Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Married couples also need space

Married couples also need space - by Tom Blake 2013

Last week, two couples in their 70s had lunch at Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California deli. They appeared to be having a good time and enjoying themselves. When they left, one of the men lagged behind and said, "Don't you write that dating column?" I smiled and said yes.

He said he had been married 40 years and had retired a year ago. He said he didn't properly prepare for retirement and was around the house nearly all of the time. "My wife and I are driving each other crazy," he said.

And then he added, "I've got to do something that will get me out of house."

I said, "That would be a good idea. You wouldn't want to jeopardize the marriage after all of these years."

His wife poked her head back in the door and said sternly, "Harry, we're waiting for you, let's go." He looked at me and said, "See what I mean, even that bugs me."

Not an hour later, another older gentleman named Tom said, "I like reading your dating column in the newspaper, even though I've been married to my Julie for 50 years. I've been retired 20 years. Our marriage is the best it's ever been."

I said, "Tom, how do you and Julie keep your relationship so fresh?" I told him about the comments Harry had made an hour before.

Tom said that he and Julie are both very involved in outside activities. He volunteers at the Cabrillo Playhouse in San Juan Capistrano and at Habitat For Humanity. Julie volunteers at their church and is an avid quilter.

Tom said, "For a marriage to last, there are times when you need space, to be away from each other. There is nothing negative about that."

Tom's comment made me think about couples who meet later in life and say to me they either want to be or are together 24/7. That makes me shudder. That's just not going to work. They are going to smother each other and then part ways. Everybody needs space, particularly as we get older.

Carol wrote, "Every self-help book written tells us to have a life of our own, and I thank the heavens I have followed this advice."

Yvonne shed light on why married couples may be together at home so much:  

"Fewer people attend church or temple. Fewer people socialize in other ways, like the old bowling leagues of the 1950s, for instance. Fewer people even go out to go to the movies, instead preferring to watch at home on DVD. Our homes have become so comfortable that people venture out less than they used to. If we're retired, we may not be out and about in the world as much as we were when we were still working."

There is a pretty simple lesson in today's newsletter that applies to all couples--married or otherwise, and to single people as well. To be an interesting person, each person needs to have individual interests that keep them occupied. We've all got to take a break away from each other on a regular basis, and then, when we do spend time together,  we will appreciate each other more.

Space can be nearly as precious to a relationship as time spent together.

Why dating after 50 is difficult

Why dating after 50 is difficult

About 14 years ago, I was sitting in a chair on the set of the Today show, at the NBC studios in New York City, waiting for Matt Lauer to appear to interview me. Out the window, I could see a few hundred people in Rockefeller Center, waiving signs and placards. I was nervous; the show was being broadcast across the country.

When Matt sat down across from me, he said, "Why is dating after 50 so difficult?"

I smiled, hesitated and said, "Some of us haven't had a date in 30 years. We're out of practice."

Of course, there were a lot more answers to Matt's question than that one. But I had been briefed by the show's producers to keep my answers short and to follow Matt's leads.

During the course of the four-minute interview, I attempted to provide the five main reasons that make dating after 50 so difficult. After the Today show appearance, I published a book titled, "Finding Love After 50. How to Begin. Where to Go. What to Do.' Chapter One answers Matt Lauer's question.
People often contact me now with the same "Why is dating difficult" question, but they tack on to it, "after ages 60, 70 and beyond."

I referred to Chapter One of the book to prepare today's newsletter, with a little updating of course, to reflect the added years. Now, dating later in life is even more difficult. Here's why:

1.  We aren't prepared

After a long-term marriage or relationship, perhaps 30+ years, our spouse or significant other is gone. We had been preparing to spend our retirement years together. We had not been preparing to date again. But now, that's what we're faced with, and we don't know how to begin, where to go, or what to do. It's perplexing, daunting and scary.

2.  There aren't places to go where there are relatively even numbers of single men and women in our age range

One night a month, Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point, California, deli, sponsors a Meet and Greet gathering for singles age 50+ and beyond, in some cases far beyond (my good friend Dave is 92, and met a new love there and is very happy). The ratio is often four or five to one, women to men. Some new women walk in, see the excess of women, and start complaining about the lack of men. But the attendance at our event isn't much different than similar events held across the country. There just aren't places to go where the ratios are more favorable.

3. More on the dreaded ratio of women-to-men
It is a fact of life, according to the census statistics, that as we hit 60 and 70, the number of available single men decreases significantly. What can women do to overcome the lack of single men?

The best answer I've ever heard to that question came from Dr. Ruth Westheimer at an AARP convention. She said, "The ratio is a fact of life, you can't change it. However, if you put your mine to having a nice appearance, and an openness to meeting new people, and a willingness to do social things, and you're positive, you can effectively reduce the ratio."
Then she added, "Commit to having a good life, with or without a man."

4. We've aged

On the above mentioned Today show, I explained to Matt that age made dating more difficult compared to our younger years. That was 14+ years ago. Now, age is even more of a factor.  Hell, we don't have the energy we had before--and dating takes energy (and time and money). We've added wrinkles and wear and tear to our bodies. Last week, I was watching the Today show. Matt Lauer has aged just like the rest of us.

Some older singles go to bed early. The last thing they want is to be out on a date at 9 p.m. seeking love. For many, it's easier and less complicated to be curled up and reading a book at home. They may have to change their sleeping patterns or schedule their dates during the day if they choose to keep dating.

5. Compatibility--difficult to find

Robin, a friend of mine, said, "I'm finding it difficult to meet someone who doesn't have a lot of insecurities and fears in their later years. I can't seem to reassure them that I am not after their money or possessions. It's so frustrating."

As we age, we are more set in our ways. We know what we want and what works for us. We're not going to accept someone to share our life who doesn't measure up. The pool of available compatible people shrinks with each passing year.

So, yes, dating after 50, 60, and 70+ is difficult. But not impossible. At the deli Meet and Greets, one of the reasons there are so few men is that women keep capturing them and taking them away. These men tend not to come back. Why? I've asked some of them that I've seen at Costco or the hardware store.

"My new partner doesn't want me to attend anymore," is usually the gist of what they say. I wink at them and add, "Perhaps she's afraid you'll meet someone else." They smile and give me a thumbs up.

But, don't let the dreaded ratio or your age stop you from getting out and about. There's a lot of life to live--with or without a man. 

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Major developments in 2 missing persons cases

Major Developments in 2 missing persons cases

For nearly four years, there having been two, unrelated, cases of missing persons that have affected me. One--the McStay family case--was pretty close to home and personal. The other, the disappearance of Dana Point, California, yacht broker Ed Fitzgerald, with an estimated three million dollars of  money belonging to others, was more of a business-related situation, albeit one that indirectly involved me.

Both of these cases I wrote about in this newsletter--separately--between three and four years ago. There were many times during the four years when I wondered if the missing people in either case would ever be located. Now, they all have been found.

When national media outlets broke the grim news last Friday about finding the remains of the missing McStay family, many Champs contacted me, expressing condolences, which I appreciated. I promised them that I would provide updates on both cases today.

Last Friday was a difficult day for the thousands of people around the world who have followed the story of the missing McStay family, primarily on the Find the McStay family facebook page and the website. For me, it's difficult to express my thoughts on this case. But, if someone who knows someone who knows anything about what happened to the McStays, it could lead to finding the killers. 

In the late 1980s, and early 1990s, I helped raise two stepsons--Joey and Mikey McStay. Their mother Susan and I were married for six years.

On February 4, 2010, Joey, his wife Summer, and their two children, ages 4 and 3, disappeared from their North San Diego County home. They left food on the table, their beloved dogs behind, and $80,000 in the bank, so it didn't appear they left voluntarily.

However, four days later their car was found parked in a shopping center near the Mexican border. People speculated that they had left on their own. After almost three years of investigating the case, the San Diego Sheriff's department decided that's what had happened and dropped the investigation--they felt it was strictly a missing persons case.

National media featured the disappearance, including America's Most Wanted and other national shows. I wrote about the case, hoping someone might have seen the family of four.

Almost every day since, I kept hoping that I would hear the news or Joey would call me saying they were safe.  

Last Thursday night, I received a phone call from Mikey; I could tell by the sound of his voice that the news wasn't good. He said, "They're all gone." I couldn't process his words. I kept asking, "Are you sure?"

Earlier in the week, an off-road motorcyclist had noticed human bones in the San Bernardino desert near Victorville, California. He notified authorities, who found the McStay family remains in two shallow graves.

A press conference was held last Friday morning at the San Bernardino sheriff's office. The conference was broadcast across the nation. To see my former wife, Susan, and her son, Mikey, in such a state of grief tore my heart apart.

I muddled through the rest of the day unable to process the news, unable to comprehend such a terrible act. It seemed every time I turned on the radio, or the TV, or the Internet, the news regarding the discovery of the McStay family remains was featured.

Reality struck Friday at about 3:30 p.m. for me. I was pulling into a shopping center in Dana Point to have my cell phone inspected at the A.T.& T store there. On radio station KNX, Los Angeles, Scott Pelley of the CBS national evening TV news was doing a promo for his show that night. The entire two minutes was devoted to the McStay family. I thought to myself, "Oh my God, I was in this shopping center at least 25 times with Joey when we lived together." It was surreal.

Yes, I have spoken to Susan. She said, "I am numb. I never imagined this outcome. I never gave up hope. Now, there's a new focus on the case." She's a brave woman.

The case is now being investigated as a homicide by the San Bernardino sheriff and the FBI. Let's hope whoever murdered this family is brought to justice.

Missing persons case #2

Of much lesser importance to me, is the case of former yacht broker Ed Fitzgerald. He was arrested six months ago in Florida. He's been in an Orange County, California, jail since. On Tuesday, I attended the first pre-trial hearing at the courthouse in Newport Beach.

He was a deli customer of mine. When he disappeared in July, 2009, he left a trail of broken dreams and wallets. It was alleged that he owed nearly $3 million to friends and associates, many of whom I know. As a local columnist, I felt it was my duty to write an ebook about his disappearance.Dana Point Yacht Ponzi. The Ed Fitzgerald Scandal Fitzgerald Scandal.

Tuesday, when I met the prosecuting deputy District Attorney, he said, "I read your book."

From the sounds of the testimony from the first few victims, I would speculate that he will be sentenced to several years in prison.

It is ironic that after nearly four years, both of these cases are coming to a close, and had major milestones within a week of each other.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Enabling kids can damage your relationship

Last week, we touched on the subject of how children can negatively affect adult relationships. One of the responses came from Lucy (not her real name). When I first read her email, I wondered why she stays with her partner. You probably will wonder also after you read it. When I asked her that question, her answer helped me understand why. But first, her email:

Lucy wrote, "I have just become domestic partners with my live-in boyfriend of six years. I wasn't sure we would make it this far in the relationship due to the co-dependent relationship he has with his three grown children. Anything they ask for they get, almost without exception."

Point of clarification: In California, where Lucy lives, "domestic partner" is a legal designation that can provide some benefits to people living together without being married.

Lucy continued, "One example is that we are probably going to have to sell our home, the home we planned on retiring in, because when his daughter needed money for college she did not want to get student loans so he borrowed the money and gave it to her. We are now in debt to the point where we will most likely lose our home. I can understand helping your children pay for college but he is a high school teacher and I am employed part time. 

"His 23-year-old son lives with us three days a week. He lives with his girlfriend four days a week 70 miles away. He lives with us because he likes the community college up here. He is only taking two classes and we pay for everything. His food, gas while he is here, medical etc. He is even driving one of our cars. Yesterday, he came to us and asked us to give him money for when he visits his girlfriend! I suggested, gently, that he look for a community college closer to his primary residence and his dad suggested he get a job since he is only going to school part time. His response, I don't want to. The outcome, my domestic partner is giving him 50 dollars a month. 

"We have had one of his daughters spoil a vacation that we were on in Mendocino (a small city on the Northern California coast) by telling us, after only one day, that we had to drive her back because she had missed so many classes she was going to flunk her Italian class if she wasn't there the next day. No mention of this when we planned the vacation. Why she even came is beyond me. And yes, after a big argument we drove her back. She has forced us to cancel family dinners in other cities because she suddenly remembers other plans. And he always does what she asks.

"He has cancelled dates to give his kids rides places at the last minute, His children have used our credit cards fraudulently. He once asked me to let his daughter throw a party at our house when I had pneumonia and strep. I said no. 

"I know he loves his children and luckily only the one lives with us now, and that is only part time. So it has become easier. I like his children as people but he and his ex have raised them to be spoiled. I blame them not the kids. I have to admit that it seems to be getting a little better but I do not feel comfortable giving him money when I know it just goes straight to his kids.

"So, I am torn. I have a considerable amount saved up that I could put down on the mortgage, which is still only in his name. But I won't as long as he won't tell his kids no."

A few days ago, she wrote: "I am at dinner with his daughter where she is asking him to pay her sorority dues of 350 dollars a semester and buy her a car for college. She goes to school in San Francisco. The city with the best public transportation in California. I should know, I went to college here

I responded, "Why did you enter into a legal domestic partnership when there are the issues you describe? You must really love him. It must bug you that his co-dependency with the kids goes on as you described." 

She said, " I am in love with him and he says he wants to take care of me. Plus, I need his medical. I have two heart conditions and have had two breast cancer scares in the last two years. When you have no medical they tell you to go home and wait for six months to see if it grows. If you have medical, they do a biopsy. That is the truth in our country. 

"The first lump I had medical and they did a biopsy the next day. The last one, a month ago, they found a lump and a shadow on my Xray and sent me home."

I suggested: "Don't start dipping into your savings. You might lose it. I know of relationships where that has happened."

When parents continuously enable their kids, it doesn't teach them to be on their own. And that can put stress on a relationship.

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Kids and grand kids: Are they ruining your relationships

In going through previous newsletters, I came upon this situation regarding how children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren can affect a relationship. I mention this because lately, I’ve been hearing stories on how children are making life difficult for older singles wanting to have relationships, and possibly remarry.

A woman who was raising her great granddaughter wanted to know why men wouldn’t date her.

A Champ named John shed light on her question: “I was in a long-term relationship with a grandma. I had known her in high school and met her years later at a class reunion after we were both divorced. She lived three hours away, but we managed to see each other every other weekend. 

“The attributes (compassion, caring and duty to others) that drew me to her eventually killed the relationship because of her grandchildren. 

“Her son and daughter-in-law had four children over the period of seven years. They were terrible parents. Out of compassion for the children, my friend became more and more their parent. The daughter-in-law didn't work, but my friend did and took much better care of the kids. She stopped there almost every night after work and eventually three of them were with her every weekend. 

“I didn't mind playing with the kids and helping to care for them, but eventually I felt squeezed out of my friend's attention. I lost the motivation to drive the 3 hours and eventually broke up with her. It hurt both of us.

“She was probably doing the right thing for the kids given the awful situation they were in, but it left no room for a relationship. If things had been reversed, I can't say that I wouldn't have done the same. If things had been different, we probably would be married today. 

“We all make choices that have positive and negative consequences - like two sides of a coin. Her love and caring for her granddaughter will be rewarded, but unfortunately she will probably not find a man who wants a close relationship.”

Keep this story in mind when mixing your offspring in with your relationship.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Widows: Hold on to that pension

Widows: Hold on to that pension

The majority of widows and widowers loved being married. Many of them want to recapture a similar happiness and security by remarrying, but would lose a spouse's pension and sometimes--health insurance-- by doing so. I tell them not to remarry if they will lose those benefits.

Carolyn, a widow of three years, understands the importance of protecting her deceased husband's pension, and she plans to marry. She is being wise by waiting to marry until December, 2015, when she will not lose the pension.

That restriction also ensures she will take the new relationship at a slow pace, which she feels is wise.  

Carolyn said, "I was widowed in March, 2010. My husband of 30 years died from ALS (Amyotrophic later Sclerosis or Lou Gehrig's disease).

"Our marriage wasn't as good as it could have been; although we loved each other very much. After he died in 2010, I spent the first year adjusting and not seeking any new relationship.

"The death was quite a relief since the final struggle had been so enormous. I grieved like an hour glass, with a little bit of sand going through the neck of the bottle each day. When it was over, I was able to move on. Most of my crying was done beforehand."

Her husband was an enlightened man

Carolyn said, "After the first year, I started thinking about a new relationship. My husband was supportive of me seeking a new relationship and told our boys, 'Your Mother will some day be with someone else. I want her to find a new man. Please be supportive of her when she finds someone.'

"I am turning 55  in a few days. When I determined readiness for the dating scene in 2011, I tried the online dating scene. None of the start-up communications were satisfactory.

"After feeling discouraged about the online prospects, I looked around. There was a man at my church that I had been aware of for some time. He and I started attending a weekly church meal event. After six months we started dating.

"Several of the couples from this group helped us connect at these gatherings. I am in love with him. We have been dating for a year and a half. We have been on an international trip together, as well as two USA trips. He was dumped twice by previous gals for completely odd reasons.

"Although I loved my husband dearly, there were some aspects to the relationship that were very challenging and difficult. My new friend and I both have had difficult relationships that allow us to connect in a way that is healthy for both of us. We allow each other to bring up past difficulties with no judgment or comparison to our new relationship.

"I receive a government pension that does not allow me to remarry before age 57. It is a good thing that I am already almost 55, right? I only have two more years to go. We are maintaining separate households, I still have one child at home. He has a brother living with him. We have determined that we will either sell my house or rent it out in a couple of years. We will move into his house (he has the better home).

"I am delighted to have found my match! I would advise people to try the different avenues available for dating, but look around you to see who may be in your immediate path. Waiting has allowed us to take our time with family getting used to the idea. We plan to marry in December, 2015. For now, lots of happy dates while we wait."

Carolyn added, "The brother knows he will be moving out in December, 2015."

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Rebuilding trust after getting dumped

Rebuilding trust after being dumped takes time

by Tom Blake

For people age 50-plus, building trust again is one of the hardest things to do after getting unexpectedly dumped. However, if there ever was a blueprint on how to rebuild trust, today's story is a good one to follow.

Trent was happily married for seven years--so he thought. Then, his wife reconnected on Facebook with a high school boyfriend and moved to Virginia to be with the old flame. Trent said, "She took my money, car, and a majority of the belongings in the house while I was out of town."

I can relate to Trent's situation. A similar experience happened to me in Dana Point, California, on Christmas Eve in 1993, when my wife of six years cleaned out the house and moved out of my life. There was no way, I thought at the time, that I could ever trust another woman.

Trent spent many sad months filled with loneliness and deep issues of feeling abandoned. He also thought he could not trust again.

He stated, "I slowly began to understand  that it is through trials in life that we do most of our growing and changing for the better. Through this process of refinement, I gained hope that love might enter my world.

"After taking time to heal and grieve, I decided I was partially to blame for my failed marriage. I began attending classes for singles and eventually went to some dances and began making single friends so that I was not sitting at home each week with my dog."

Trent's comment about his dog made me laugh. The first newspaper column I wrote 18 years ago after my wife left was titled, "Home alone with only my dogs for company." Thank heavens for pets.

Trent continued: "As I began dating, I took it slow, with little or no expectation. I looked for a woman who was kind, of low drama, who knew who she was. Someone who had a good family with strong parents and siblings with stable lives. Someone who was emotionally and financially independent. Someone with shared values and interests. A woman's mind, when used properly, is a much sexier thing than her curves.

"Eventually, I met a woman online who lived in southern California. I lived in Utah. After several dates with her, I shared most of my past problems and brought out the skeletons for her to see. I wanted her to know that I was not perfect and that I had been deeply hurt but that I was open to loving and trying again.

"Long distance relationships don't work without considerable investment of time and expense. I had frequent flyer miles or drove one way and caught cheap flights home using three-week-in-advance fares. We dated six months before becoming exclusive and courted seriously another three. We were engaged four months later.

"I did not want to invest myself emotionally with someone who could not handle the real me and my past. She did the same and we both ended up having a much deeper connection from that point forward. You have to risk being hurt and trusting again to find true love.

"I believe you need a year or two of dating and being in many day-to-day, real world situations to see a person in their true light. Be with them in their homes, on trips, camping and with no makeup. Be with them after a long day working, when they are in financial or emotional distress. See them when they are having kid issues, health issues and also let them care for you as you struggle with sickness or pain. We did all those things."

Trent married September 6. Because Trent and his new bride lived in different states, they had to decide who would move.

He said, "During our courtship, we discussed living arrangements and since my kids are grown and gone, and she still has two at home, we decided that I would  move. I put my home on the market, packed a moving truck, and moved from Utah to San Diego. I have been here a little over a month and things are settling in and wonderful."

Trent shared another aspect that he felt important in building trust:  "Despite becoming very close physically, we chose to not sleep together until we got married. It may seem old-fashioned but we made a decision to not have it be about personal gratification all of the time, but about companionship first. It worked out well with a lot less complication and huge amounts of trust between us."

"Isn't that what single and widowed people want most? Someone who has our backs? Someone we can trust and confide in? I have to pinch myself every day to think how sad and miserable I felt and how different my life is now, two years later. My message: don't give up. Ever!"

I asked Trent about the difficulty of not having sex until marriage. He said, "I was truly missing it but sex always complicates things whether you are 16 or 60." Trent made me feel better when he added, "The wedding and honeymoon were both devine."

Regarding the acceptance by the children of both families, Trent said, "Life moves on and kids are resilient, but for sure, it took a lot of talking and listening."

Trent said he and his wife have chosen to keep their assets separate. They share expenses, and both still work.

Similar to Trent and his situation, when I met my life partner Greta, I was able to trust again; we've spent 15 glorious and fortunate years together. Let's wish equal success for Trent and his bride.  

What have been your experiences involving losing trust?

                                                              Trent and wife

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

A widower does it right

                                  A widower does it right

Today's newsletter is a positive story about John who got the dating thing right after his wife of 40 years passed away. He was 63. He grieved and healed for three years before trying to date. John's story is filled with sage advice for any person who has been deeply involved in a relationship and then loses their mate.

Toward the end of the column, I respond to John's letter to me.

John said, "My wife died on Valentine's Day 2010 of a sudden, massive heart attack. We had just finished lunch and I was changing the bed sheets. We had been married 40 years. I became a lost soul and for three years slowly healed. I did not date and made no attempts to socialize other than with family and a few close friends. Other than work my only outside activity was golf twice a week in a men's league.

"Reading your weekly newsletter became part of my healing process and I looked forward to Friday's email. Since I was afraid, yes afraid, to venture out in person, I thought I would try an online service to get my toes wet. I wasn't very serious about this but I wanted to have a face-to-face conversation with a single woman to see what someone else's experience was like.
"I joined Senior Match (I was 66 at the time) in March of this year. After looking at profiles and sending a few emails, I saw Valerie's profile after she had looked at mine. We had many similar interests including movies, music and intellectual curiosity. Her profile was not syrupy but straightforward as was mine. And we are both Catholics which I preferred.
"She lived 90 miles away. The distance factor was a hedge for me. I wanted to meet but I figured it would allow for an easy out. Now it just makes for a longer way to travel for a date. We agreed to meet at the school where she teaches and I took her for a late lunch. We talked for two hours and we exchanged phone numbers. Then we walked and talked for another hour.
"The following week we went to Mass at her church, had breakfast and saw a movie. We have been dating steadily ever since. She met my sisters-in-law and two nephews at a Memorial Day bar-b-que at the club where I live, and my sister and my two sons on the 4th of July weekend. We did Disney with my oldest son and my four-year-old grandson that weekend and on the way back talked quite a bit about the future.
"We began to spend weekends together (separate rooms) to discover the little things about each other that can make or break a relationship. We discussed these topics at great length. We both wanted marriage but wanted to be sure. I was.
"Valerie, 63 (in November), (four years younger), is attractive and intelligent and has a great smile but what really won me over was her attention to little details in a positive manner. For my part, I tried to demonstrate that I would always be there for her and with her. We went to Naples, Florida, for a long weekend for my birthday in September and decided we were ready to commit to each other. Valerie and I are engaged to be married; we just bought the engagement ring.

"When I started this process I made a pledge never to compare Valerie to my deceased wife. It wouldn't be fair and most likely would have been toxic. I have stuck to that. My first marriage was wonderful and will always be wonderful but this marriage will also be wonderful. I told Valerie that my goal is to celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary together and then add to it. We plan to wed either at the end of December or early next year.

Thank you for all the positive information you have provided with your newsletter and I continue to look forward to Friday's email.

Tom's reply to John: Wow! You are an incredible man. What a beautiful email. It made me feel that the effort I have put into the newsletters and newspaper columns over 18 years has been worthwhile. I never know if my messages are meaningful to readers; you made me feel that at least some of them are. 

You did it right. By right, I mean you honored your deceased wife by healing for three years. Your sentence, "My first marriage was wonderful and will always be wonderful..." actually makes it possible for you to move forward with Valerie with an open mind and clear conscious. Your pledge to never compare Valerie to your wife is wisdom that all widowed people and others who have lost a loved one should learn from.

Just yesterday at Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point deli, a widower named Fred said almost the identical thing regarding his deceased wife--he still loves her and misses her--but he also loves and cares a great deal about a new woman in his life. He is comfortable being in a new relationship. He said doing things with someone you care about is so much better than doing the same things alone.

You and Valerie took it slowly. A very wise thing. You both intelligently communicated in great detail about your relationship. Even the separate rooms on weekends together showed restraint (I could not do that I admit).

Your similar interests, religion, and wants and needs make you two a perfect fit.

And the 90 miles of separation didn't deter you one bit. Long-distance relationships often don't work because both parties are not motivated enough or not committed enough to make it work.

Good luck with the wedding. I am sure you and Valerie will communicate thoroughly about that as well (her attention-to-detail will be put to use).
John replied: "I have saved every newsletter since I began receiving them and frequently go back and re-read some of them. I also forward them to my sister-in-law who lost her husband in 2010. She is reluctant to sign up herself. I believe your newsletter has touched many more people than you know of but who do not write you.  My only suggestion to the Champs would be to have a lot of patience and pay close attention to the little things. The romantic stuff sounds nice but small details can tell you if the relationship can work. Keep up the wonderful work."

                                                              Valerie & John

Friday, October 11, 2013

12 opinions on why dates disappear

                             On Life and Love After 50 Newsletter 

Starting today, Friday, October 11, 2013, Tom Blake's weekly newsletter will be posted in this blog. It seems that many of Tom's Champs--the people who have signed up for the newsletter--are not receiving the emailed copy, most likely because of the email filters on many servers. So, we shall make the newsletter available here.
You can add comments at the end of the post.
                         A dozen opinions on why dates disappear

Last week we featured Laura, who wondered why a guy she met on showed "genuine interest" in her--disappeared after three dates. She had hoped to get opinions from our Champs and you delivered. Here's what six men and six women said.

Wayne begins with astute comments, "There are many reasons both men and women (the door swings both ways) disappear. It may be something as simple as not connecting or an inability to understand and accept the responsibility of a healthy relationship.

"Some people are simply not very good at relationships or unable to make good choices for a companion. One common denominator is good manners. There is never a good reason for bad behavior. Men or women can be jerks at any age.. it's not limited to seniors!

"Even though it was painful at the time, Laura should be thankful the relationship ended early before she was invested more deeply emotionally and sexually.

"Be patient.. identify clearly the qualities you want in a relationship including what you have to offer.  Be realistic... if you are a "5" don't set your sights on a "10". Above all look for someone who is kind, treats you and others with respect and wants to be a good friend. All relationships get tested.. those based on sincere friendship have a chance to go the distance."

India said, "Sometimes these jerks are married and testing the waters. They may get caught or just cold feet and take the easy way out."

Ken said, "I don't like confrontation with women. I prefer to just fade away instead of arguing over why I don't want to date her again."

Adding to what Ken said, Dianne shared, "Men disappear when they aren't interested, and lie when women they are trying to dump run them down and corner them. Men generally do not enjoy 'relationship' conversations about what isn't working. It's like on the East coast where people are always saying, 'We'll have to get together for dinner' ... and don't."

Lawrence, "My guess is Laura's man bailed because she wouldn't sleep with him. Many people (not me) go by the Three-Date Rule."

Judie said, "Most logical reason he disappeared: He's just not  that into her."   

Jon wrote, "People disappear for a lot of reasons, some of them hard to understand except for the one who takes off. Often it has nothing to do with the one who is left."

Joanne said, "They haven't matured enough to be honest and don't know how else to exit. You are better off without them."

Terry stated, "It's difficult to tell a woman you have no interest. It hurts her feelings."

Gloria shared, "I've had the same experience so many times I could write a book on it. Lot of excuses from men. Don't spend your days wondering why a man disappeared."

Chris offered a male point-of-view, "This guy was looking for a quick score and when he realized it was going to take longer than he was willing to wait, he bailed. These jerks are looking for notches in their belt, nothing more. She was smart to hold off. She would have just become another notch."

Mindy ends today's discussion with sound advice for Laura, "They disappear because they aren't interested. Why? A thousand reasons. None matter. Move on."
                      End of the main newsletter for October 11, 2013


In section 2 of the newsletter today, Tom is asking readers for a small favor, if they are so inclined. Participation is strictly optional. For the last four years, his Dana Point, California, deli, Tutor and Spunky's, has won the prestigious "Best Sandwich" award in the Dana Point Times newspaper lantern awards voting. Winning the award helps Tom's deli in marketing and promotion. He'd like to ensure Tutor and Spunky's wins for the 5th straight year.

Follow this link:  Look for the yellow vote box in the right hand column near the top of the home page. Click on the yellow box, continue to the page where you enter name, email address and age. Hit continue. Find the "Best Sandwich" category and enter Tutor and Spunky's Deli. Click at the end of the survey on "finish." If you'd vote for "Best Overall Customer Service" on the top of the finish page, we'd love it. It's easy as pie and I appreciate it.

Tom Blake

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New widowers: proceed slowly when introducing mom's replacement

New widowers: proceed slowly when introducing mom's replacement

Last week, Tony, a 60-year-old widower of about six months, asked for an opinion about informing the stepsons he helped raise, that he wants to bring a new companion to family holiday functions this year.

Tony said, almost defiantly, "I don't want to give control of my remaining life to my stepsons…"

He put his question before this forum, which consists of nearly 2,000 Champs, and, as Champs always do, they responded resoundingly with sage advice.

Let me say this upfront. New widowers are special people, good people, loyal. Most were devoted husbands for multiple years. They are facing a jolt that is hard to deal with. Not all of them try to date too soon; heck, many of them never date again. Tony is a good man. He's concerned about his stepsons' and step grandsons' feelings. He's just trying to curb his loneliness.

Here's what the Champs said about his wanting to bring a new person to this year's family holiday functions.  

Deborah said, "I dated a widower last year. NOT a good idea. I was so excited because he was such a great man. Yet, it all fell apart 10 months later because he wasn't ready."

Karla emailed, "I'd be uncomfortable going to family holiday events with a recently widowed man. I'd prefer a quiet breakfast or lunch before he goes to be with his family. That would show he cares enough to be with me for part of the day."

Ann Marie stated, "As a widow, I advise Tony to not even ask his stepsons at this point. Those first holidays are so difficult for families and should be spent with families, with memories remembered and love shared.   

"To bring someone else into a family at this early stage is to deny the family (and, Tony himself,) this occasion of celebration and healing.  He would be doing a disservice to himself and to the family, and I can guarantee that feelings would be irreparably damaged even if the stepsons agreed."

Marsi said: "It has not been a year of grieving for him or the family, so I feel it is a little too soon and the family may feel it is disrespectful to their mother's memory. To bring a date just for the sake of not being alone for the day, I would pass. It won't hurt him to go alone for one function. If the relationship progresses, the following year would be more appropriate."

Ann shared, "I became a widow several years ago and can look back and recall how I felt. It is still very early in his healing process. The first-year holidays are highly emotional. The family is grieving for at least a year, also.

"Bringing a new woman into the family will be very awkward at best and could create a lasting rift in the family. I know because I made the mistake. My family did their best to be polite, even gracious. Of course, my friend was equally uncomfortable. My reaction was completely unexpected. 

"I wouldn't want to live through that day, or the days following, again. Emotions are still very tender, but given time, we gain equilibrium. My friend and I eventually found that we weren't compatible"

Two men chimed in

Chris, "Tony should give it more time before bringing a new lady to the coming holiday functions. The stepchildren and grandchildren are going to spend their first holiday season without their mother and grandmother, respectively. This is a particularly hard time. To suddenly have a new lady taking her place will not go down well. He should go it alone this time and not mention it to them. Next year it will be easier.

Joel added: "She may not be in your life very long. It's a good idea to wait quite a while until you find your way through the thicket. This woman seems great now but the likelihood the first one or two will be permanent is slim. You will be faced with explaining why you show up with someone different, questions from parents about how this looks to children, etc."

Three more women's opinions

Patricia, "Better to take the time to heal before introducing a new woman into his still grieving family or he will lose the stepson's families as well. They are not ready for this and neither is he!"  

Julie, a widow, added, "it is too soon to bring someone else to the family holiday events. Take time for the family to heal and grieve together; develop new traditions; bond in a new way.

"If this new companion cares about him, she will graciously allow him time alone with his family. If not - red flag!"

Mindy, however, felt otherwise, "You would think adult children would have compassion for the living parent. Tony mentioned bringing a companion, not a fiancé! He has found some comfort in this new woman, that his stepsons cannot provide. We cannot predict down the road whether this relationship hits the brakes, but the bottom line is that this is his life, his decision, and the adult kids need to deal with it!"

In summary, while it's a good thing that our Champs don't always agree on issues, 90 percent of them quoted today feel it's not a wise idea for this new widower to bring a woman to the first-year holiday functions. I agree. New widowers need to realize that the families are grieving as much as they are, and the widowers should be considerate of those family members.

It should be noted as well, that these Champs are not saying Tony should not date; they are merely saying he should not expose a new woman so soon to the family he loves.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Widower's Dilemma: Asking kids re: bringing a new woman to family holiday functions

Widower's dilemma: bringing a new woman to family holiday functions

Tony, "I'm a 60-year-old widower, my wife died in early 2013. We were married for 30-plus years, our marriage was incredibly blessed.  I'm a better person due to my late wife.

"We raised her two sons from a prior marriage. My step sons are now in their 40's. We did not have additional children from our marriage. We (I) have three grandchildren, 10-12-14. All are healthy and normal for their age. A grand child is named after me.

"I'm now dating. I'm planning to ask my step sons if I can bring a companion to family holiday functions. I'm not asking for an immediate response from them, knowing they need time to consider.

"I'll honor their response, I won't make threats if they deny my request. I don't want to give control of my remaining life to my step sons, however I realize the complex task the parents have to discuss the subject with the grand children.

"How should I handle the sensitive issue?"

Tom's response to Tony: "You are right, this is a sensitive issue. Kudos to you for being considerate of your stepsons and step grandchildren.

"I am not a widower so by no means am I an expert on this topic. But in 18 years of writing about dating later in life, I've heard enough stories from new widowers and the women who have dated them to gain some knowledge on the issue.

"You've got some time before the holidays. Why not hold off just a little while before asking them? Yes, you want to be in control of your decisions, but, on the other hand, you certainly don't want to alienate the family you have loved and raised for more than 30 years. Over the holidays, especially this first holiday season, being with them will be essential for you.

 "Have you met someone already that you have in mind? Is she putting pressure on you to include her in this year's family holiday functions?

"What I'm about to say may not apply to you, but it often applies to new widowers. Also, many new widowers can be very, very stubborn. They won't listen to the advice of friends and family.

"Many jump back into dating before they've properly healed. They miss their spouses so much it's almost unbearable.  Some are so darned lonely that they feel dating and having a new mate will cure their loneliness.

"But, what often happens is, they wake up one morning and realize that they can't go on with the new relationship, that they've been kidding themselves and still love their deceased wife. They end the relationship, and in doing so, break some woman's heart.

"Without knowing more, I can't be sure of what your situation is. Perhaps you wife was ill for a long time and your grieving period started long before she passed, which might make you more ready to have a new relationship. More details from you would help.

"I send out an email newsletter each Friday titled "On Life and Love After 50." More than 1,000 people read it each week and send in their comments. Many are widowed people who have experienced the loss of a spouse. Sharing your story with them would bring lots of objective comments.

"I have written an eBook titled, "Widower Dating. Gold mine or mine field?". You can download it immediately to your computer for less than five bucks to gain some insight of what others have gone through. Here is the link to that book: 


"A major issue in senior dating, particularly for widowed people, is the involvement of children and children's acceptance of a new person in that widowed person's life. However, your question, in my opinion, is more than just about gaining acceptance from your stepsons and grand stepsons.

"Again, more information would be helpful. Thanks for having the courage to write."