaith studies, learning, story, pilgrimage, travel, and family. Caryl devotes her time to writing, ministry, spiritual direction, and creating spaces for inner work. Jay’s lifelong professional journey has focused on higher education, leadership, research, and religious art history. Both are Circle of Trust® facilitators prepared by the Center for Courage & Renewal. They offer extended learning opportunities for working with couples’ groups, online seminars, and in-person retreats. Married since 2001, the Casbons live in Santa Barbara, California. Visit www.SideBySideAging.com.
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 parents and approached their own 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 marriages can help us understand how to face even the greatest challenges with love, joy, and equanimity.
—Mary Pipher, author of A Life in Light and Women Rowing North
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
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
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
Each couple’s soul story offers pearls of wisdom informed by age and experience. The Readers’ 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 AgelessPossibilities.org
As an Episcopal priest, I frequently work with couples preparing to be married. Their focus is, understandably, on the upcoming wedding and the beginnings of their new life together. Although Side by Side focuses on aging couples, still the wisdom of this book, and the stories shared, offer so much for couples at any stage in their relationship, even those just beginning their marriage journey. Embracing the adage, “begin as you mean to go on,” Side by Side should become required reading for every new couple I meet with.
—The Rev. Elizabeth Molitors, Rector, Trinity Episcopal Church, Santa Barbara, California
The Casbons show 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
About the Book
A Pre-Pandemic Road Trip Became a Roadmap
to Love, Aging, Spirituality in Modern Marriages
What keeps a marriage evolving and thriving, especially in the final season of life? That question prompted a road trip to interview old-soul couples about the truth behind committed relationships. With Side by Side: The Sacred Art of Couples Aging with Wisdom & Love, Caryl & Jay Casbon give us an insightful collection of real-life teaching stories and practices proving it’s never too late to love more deeply.
Let’s face it. Marriage and committed relationships are complex. So is aging! If you’ve ever wanted a roadmap to help you find your way, look no further. Beyond wooing or weddings, embracing wonder and woes, with a dash of wit thrown in, these Side by Side couples take their vows seriously by practicing the most important W word of all: Wholeness.
Wholeness allows for the range of messy, mundane, and magnificent challenges that come with being humans in love. Surprising or not, what helps immensely is a shared spiritual foundation, inner work practices, and a growth mindset, but how do you get there together?
Unapologetically spiritual and refreshing, Side By Side demystifies shared introspection and supports truth-telling about the hard stuff while bringing in the spirit of grace, mercy, and kindness. A reader’s guide offers nearly 200 questions and practices that create a safe space for reflection and trustworthy conversations among couples or small groups.
For anyone curious about mature, abiding love, Side by Side explores:
- How can we make the most of our remaining years?
- What does love mean now, at this seasoned age?
- How do we work with the tension of “me” and “we?”
- How do we practice mutuality to support each other in body, mind, and spirit?
- How can we offer a beneficial presence to our troubled world?
- When one of us dies first, how will the survivor live on and thrive?
Side by Side is a profound book for modern marriages and partnerships gleaned from the hard-won wisdom of elder couples who’ve learned to do love differently than previous generations. Their experiences show couples of any age how to bring deeper love, self-awareness, and growth into their relationship.
Does any marriage really work? Is marriage even worth the effort? 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. The featured couples share how they move through this inner landscape and remain closer than ever.Side by Side reveals the sacred art of co-creating deep love, secrets we can all learn if we have the courage to engage in heart-opening conversations.