Marriage is no longer a slam-dunk decision. Three couples not married, but in rewarding relationships without the marriage.
By Tom P Blake - Finding Love after 50
This article was first published in 2008
Is a new trend emerging among older couples? Many are in loving, rewarding relationships without the marriage aspect.
Last Sunday night, My partner Greta and I attended a holiday party at a home in a nearby city. During the course of the party, three couples-all in their 50s and 60s--were chatting. Each of the couples are in loving, caring relationships. None are married.
The first couple has been dating exclusively for three years. They were introduced by friends. They live about 35 minutes apart by car. He's retired, living on a limited income. She's still working. They split dating expenses but admit doing so gets awkward trying to remember whose turn it is to pay.
They see each other on a regular basis but the commute is arduous, usually with heavy traffic. They are pondering what steps to take in the future should they decide to live together. Neither wants to live in the other one's home and deal with the baggage of memories.
They said if they were to live together, they would likely sell their own homes and purchase one together. However, marriage doesn't seem to figure into that plan.
He's 12-years-older and pushing for living together; she's been burned before so she's leery of giving up her hard-won independence.
The second couple owns a home together. They are close in age, in their late 50s. He's still working; she's recently retired. They split the household expenses. They originally met and started dating when they worked for the same company. They have no plans to marry at this point.
The third couple, also close in age, in their mid-60s, met at a restaurant. They've been together 10 ½ years and have lived together in her home for 6 ½ years. He rents out his home and pays her a fair rent. She's retired, he's still working. They are happy with their arrangement and have no plans to marry.
When the third couple mentioned to the first couple that they use a credit card to pay for shared social expenses--dates, trips, food and dining out--although the card is in just one of their names, the first couple liked the idea and decided they will get a credit card to also pay for joint expenses.
Are arrangements like these--being committed to each other, but not marrying--the wave of the future for the over-50 singles set?
The "How 50 Couples Found Love After 50" book I'm publishing in early 2009 features many of our members, including Jon and Sharon, who live in Olympia, Washington. They met in a singles group a year ago September and have dated exclusively since.
Jon said, "Sharon and I still live separately and probably will for several more years. She has a nice house six miles from me, which she really likes. I like my five-acre property with the five dogs, cats, trees and wildlife. She talks about moving in sometime so she can raise chickens and things. I told her it's OK as long as she takes care of them. I have enough to do.
"I am always amazed when people seem to think that being in a singles club means you are looking to get married and that there is something wrong when it doesn't work out that way.
"The possibility of marriage has come up several times for me, but usually there is some compatibility problem (dogs, houses, location, friends, finances and different interests).
"Sharon and I are quite happy with the current arrangement and will wait to see what the future holds."
Is marriage becoming a thing of the past for older singles? Hardly, there are lots who still opt for marriage. Many of the 50 couples who will be featured in the How Couples book tied the knot after they met. But, marriage isn't a slam-dunk decision anymore.
As we age, there are a multitude of factors to evaluate when considering marriage-giving up one's financial security, independence, health issues, compatibility, living arrangements and religious beliefs-to name a few. For many couples, marriage would complicate things. For others, marriage is the only way to go.
Each couple's situation differs. The important thing is not to rush the decisions, but to carefully evaluate all the factors. Both sides need to be honest, listen to what the other has to say, and then make a mutual decision.