Thursday, June 26, 2014

Staying married only for health insurance and survivor benefits

Staying married only for health insurance and survivor benefits

Part one: Cindi's email

"I have been married for 34 years to the man who can't commit and has never prioritized me in our relationship. He finally left me at 66. His true passion is airplanes. He also loves lots of gadgets and inanimate objects like cars, trains, electronics, etc.

"I've stuck it out hoping in his next phase of life, he would become more human and learn to love and value the people in his life. It never happened. Next month, he will be 70.

"We are remaining married because if he passes first, I am the beneficiary of his "Survivor Benefits" from his long-term job. That is the only reason I am staying married.

"I have struggled with chronic pain for 25 years and he never went to a doctor appointment with me. Of course, I needed his insurance benefits and a little bit of his help around the house (which used to be very large). The past 10 years, he has become more and more distant. His weekends have consisted of doing whatever he wants without any thought or consideration of me. I still have ties and many memories with him even though we never had a child together.

"My two children have both passed away. I see one of his daughters but both of us are disconnected from his second daughter. Occasionally, we meet to celebrate an event with one of his four grandchildren. He includes me in nothing social in his life, yet he wants to attend all events with my family such as weddings or holidays. My family graciously includes him, not understanding the situation, but neither do I. I must put an end to his intrusion into my family events.

"Over the past ten years, I have lost him and don't feel like I have a partner on any level. Life is getting shorter and even though it seems like a long shot to ever meet anyone again, I would love to have a companion. I am not available for marriage, but I would love the experience of caring for someone and having him care about me.

"Is it wrong to go on dating sites while still married? I realize other people lie, but I don't much want any relationship based on lies. I am a little overweight, but still keep myself up and my chronic pain is not visible to the naked eye.

"Do you have any suggestions for how I can help myself to be the happiest I can be for the rest of my days on this earth?"

Part two: Tom's reply

Staying married to get his health insurance and survivor benefits has carried quite a price tag with it. What if you die first? Will it have been worth it?

If you put an end to his intrusion into your family events, could he put an end to your survivor benefits? If so, be careful getting him mad. If he discovers you are dating, he might divorce you and then you would lose the benefits you have. 

"I understand that you long to have a companion. But, is it wrong to go on dating sites while still married? Yes, and it's a bad idea. If you are honest about your situation, no man will want to date a married woman. If you lie about your situation, you are deceiving the men and 
when they find out, they will drop you like a hot potato. Then, it's back to square one.

Also (I am not trying to be mean or critical when I say the following, just realistic), ask yourself, "What do I bring to the table? What can I, a married woman with lots of baggage, offer to a man that will benefit him?" 

What does being a little overweight mean?  Older singles want people who are fit and not overweight. I suggest implementing a health program to help you lose weight and get in shape. You will be happier with yourself.

I also suggest you get out and socialize and make new friends. By doing so, you might meet a man who seeks only a companion also.

A great way to meet new people is to check out Find Meetups close to where you live that interest you, and attend some meetings and make new friends. Your happiness has to come from within yourself. You spent nearly 40 years tolerating an unhappy relationship. To reverse that trend now will be a huge challenge. But you can do it.
Part three: Cindi's reply

"You may share my story. Other's comments could not be more painful than my own realization of how I have compromised myself.

"I do have to say, on my behalf, that I was unable to work due to my physical condition which also contributed to my added weight. Plus, I needed to have money to live on and I needed the ability to seek medical assistance. Those two facts contributed to my staying with him.

"From age 34 to age 52, I went through the hell of having a child addicted to drugs on a major scale. I was quite distracted from my marriage during those years of watching my second and only living child destroy herself--while I tried everything humanly possible to help her--only to have her die in the end.

"Without any living children of my own, I only had my husband's children and grandchildren. I so wanted grandchildren! I was there when these step-grandchildren were born and they seemed like my own. I feared they would disappear, too, if I divorced my husband.

"I recently joined a gym and hired a trainer and am on a quest to eat healthier and exercise more like I used to before my foot pain became so overwhelming. I realize my pain is my problem. It is very fatiguing, however, and sometimes I so badly just want to give up. 

"My husband wasn't interested in any of our five pets, which is mostly wonderful for me because even though they are work, they give me a lot in return and keep me going.

"I have fixed up my new backyard very nicely and yesterday, I had a neighborhood party to try to get to know my new neighbors better. The party was a huge success and I did bond with some other neighbors while three of my wonderful girlfriends came to help me by setting up, making margaritas and food, and contributing in general. They had a great time, too.

"Does have any men in it? From what I've seen, it looks like all women. Don't get me wrong; I love women and who couldn't use more female friends? I just need to be realistic about what it is."

Part four: Left blank for the Champs to comment on Cindi's situation. 

Reply by email to me at 

Have a good week-end.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Part 2 - Walking away from someone you love: Four lessons learned

Revisiting walking away from love: Four lessons learned

Last week we wrote about Cheryl, age 63, who has dated a widower for two years. She said, “I love him dearly.” But he’s told her he will never live with her or marry her. She wants more from the relationship. I suggested she walk away or take a break.

Judging from the number and depth of the responses, Cheryl’s story struck a chord with many Champs, who have been in similar situations. They shared what they learned from their experiences. For our age group, it’s an important issue, more common than I realized, and worth discussing a second time. At the end of today’s column, four lessons learned.

Lorrie said, “I was in a similar situation last year. I was dating a man I loved but he wouldn't make a commitment or make me a priority in his life. I met his kids but never spent any significant time with them.

“I never met his remaining family; he said it was to protect me because they were screwed up. He wouldn't make plans with me and I never knew when I'd see him again. I accepted his behavior and would be available whenever he called. 

“After six months, he broke up with me and I was deeply hurt. A month later, he called to tell me he loved me and missed me so much that he wanted to give it another try. I agreed and within a couple of weeks, he decided he couldn't commit after all and he only wanted to be my friend. I tried it his way for a few months and finally realized life is too short to settle, I wasn't happy and I deserved more.

“I walked away and in a couple of weeks, I met a wonderful man who lets everyone (including his family) know that I'm a priority. He is present and available. I never have to wonder when I'm going to see him because I know on his days off from work, he's going to be with me. I am not only happy, I'm at peace. I hope this will offer some hope to Cheryl that there are men out there who will give you what you want and need. You just have to be willing to take a chance to find them.”

Sue wrote, “A few years ago I met a wonderful man on We had fabulous chemistry (ha ha) and all seemed to be great. Months went by and no intro to any friends or family.
When I asked him about it-as he had met scores of mine-he said he didn't want to upset his kids. He had two sets of kids from two marriages- it's the younger ones he was concerned with...age four to 16. He said after the divorce (I’d meet them), which had already been going on for about a year when we met.
So I hung in there. He was fun and even though we could only see each other every other weekend because of these younger children, all was cool, until it wasn't.
Fifteen months went by--not one intro to anyone on his team--and another summer was coming where I would be without him at all functions most summer weekends as he sees them more in the summer. That’s when I drew the line.

“I said, ‘I'll be on my own--and you do the same--or whatever you decide. If and when the divorce is finalized, and you still want to see me and I'm not otherwise involved, great. But I'm still looking for my life partner.’
“Boy that was hard! I cried for weeks! Drained! 
“But I went back on line and did a little more dating--to get my blood running again. I met my guy in an Irish pub--where I never am on a night in NYC where I'm never in. I would not have met him had I not shed the other one; you have to make room in your heart for the new one.
If you heart is too full of what can't be- there is no room for what will be. 
It's truly NOT better to be with someone that doesn't return the love.
I've never been the queen in someone's life till's SOOO much better than crumbs.” 

One of our male Champs wrote that he has been in a somewhat similar situation, his girlfriend wouldn’t commit. He said, “When I finally told her that I was not going to continue with a ‘less than fulfilling relationship,’ she told me she could not live without me in her life--for all the good reasons.

“You have to be willing to truthfully confront the situation. You would be very surprised how people will fight for what they want when they believe they will lose something. In Cheryl’s case, it could change the entire situation if her man feels she is going away. If not, sooner is better than later, it may well be a ‘wake up’ call. She will also learn something about herself.”

Four relationship lessons from these responses:

1. There are few good reasons to stay in a relationship that isn’t in balance or isn’t right for you, or worse yet, is harmful due to the stress

2. Take a stand. Draw a line in the sand. Have some huevos. Let your wishes be known. Be prepared to lose the person that you don’t have anyway

3. When you are spending time with the wrong person, it takes away from the time you could be available to meet the right person. Many Champs met someone right for them after a breakup

4. Ask yourself how many years you have left on this earth. Don’t waste them being miserable or unappreciated.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Walking away from someone you love

On Life and Love after 50 newsletter

by Tom P. Blake                  June, 2014

Walking away from someone you love
Loving someone who doesn’t love you takes its toll. A woman named Cheryl is in that situation, which she describes as “an emotional roller coaster.” She contacted me this week, asking for my opinion.

Cheryl wrote, “I have been seeing a widower for two years. I love him dearly. From the start he has told me he will never marry again or live with anyone. I thought his feelings would change as time went on. But this will never happen.

“I don't want to end the relationship. I care too much to walk away from him, but I would love to have more! He always tells me that he would understand if I found someone else. That I deserve more, that he has nothing to offer me. He said it would hurt him, but he would understand! I hate when he says this to me! I would love to marry him. But I know that will never happen.

“I have not met his grown children. He told me it's to protect me in the event they were not receptive of me. I told him I don't expect them to fall all over me, but that they might be happy to see that their father has a woman that makes him happy!

“My focus is on his happiness. I need for him to show me that I am an important person in his life, and that he is proud of it!”

My response to Cheryl: “Your email describes your frustration vividly. I will comment since you asked, but his may not be what you want to hear, but it’s the reality as I see it.

“Did the widower tell you he will never marry or live with anyone again because he misses his deceased wife? Or, simply because he doesn’t want to? I ask because his being a widower may have nothing to do with his not wanting to live with or marry you.

“You felt you could change him. That’s a mistake people often make. We can’t change people, they have to change themselves.

You say you care too much to walk away. But if you don’t, you will be writing me a similar email in a year, or in the future sometime. Something has to change on your end.

Give him credit; he has been honest with you. When someone says he will understand if you find someone else, that he has nothing to offer you, he means it. But, you keep hanging on. That’s your choice.

“In two years, you haven’t met his grown children, which is a huge red flag. He’s doing that to protect you? No, he’s doing that to protect himself.

“Your focus is on his happiness. That is a major problem. Your focus needs to be on making yourself happy.

“You need for him to show you that you are important to him and that he is proud of you. That is not going to happen. He has told you that and his actions have repeatedly reaffirmed that.

“Walking away from a person one loves because the relationship isn’t evenly balanced is one of the most difficult things a person can do. But, for things to change, that’s what you have to do.

“Perhaps you should take an interim step. Take a break from seeing him. Get focused on something else. This is not game playing, or a tactic some call “shun mode.”  It’s to give him time to realize that he does care for you. 

“If you decide to walk away or take a break, be prepared to be lonely, sad, miss him and possibly lose him. But also know that you are doing so because the relationship is not providing you with what you want. Perhaps someone else will come along who will fulfill those needs, and you will look back and say, ‘I did the right thing.’”

Cheryl responded that she’s afraid of losing him if she takes action. She says he tells her that he is insecure because he is older than she. She said, “He is an extremely young 73 and I am 63. I believe age means nothing.”
I agree with Cheryl. The age difference is not the issue here. The problem is: she is making herself too available, not getting what she wants in return, and she’s putting up with it. The ball is in her court. 

Link to Finding Love After 60 website

Thursday, June 5, 2014

Let's find a mate for Las Vegas man‏

Let's find a mate for a Las Vegas man

I know we've got a few Champs who live in and around Las Vegas. We've already had two Reno-area Champs meet and get married. Let's see if we can find Champ Al a mate. Here's a little about him:

"My name is Al. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I am 71 and have been single since 2007, after a 26-year marriage fell apart.

"If someone 15 years ago would have told me that at this age I would be single and divorced, I would have bet all I had against that, you never know what is around the corner and what life sends. So many surprises--some good, some not. I loved being married, BUT after this single stretch, I kind of like my alone time. I just miss sharing everyday things with a partner on a regular basis.

"I miss the hugs also (we need four to six hugs a day just for maintenance). I don't know if I could trust again or jump into another marriage.

"I believe that five things are a MUST for a relationship to work.

1   Mutual admiration

2   Mutual trust

3   Common goals

4   Leadership

5   Sharing

"We all have strengths and weaknesses; there is a reason opposites attract. But where the problems start, I think, is when we are both strong in the same areas, and butt heads. If we are aware of each other's strengths, problems might be avoided.

"This falls in the area under leadership. Who is to navigate and who is to steer? Sometimes she does and sometimes he does. A give-and-take so to speak, to help make it work.

I asked Al: "Why did your marriage fall apart?

Al said, "I am just going to say that when the mutual trust is a question, many problems arise. I thought about working through that, to forgive and go on with life together. I found love letters on the computer so there was no doubt that it really happened. I just could not live that way looking over my shoulder for the rest of my life.

"I was faithful and find it hard to understand how you can love
someone and do that? (I guess "that" in Al's case was cheating.)

"So I moved on and forgave. If you do not forgive, it will eat you alive.

"I would consider corresponding with another Champ here in Las Vegas."

What happened to Al has happened to other Champs as well. Finding out about infidelity is a pretty ugly discovery. I'm sure he will learn to trust again when a nice person comes along. If you want to email him, email me and I will forward your email to him.

As a coincidence, I heard from a woman Champ in Henderson, Nevada, a suburb of Las Vegas, on the same day. But, she is not available for Al. Here's what Lillian said, "My husband Bob and I will be married for four years in June. We met through Your article brought to mind the things that are truly important in a good relationship.

"My 'biggie' is to really look at the baggage that I still have and be willing to drop it! What remains is kindness and thoughtfulness for my partner."

Perhaps today's article will bring an introduction to a nice woman for Al. He sounds like a good guy who has a few trust issues based on his recent experience. Let's see what we hear.
Have an enjoyable week-end.


Blame it on Midnight‏

Blame it on Midnight

The above title is from the Bob Seger song, "Shame on the Moon," in which, Seger, tongue-in-cheek, blames the unpredictable behavior of some men on, well, midnight. After all, someone or something, other the men themselves, had to be responsible for what had happened in their lives. (The youtube link to Seger's "Shame on the Moon" is
at the end of this column.)

I mention this because the woman featured into today's newsletter sort of blames me for the lack of men in her life. If not midnight, she might as well blame someone, other than herself, and she picked me.

I will call her Ms. X. She wrote: "I read with interest each of your newsletters. Some are very helpful; some not so much."

WHAT? I scream! Some of my newsletters don't help so much? Preposterous! Damn. I thought I knocked it out of the ballpark each and every week. I guess not. When you are a columnist, the truth hurts, especially when you are reminded of it in the first paragraph of an incoming email.

Then she wrote, "In the most recent newsletter (the one about Zoe walking the Camino in Spain), I read that not all of us will find love. Really? I don't think I could go on living if I have to fall in that statistic. It's hard enough as it is being told by men my age that I am too old."

I need to remind her, what I wrote last week:  " we age, not all of us will always find love. I think most of us would like that, but for many, the dice haven't rolled that way yet."

That sentence fragment says that some of us haven't found love yet. I did not say we will never find love. I said yet. And yet, Ms. X interpreted that as never.

I hope she will continue living if a man is not in her life, although she says she doesn't think she can. She forgets that she might be better off without a man, especially if she settles in with a guy who treats her poorly.

Then she added, "The pain of constant rejection is horrible and now I must face the prospect of never meeting my love? Thanks a lot. While you sit there happily with your younger partner. I can only be a spectator in love? Please clarify."

OK, I will attempt to clarify.

It sounds like because I write about the reality and difficulty of finding love after 60, and I call it the way it is, that I am to blame for her not finding love. At least she didn't blame it on midnight, or heaven forbid, herself.

And then she takes a subtle shot at me having a younger partner, that puts me in the category of those men who only date younger women and who tell women they are too old. Well, of course, she is right on that-my partner Greta is younger, by a rompin', stompin', 18 months. Greta will be happy that someone out there thinks she is a whole bunch younger than she is. Greta takes good care of herself, which I appreciate.

Ms. X missed the point of last week's story about 70-year-old Zoe, walking by herself on the Camino in Spain, enriching her life, exercising and meeting new people. Not having a man in her life isn't holding Zoe back; I commend Zoe's courage.

Approximately 25 women responded, admiring what Zoe is doing, which is an inspiration not only to women but to men as well.

And then there was Ms. X, finding blame for her situation instead of taking the bull by the horns (the Camino passes through Pamplona, where they have the running of the bulls) and making life happen-with or without a man. Yes, she is a spectator now. To change that, she needs to get out and get involved with activities she enjoys.

And now on to the fun part. The link to the Bob Seger classic, "Shame on the Moon." Give it a listen. The upfront, irritating advertisement lasts only 10 seconds.
Bob Seger - Shame On The Moon
Bob Seger - Shame On The Moon

 Have an enjoyable week-end.


Enriching one's life without a mate‏

Enriching one's life without a mate - Champs on the move

Seldom do I know at the start of each week what the newsletter topic will be on Friday. For years, it was always exclusively about finding love after 50 in one form or another. But five years ago, I decided to expand its reach, and changed the newsletter's name to "On Life and Love After 50."

I did this because as we age, not all of us will always find love. I think most of us would like that, but for many, the dice haven't rolled that way yet. Does that mean we just give up living because we don't have a partner? Does that mean our life should be totally dedicated to finding a mate? Hell no.
What it means is we need to pursue life with gusto as best we can and tackle the challenges on our own, or with small groups of friends. We must strive to enjoy life and make it interesting and enriching. Today's story is an example of that. It comes from long-time Champ, Zoe, who lives in Glastonbury, England. Here's how she's on the move.

Zoe wrote, "I am off tomorrow to walk 500 miles. Overweight, under-fit me, with a history of bad feet: weak, sometimes wheelchair bound, multiple fractures and all. I'm going to walk the entire Camino de Santiago Pilgrimage Walk, from the French-Spanish border to Santiago de Compostela, a city in northwestern Spain, not far from the coast, just north of Portugal."

After reading Zoe's email, I researched this walk. The website, stated: "Since the 10th Century, pilgrims have walked to the shrine of the Apostle Saint James at Santiago de Compostela in northern Spain. The routes to the shrine originate from all over Europe. The routes are known as 'Caminos,' or Ways.
"Walking a Camino was a traditional penance and pilgrims received an indulgence to pardon their sin. Today, walkers who complete at least 100 kilometers (62 miles) of a Camino earn their Compostela certificate when they reach Santiago. They carry a pilgrim passport or credencial which is stamped along the way. Walkers are treated well by locals as part of the 1,000-year tradition."

The website added that trails are well-marked and there are plenty of accommodations along the way. I noted that there are more than 50 hotels in Santiago de Compostela.

Zoe said, "I have no idea how long it will take me, most people walk many times faster than I can walk and it takes them between five and six weeks (if they walk it honestly and don't hop on a bus from time-to-time). For me, it may take twice that amount of time-10 to 12 weeks.

"I am nearly 70 and before I started practicing, I had never walked further than to the next village-two miles. However, I have can now do ten miles on a good day.

"I will still look forward to Friday's newsletter. Some of the pilgrim refugios (places to stay) do have electricity and some even have a computer, but not all of them.

"My inspiration is the American Peace Pilgrim, Mildred Norman Ryder, who walked 26,000 miles crisscrossing America making my 500 miles just a doddle. Five hundred miles isn't really that of course, but I will manage. "

To find out more about Mildred Ryder, I checked the website about her:    

The information revealed: "From 1953 to 1981 a silver haired woman calling herself only Peace Pilgrim walked more than 25,000 miles on a personal pilgrimage for peace. She vowed to 'remain a wanderer until mankind has learned the way of peace, walking until given shelter and fasting until given food.'

"In the course of her 28-year pilgrimage she touched the hearts, minds, and lives of thousands of individuals all across North America. Her message was both simple and profound. It continues to inspire people all over the world."

We wish Zoe well on her pilgrimage walk. Hopefully, she will keep us updated as she walks across Spain one step at a time. Her walk might inspire other Champs to make the same trek or visit that area of Spain.

Our Champs are fascinating people--with or without partners--as they prove week in and week out.

                             Zoe in her pilgrim hat

 Have an enjoyable week-end.


The price of being desperate for love‏

new Champ, located in the Midwest, age 60, emailed, "I am trying to find a man I can love and who loves me."  Her story reminds me of two classic oldie love songs, which I disclose as her story unravels.

The new Champ explained her predicament: "I have been on dating sites and have no problem getting dates. But they all tell me they love me within a week or two. They don't even know me let alone love me. They want to push for a long-term relationship very soon and act very needy.

"This is not working for me because I don't even get a chance to get to know them and maybe let something grow. I am honest from the beginning and try to tell them in a nice way that they need to slow down but they don't. I start to feel stressed and end up leaving what may have been a nice relationship. I want so much to fall in love with someone but until recently, I'm not having any luck."

Tom's response: "These men sound desperate and needy, and they are trying too hard, which is not appealing to you. They must, however, find you attractive. Where do you find these guys? Perhaps you need to change where you are looking."

I was also curious what the words 'until recently' meant.

The new Champ said, "I just met a man I was attracted to so much I felt 16 again. I was swept off my feet just talking to him for two weeks before we met in person and when we met it was as if I had known him forever."

Here we go again: people who are swept off their feet without meeting the person face-to-face. They are falling for an image they have in their mind. True, we discovered last week that Ruth, who moved from Wisconsin to live with Gary in Nebraska without meeting him in person beforehand, seems to have landed on her feet, but, 98 percent of the time, until a face-to-face meeting occurs, thoughts of love and long-term relationships are just speculation and based on false hopes.

The new Champ said, "For eight days we saw each other every day. He wrote me poetry, played guitar and sang to me, took me on a motorcycle ride, and cooked for me. He was charming and funny and I fell for him hook, line and sinker.

"He told me on the eight day that he needed space, that it wasn't me although he felt every bit the way he told me in the beginning; he didn't know why but he lost all those feelings (The Righteous Brothers' song, You've Lost That Loving Feeling, comes to mind). He said he was this way with every woman he met and felt there was something wrong with him.

"I was devastated, I feel like my heart has been broken into pieces and my stomach is a tight knot of agony. I can't eat or sleep and turn to tears at the drop of a hat! I never want to go through this again.

"I now wonder if this is what I do to the other guys I have dated and feel like a heel for hurting them. I'm wondering if I should look the last guy up and just settle for him and maybe grow to love him.

"I am heart sick with the thought of never being truly loved and giving love for the rest of my life and it seems more urgent since I met the guy who broke my heart. I want to feel that alive again and be wanted. How do I accomplish getting someone I love with all of my heart and have them love me the same way? What do guys want?"

Tom's response: "You turned the tables on yourself. You were too needy, too available and perhaps too easy. He says he does this with every woman he meets. It's a game to him. He romances the women and after the challenge is gone, he loses those feelings. Yea, right.

"You dated him for only eight days. Get over him. You remind me of the Patsy Cline song, I Fall to Pieces. And now you have even more urgent feelings. Develop some other life interests besides seeking a man. Find a good therapist to help you focus on becoming a more self-sufficient woman.

"And no, don't settle for a man you don't love, that's being desperate as well. What do guys want? They want confident, self-sufficient women who do just fine on their own but who enjoy being with a man as well. When we try too hard in a relationship, it will just fall to pieces."

Below are the links to the two classic love songs referred to in the text above. When the YouTube ads appear, you can click on "Skip Ad"

 Link to: You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin'
Righteous Brothers You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (45 RPM)
Righteous Brothers You've Lost That Lovin' Feelin' (45 RPM)

Link to: I Fall to Pieces

Patsy Cline - I Fall To Pieces
Patsy Cline - I Fall To Pieces
Part 2                       Update from John and Valerie

John emailed, "After reading last week's column on marriage, I wanted to update you that Valerie and I were married this past Saturday at a Mass in Kissimmee, Florida, before family and friends, some who traveled from as far away as Chicago and Arkansas. 

"You wrote about us in your October 18, 2013, column. We are so very happy. I could go on and on...Included is a picture of our first dance. Keep up being an inspiration to all who have not given up on love no matter our age."

                                                  Valerie & John

Be safe. Be well


Marriage vs Cohabitating‏

On April 25, 2014, The New York Times featured an article by Stanley Luxenberg titled, "Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage." Several Champs made me aware of the article. The link to it is at the end of today's column.

The article stated, "Americans have long been retreating from marriage. While more people of all ages are living together, the growth of unmarried couples is fastest among the older segment of the population. In 2010, 2.8 million people aged 50 and over cohabitated, up from 1.2 million in 2000, according to the United States Census Bureau."

In a nutshell, the article talked about the reasons a growing number of older couples choose to cohabitate instead of getting married. A few couples' actual situations were included.

Marriage vs. cohabitation is a topic often raised by our Champs as well.

This past Tuesday, I met with a couple, Manny, 73, and Rebecca, 55, who are heading down the opposite path. On May 10, they are getting married at sea on a yacht that they will board at the Dana Point, California, Harbor.

They are having their wedding reception at Tutor and Spunky's, my Dana Point deli. While planning their menu with them, I asked, "After cohabitating for eight years, why did you decide to get married?"

Manny, a volunteer with the Dana Point Police Services, explained: "As a part of my police volunteer training, I had to spend time last fall at the Coroner's office, better known as the morgue. I found out that the authorities, in checking for a next of kin when someone dies, do not consider contacting a girlfriend or boyfriend-they aren't even on the list. They will track down a distant relative as far away as New York City, for example, but won't consider notifying a domestic partner."

Manny continued, "I love Rebecca. She is the most important person in my life. When I heard that she doesn't count in the person being notified if I pass away, I felt terrible. That got me to thinking about marrying her. She and I discussed the possibility."

Manny stated that his daughter asked him last December what he was getting Rebecca for Christmas. He hadn't decided. His birthday is on December 20 and Rebecca's is on December 26 so it's kind of a gift-giving dilemma with Christmas tossed in between those dates.

His daughter said, "I know something she wants that would be perfect."

"What's that?" Manny asked.

"An engagement ring."

At midnight, on the cusp between December 25 and December 26, just seconds before her birthday, Manny proposed to Rebecca and presented the ring.

They said they chose Tutor and Spunky's for their reception because it so represents the Dana Point they have come to love, where they recently purchased a home.

Rebecca said, "I used to work in the District Attorney's office. And with Manny working in law enforcement, we know lots of police personnel. At least 25 of them will be attending the wedding and reception. And most of them love your deli so we decided to have the reception there. Besides, it's just up the hill from the harbor so when we get off the boat, it will be easy to get to."

Manny added, "This is amazing. Eight years ago, I owned a bicycle shop in Hacienda Heights. One day, Rebecca came in to get a bike for her grandson. I liked her. I knew she'd be coming back to pick up the bike a day later, which gave me time to figure out how to ask her for a date."

He mentioned that in the conversation about the bike the next day, he said to her, "Do you like sushi?"

Rebecca couldn't make it that night but gave him her phone number. Their first date was April 26, 2006.

One day soon thereafter, a customer gave Manny a pair of Los Angeles Dodgers-San Diego Padres baseball tickets. He invited her to the game. She wasn't a baseball fan but was originally from San Diego so she decided to go. "Besides, he was so much fun," she said.

Rebecca said, "Getting married will not change our emotional attachment to each other. It will just make some legal things easier."

Despite the cohabitation trend that Stanley Luxenberg reported in his New York Times article, some couples over 50 are still choosing to get married.

One can't help but wonder if the Manny-Rebecca story will inspire some older co-habitating couples to rethink their status.

                             New York Times Article

Part 2                       Update from Ruth

"I arrived in Hay Springs, NE on April 10 after a lovely road trip with
a couple who volunteered to drive me and all of my things.

"Gary and I were happy to meet each other, find that we are far more compatible than we ever imagined, and are having lots of fun together. There is a ton of stuff to do on this little mini-farm, plus weekend trips to neighboring towns for shopping
and seeing the area.

"I am enjoying the Nebraska terrain; the vastness of it is so impressive! I am learning to cook in a more sustainable, organic way since my partner is an organic produce grower. He welcomes my contribution to the work projects, and I am learning more than I ever dreamed at my age (70).
"We are romantically compatible and enjoy so many of the same things. I look forward to waking up each day and seeing what we will do next! This is living....I have waited nine years for this new lifestyle and a good man to share it with.

"I do photography as a hobby and will enjoy having this change of scene to add to that interest. Life is good. None of this would have been possible if I had not had the courage to venture out of my cocoon, search the "green" websites, and take a risk. Sometimes it is OK for a widow to stay put, safe in the security of the known, but if you know that you are not happy and want more from life, taking a risk is the thing to do."

Tom's take: I am pleasantly surprised, and frankly, a bit relieved. I don't advocate people moving to live with someone they have never met in person. But, with Ruth, so far so good. Hopefully, she will keep us updated and send pictures.

Be safe, be well,