“Young people may be eager to marry for love, but older couples are more practical and worry about paying the bills,” says Pepper Schwartz, professor of sociology at the University of Washington.
These days, more and more Americans are meeting new loves or (finally) their true loves later in life. It has been said that marriage is a young persons’ game, but love isn’t. Even if you leave marriage to the young and idealistic, there is still some planning that really has to be in place.
The sociology of later-in-life marriage is fascinating, both in thinking about the recent jump in numbers and the more recent decrease. Either with or without tying the knot it is also a practical issue with legal ramifications, and for those later-in-life loves not destined for marriage there is some practical advice to be gleaned in an article on the subject in The New York Times titled “Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage.”
The article has the voice of several experts and more than a few horror stories to share. You see, marriage is an emotional union, but it is also an economic and legal one. This may come far more naturally to 20-somethings than boomers. It seems the older you get the more you have and the more you have to think about.
If you are to marry, then the separate pasts, lives, and families have to mesh together and you have to account for it all, which is a tricky enterprise when everything from college financial aid for children/grandchildren to Medicare or Medicaid benefits may instantly be affected.
To not marry doesn’t necessarily make all of those issues go away, but it might add new ones. For example, how will you legally care for one another and how will you own assets like the home. And of course, there is always the possibility of a split – even this late in life – and the question then of how protected are your assets comes to the forefront.
Do take a look at the original article, especially if marriage is not the end-goal, and be sure to structure this new stage in life so that it might also be a happy one.
Reference: The New York Times (April 25, 2014) “Welcoming Love at an Older Age, but Not Necessarily Marriage”