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
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
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
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.
"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