On Life and Love After 50 eNewsletter – February 5, 2021
by columnist Thomas P Blake
Senior love in the U.P. of Michigan -Follow your heart but take your brain with you
As Valentine’s Day approaches, I hoped I’d be able to share with you a senior feel-good, finding-love story. Lo and behold, an email arrived describing Champ Cheryl’s relationship with Matt. This is a different Cheryl than the one we spoke about last week.
What stands out is how they intelligently approached their 600-mile long-distance relationship. Cheryl and Matt met online, moved slowly, decided to live together in his home, faced obstacles with his daughter, and eventually moved to Cheryl’s home. They talked things over, realized they weren’t perfect, and yet, made the relationship work. I think Champs will benefit from their story.
I edited Cheryl’s email for length and clarity.
She wrote, “Matt and I are blessed to have found love in our 70s. However, we do take some credit for our success and don’t believe it was just luck. We were honest when we wrote our profiles and answered hundreds of questions on OK Cupid, and we were honest with each other in our communications from the onset.
“Our ‘deal-breakers’ were issues of substance, not less-important things like food preferences or favorite color! We were cognizant that at our age we were set in our ways to some extent, and we were willing to accept that–in each other–and make adjustments and compromises.
“Matt says we each have ‘perfect imperfections!’ We were also willing to travel more than 25 miles to find a loving partner, and when we found each other, both were willing to relocate to where the other one lived.
“We didn’t make a hasty commitment, but when we did commit, we felt confident that we were doing the right thing. We both recognized that we were lonely living alone and we wanted to be in a committed, live-in relationship, so we were dedicated to making it work.
“Some seniors—widowed, never married or divorced–have decided they prefer living alone to living together, and perhaps they don’t realize that until they venture into dating again. Possibly that is why they decide a relationship isn’t working for certain reasons.
“Honesty from the outset is crucial. Relationships at any age are challenging, but at least we seniors have the advantage of knowing ourselves well and understanding the futility of ‘playing games’ in relationships! Sometimes people are blindsided by revelations by partners that were not initially revealed.
“Matt’s house in the Upper Penisula of Michigan is 600 miles from where I was living in Ohio. In April 2016, I spent a week with Matt in the U.P. getting to know him in person and getting to know my potentially new location, which I liked.
It’s cold in the Upper Penisula of Michigan
(Photo by Debbe Daniels)
One regret I have is that I did not meet his daughter. I’m not sure if meeting her would have changed our plans, but in hindsight, meeting her should have happened. I’ll explain later.
“In July 2016, Matt came to Ohio and spent two weeks meeting my family and friends and doing some sight-seeing. By that time we had decided to make a ‘rest-of-the-journey commitment to each other and I had decided to move to the U.P.
“In September 2016, I moved to Michigan to be with Matt. I had made assumptions about his relationship with his daughter (his only child) that proved not to be true, and he assumed she would accept me as his partner. Since his daughter lives in the same town, we expected to share family time with her and her fiance’ and likely grandchildren for Matt eventually. (Matt found out via email from his son-in-law that they were already married!)
As a result of her resistance to my involvement in Matt’s life and her subsequent total estrangement from him for 2 1/2 years, we are now moving back (for me) to Ohio, which Matt is willing to do. He realizes how much I miss having family interaction, especially at holiday times.
“Matt has made it clear to his daughter that he is not ‘giving me up,’ and she will not dictate to him how to live his life. I know some seniors have had issues in relationships where a person feels forced to choose between a partner and a child and chooses the child.
“It’s a choice no one should be forced to make, and sadly Matt’s daughter has put him into this position. Fortunately, he chose the path that he knew would make him and me happy (remaining committed to me and our relationship)–a path he has every right to follow.
“One benefit of pursuing a relationship at our age (70s) is that we know ourselves well enough to recognize what we need and want based on our emotions and practical objective considerations. We are not as likely to simply get ‘swept off our feet’ and make a decision prematurely or based solely on emotion.
“The benefits of living in our 60s, 70s, and 80s give us a better chance of achieving a happy, successful relationship than when we were younger and knew ourselves less well. It’s always important, as someone once said, to “Follow your heart but take your brain with you.” This applies to any age, but I think we are more likely to do that in our senior years!”
Cheryl’s comments summarize how to wisely approach a new relationship in our later years. What a nice story for the month of Valentine’s Day.
I’m aware Valentine’s Day is a week away, but it’s the month of Valentine’s Day +