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 OurTime.com--who 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: www.danapointtimes.com.  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