In senior dating, do multiple marriages matter?

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter –  March 1, 2019 
by Columnist Tom P Blake
Senior Dating. Multiple Marriages – do they matter?
In last week’s e-Newsletter, Champ Lisa said she had gone to counseling for 18 months to try to understand her “three failed marriages.”That comment gave me an idea for an e-Newsletter topic. So, at the conclusion of that newsletter, I wrote, “When seniors are dating and meeting new people, does having had multiple marriages, on either person’s part, matter? Would that be a deal breaker? Red flag? Or, non-issue?”

I’m going to go out on a limb here and define “multiple marriages”–for this discussion only–as three or more.

Some Champs shared their opinions.

Lynn, emailed, “Regarding the ‘failed marriages’ issue, I have been married three times, and have viewed each one as a much-needed lesson learned about myself.

“People come into our lives for a season, a reason or a lifetime. It was always important to me to embrace whatever I could learn from the marriage experience and part gracefully and remain friends. I loved that person at one time and love can change.

“It was also important to help my ex’s, to ensure nobody failed—life happens; we control very little. It stings to see so much anger and or hurt when a marriage/relationship ends.”

Tom’s reply to Lynn: “I appreciate your enlightened view on marriage ending. Also, I think Lisa’s definition, ‘failed marriages,’ isn’t quite the right term.

“‘Marriages that ended’ might be a better description. I don’t view my three divorces as failures although at the time they happened I did. They turned out to be blessings in disguise—it just takes time to recognize that.”

Rhonda, two marriages, said, “I find that a future man in my life who has been through some of the same things I have been through to be a plus, while four or five marriages would be a potential red flag.

“I also think a person who has never been married may be a red flag as well. My insight to both of my marriages and what I have learned from them makes me who I am today.

“Experiencing the demise of what once was a seemingly great relationship can help people move forward in some ways. Seeing what didn’t work and what I can do better hopefully will make for a solid relationship the next time around. I see now how valuable communication and true friendship is in a happy couple (like you and Greta).

“I would be somewhat apprehensive to be in a relationship with a man who has no kids. Why? Because I am extremely close to my adult children and I don’t know if someone who isn’t in that same place (at least a bit) can fully understand.”

Champ Kenny wrote, “Potential red flags dating a woman three-times divorced? It would depend on the woman’s intentions/goals in any future relationship. If her sole mission was to remarry for a round four, I’d be running as fast as I could in the opposite direction.

“But on a positive note, Champ Lisa apparently has many great qualities. She seems upbeat, cheerful, super-active and fit while enjoying her Florida retirement lifestyle.

“Not to be judgmental, but I can’t fathom a three-times divorced 70+ age women looking for yet another husband? Better to date casually and if Mr. Wonderful does once again miraculously appear, maybe they should work as a couple into a LAT (Living Apart Together) relationship.”

This past Tuesday night, at the WomanSage panel discussion in Costa Mesa, California, (six Champs attended out of the 44 women guests), Champ Carolyn indicated to me that she would likely avoid any man with three or more marriages.

In my archives, I found a column I wrote on this topic 10 years ago. I picked out what I think are some of the more salient points and am including them here.

A woman named Marjorie had written, “I met a man two weeks ago at a musical theatre performance. I am 63, he is 66. We have been out twice, but we talk every two or three days.

“I have been married three times and think I am a fairly good choice, but he is somewhat reluctant to reveal the number of times he has been married, although I am aware of at least three.

“I haven’t pressed this issue. He has an excellent relationship with his children and grandchildren. It is obvious his most recent marriage was short-lived and bitter. How many marriages before it becomes a red flag?”

I responded: Egad, woman, give it some time! You’ve only been out with him twice, and talked to him, what, maybe five times?

If you press the issue, you may chase him away before you even find out how many times he’s been married. If he’s reeling from a recent bitter marriage, the last thing he wants is to defend himself or talk about it. Why not enjoy the moment and forget about his marriage tally?

Why are you concerned about how many times he’s been married? Are you so intent on getting married again that that’s all you’re worried about?

And besides, Margorie, you aren’t a golden angel yourself, with three divorces under your belt. So, what if he’s had four? That’s only one more than three. If he’s had five or six, now that’s a bit of a red flag, but only if you are eager to get married again.

It isn’t uncommon these days for people our age to have had more than two (or three) marriages. Does that make us tainted? Are we bad people? No. We just lived life.

Were our decisions to marry mistakes? No, they just didn’t last. Sometimes, it’s hard to remember what we were thinking when we decided to marry in our earlier days. Most likely, we thought getting married was the right thing to do. So, we did it.

How about the people who’ve been widowed? They had no choice in losing a spouse. Some have even lost two spouses. Should it even matter how many marriages they’ve had? (Well, if they’ve had four, and all have died under suspicious circumstances, then that might be a red flag).

I’ve had three marriages, and Greta, my partner of 21 years now, (back when this was written, it was 11 years), has also had three. Having the same number of marriages was one of the things we had in common when we were sharing information on the first date, so it was a positive thing that we both had ‘multiple marriages.’

And despite three marriages each, we have the best relationship I could ever hope for (still true after 21 years). We live together but are not married; neither of us feels that it’s necessary (still true after 21 years).

I guess it’s because neither of us would want the number four emblazoned in scarlet upon our chests—but that’s not the reason we haven’t married.

It’s simply: why mess up a good thing?

Also, I’ve never had children. And yet, I’ve got four kids, eight grandkids, and three great grandkids, thanks to Greta. I love them dearly, and I’m pretty sure they appreciate me, so why risk changing that dynamic by getting married?

So, for people “our age,” whatever the heck that means—60, 70, 80, or 90–should the number of marriages really matter? I don’t think so…but when the number reaches four, it’s time to scratch your head. Five or more, well, it depends on the circumstances, so obviously proceed with much caution.

Marriage number one for this Shanghai couple

This column on multiple marriages reminded me of Simon & Garfunkel’s song “Mrs. Robinson,” from the Bookends album, and of course, the movie, “The Graduate,” with Dustin Hoffman. Probably because of these words:

“Where have you gone Joe DiMaggio…Jolting Joe has left and gone away. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.”  The link follows:

Two single 70-year-old men age with different views about meeting women

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – April 20, 2018

Welcome to new Champs who joined our group this week. Dating, socializing, interacting and experiencing life from age 50 into our 90s is filled with challenges. That’s what we tackle each week.

Once again, you Champs overwhelmed me with intelligent and interesting comments based on last week’s request for thoughts from single men age 70. The topic: why it’s hard to meet available guys. I selected two responses from men for this week’s article and will use the other responses in future articles.

Two men with vastly different views about meeting women

1. Roger, a never married man, takes issue with me

Even though Roger is not one of our Champs, a woman friend of his is a Champ. She gave him a copy of last week’s article. I appreciate that he took the time to contact me. He is among the single 70-year-old men.

Roger emailed, “Your article was passed along to me by my friend Jane, who is a subscriber (Champ). I must take exception to the conclusions that you drew from such a very limited sample (three men).

Is it fair, or even correct, to generalize about an entire population of age 70+ men from the three people who you detailed in your article? I think not.

I am a single 70-year-old man who is finding it difficult to meet a woman with whom I can have a romantic relationship. I am good looking (voted ‘best looking’ in high school), well-educated (a doctor), in great shape (I hike and mountain bike every weekend, and exercise on the other days), spiritual (meditate twice/day), lead a healthy lifestyle, and am financially secure. So, you would think I should be fighting the women off, correct? Not so.

I do meet women who are interested in me, however, many of them are out of shape (someone on the internet described herself as having a ‘few extra pounds,’ when in fact she was 5’4″ and weighed 185! That’s not ‘a few extra pounds’, that’s obese!

OK, that’s an extreme example. However, I do expect a woman to be in shape, slender, compassionate, and leading a healthy lifestyle. Is that too much to ask? I think not.

I recently met a 60-year-old woman at a speed-dating event. Following up with her, we had a lively one-hour + phone conversation. I was looking forward to meeting with her again, and yet a couple of days later she texted me, thanking me for the conversation but telling me that ‘we were at different places in our lives,’ and she didn’t want to pursue the relationship.

It was not difficult to read between the lines and see that she felt a single 70-year-old man was out of her ‘preferred age range.’  A shame. When I was 43, my girlfriend was 24, a 19-year age difference. Certainly a 19-year age difference when both parties are younger is more significant than a 10-year age difference when both parties are older. Go figure.

One other possibility for my having difficulty meeting the right one is that I have never been married. (I’ve had long relationships, the last one was 14 years).

However, I get the feeling that women see my having never been married as somehow an indication of an ‘inability to commit.’  I find this laughable, since in almost every case the woman has been divorced, which means she in fact herself did not commit, or she would still be married. Unless of course she was abused, married to a drug addict, or to someone who was incarcerated,

So, I wanted to give you the male point-of-view. Your article seemed to imply that it was the men who were too picky (wouldn’t date someone who lived more than five miles away, wouldn’t date an Asian, etc). I find quite the opposite to be true; I find the women to be too picky.

Are men too picky? Are women too picky? It’s so hard to decide which ball to choose. All are new and shiny, but the autographs are different

If I am rejected because I am ‘too old,’ even though physiologically I test at the age of 51, or commitment-phobic, even though I have been in relationships that lasted longer than many marriages, then I don’t think it is my being too picky.”

Tom’s comment: I suspect women will form their own opinions regarding Roger’s comments. I found them, well…interesting.

Just a few items for Roger’s information: I was not generalizing about the entire population of over-70 aged men. I merely gave an example of what three men think. Just as I am doing today, but, it’s how two men think.

Also, he assumed the woman he met speed dating felt there was too much of an age difference—10 years—between them when she had told him, “they were at different places in their lives.” My opinion: it could have been reasons other than just the age gap. She may have been just being kind, or, she just wasn’t that into him.

And then Roger’s inability-to-commit assumption could have been something else as well.

2. Bob H.

Bob emailed, “I agree with your observations on why single 70-year-old men age 70 and older are hard to find – but we are still out there. I live in the San Diego, CA, area and volunteer, go to church functions, and work part-time, but still haven’t met the right woman. I would love to meet a similarly aged lady in the SD area who shares my interest in science and in getting out and doing things.

Your advice to be socially active to meet new people is right on – especially going to activities that relate to one’s areas of interest. Anyway, keep encouraging Champs to get out there.

Please send me email addresses of women in my area who think we might have something in common. I know you are not a dating service, but I really want to encourage 70+ women to be active and keep looking – we single men exist!

Tom’s comment: For women living in the San Diego area, if you’d like to communicate with Bob, email me and I will pass your email on to him.

As I said earlier, I will try to include the other responses from last week’s article in future newsletters. In the meantime, keep those observations coming.