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Dilemmas faced by many older singles, do you marry, cohabitate or remain independent?
By Tom Blake
When singles 50+ meet a new mate, and both want a future together, they need to decide what their living arrangements are going to be.
Some prefer to have a relationship but to live separately.
Maria said, “The older I get, although I’d welcome a companion in my life, I question the need to live together. I am very independent, love my house the way I like it and tend to feel any companion would be welcome to spend time at my place anytime, but not on a permanent ‘live in’ basis.
“Maintaining our own homes might change of course, and I keep in mind the need to be open to change, which depends on the richness of the relationship.”
Some choose to have a platonic companion.
Patty emailed, “I met a man on the internet over a year ago just before I had surgery and he has been there for me through my health issues. While I don’t feel a romantic connection to him, he has been a great source of support. I am honest with him that he is a terrific guy, but I just don’t feel chemistry.
“I told him that he needs to move on, but he refuses and never demands anything from me. I always pay my own way. He is still working at 68, but doesn’t make a great deal of money. I am unable to work at the present time, but have saved wisely. I feel as long as I am honest with him, then we can both enjoy a relationship based on companionship.”
Eleanor said, “I stumbled onto an excellent roommate, a nice guy who cooks and gardens. We are completely unromantic, and that is a good thing. He has a girlfriend in Marin County but he lives in Southern California because of his grandkids. I have an old flame in Georgia I see about once a year. I’ve come to a point where companionship, compatibility and my French bulldogs suit me just fine.”
Some choose to live together but not marry.
My significant other, Greta, and I are in this category. We’ve both been married more than once and don’t want to go through the unpleasantness of divorce again. Sometimes, women say to me, “Why won’t you marry Greta?” as if I am holding out on her, or it’s my fault we aren’t married. I get out my handkerchief, dab my eyes and say, “Greta won’t marry me.” That usually quiets their curiosity. The truth is, we both feel we have a wonderful relationship so why change it.
Friends of ours, Tom and Artis, who lived in Aliso Viejo before moving to Arizona, have been a couple for more than 17 years. They feel as Greta and I do. Why rock the boat when all is great?
But, as Maria stated in her comment above, people should be open to changing their minds, particularly when their situations change.
Greta’s brother Peter, and his special lady Barbara, were a co-habitating couple for 20 years. About 10 years ago, they invited their extended families to their home in Petaluma for Thanksgiving. About 50 family members attended. When Peter announced before the meal “Today, we’re having a special dessert,” no one suspected anything unusual. Later, when a wedding cake was wheeled out, there wasn’t a dry eye in the place.
Julia said, when she met Warren on Plenty of Fish—or POF.com, a free dating website—in the summer of 2011, both avowed they never wanted to marry again. Warren had been married for 40 years, divorced, then married again and divorced. Julia also had been divorced. But minds can change. They married December 2, 2011.
Some choose to get married.
Joe, a South County resident, has been a friend of mine for years. As with most older singles, Joe has had his ups and downs with relationships. He emailed: “Kathy and I got married last Saturday, in front of an arbor we have in the backyard. The minister was a friend of Kathy’s and brought her daughter to take pictures. The witness was a co-worker of Kathy’s. So, there were just five of us. This is my third marriage and Kathy’s second. I have never found anyone as good as her.”
Kaye said, “I was married for 48 years when my husband passed away. I like being in a relationship and after a year of widowhood, I went on eHarmony to meet people. I only looked at people living close to me with reportedly the same values that I had. I met a widower who came from the same place where I was born. We dated a year, lived together a year and married in May.
“I didn’t have to be married but we decided it was what we wanted.”
Barbara, Dana Point, recently told me she met and dated a man for a year, then, they were engaged for two years, and now they’ve been married for five. She said, “Later in life, it’s a good idea to know your fiancé well before tying the knot.”
So, what’s right for older singles who meet a new mate? It’s strictly their business and up to them—whatever makes them happy is what’s important.
Tom Blake is a San Clemente resident and Dana Point business owner who has authored three books on middle-aged dating. See his website at www.findingloveafter50.com. To comment, email email@example.com.