What do unwed senior couples call themselves? Part 2

September 7, 2018

Responses to what do unwed senior couples call themselves

My gosh, I received a bunch of responses to last week’s eNewsletter on what unwed couples living together, age 50+ couples call themselves. The responses were so good, I wanted to share some of them with you.

Kaitte responded with her suggestions, including her favorite:

“This is my Lady, this is my Man.”
“Mon Amour, French, meaning, Love of My Life,” (Kaitte’s favorite).
“My Partner.”
“My Best Half.”
“My Life Mate.”
“My Sweetheart.”
“Significant Other.”
“My Companion, Helpmate.”
“My Reason for Living.”
“My True Love.”
All Italian: “Amore Mia, Tesoro Mia, Cuore Mia, Cara/Caro Mia.”

Tom’s comment: As I pondered Kaitte’s list, I realized some were song titles or words from songs: “Cara Mia,” Jay and the Americans; “There Goes My Reason for Living, Engleburt Humperdinck; and “My True Love,” (an early 1950’s classic by Jack Scott, see link below). And the classic 1953 Dean Martin song, “That’s Amore.”

Art, Fla., “I enjoyed this article, since many of our friends are unwed senior couples. Joanie is 73 and I just turned 80. We’ve been together five years.

When I introduce her to friends who have not met her, I simply introduce her as “Joanie.” If I am referring to her with people who do not know her, I call her “My lady friend.”

I have never been asked if we are married, but most strangers assume that we are married. I see no need to complicate things, and just go on with the conversation.”

Trixie emailed: “This topic is mighty familiar. The only answer I’ve ever used that I like is, “He’s my main squeeze.” That isn’t an expression younger people are familiar with. I’m still refining my answers to suit the setting.

I notice my main squeeze seldom answers such questions. But several times he has said, “Friend.” Really? Hmmm.

Such questions can unintentionally call up personal issues the questioner isn’t aware of.

Repeat offenders get this from me: ‘He ISN’T my husband! We’re not married!’ (And as one restaurateur countered, ‘Really? Why not?’)

On cruise ships: open seating, same as you and Greta. We eat with different people almost every night. They just want to be correct, so my answers are not disputed.

Bonus story: we struck up a conversation with a young man at a cruise ship bar. He said he was traveling with his Father-in-law. A sentence later, he was waiting for his girlfriend to join him. That’s OK! Maybe we oldies aren’t The only ones without clear labels.”

Note from Tom: Hard to juggle—having a wife and a girlfriend on the same cruise ship-it better be a mighty large ship!

Trixie added, “Finally, loved your Sea View Pharmacy San Clemente story. We have a similar pharmacy, and a very special pharmacist. He has a gift for not caring about customers’ marital status, it’s never come up. In medical situations, I introduce my main squeeze as, ‘My friend, Main Squeeze.’ It’s never been questioned.”

Carmen, my Jackson High School, Jackson, Michigan, classmate, who lives in Mexico: “I introduce Karen as “My Lady.” She calls me “Carmen.” (his true name).

But we wear gold bands, so people almost never ask.

After a few months together, there was such a big smile on her face that I didn’t want her running around appearing to be unattached. So, I asked if she would let me buy her a gold band. She agreed.

The next day, she asked if I would wear one, too. How could I say no? I gave her a diamond ring on our 2nd anniversary.”

Champs Carmen and Karen reside in Mexico

Tom comment: Awe shucks, Carmen, in the 60+ years we’ve known each other, you’ve always been a romantic dude.

Marilyn: “I was married for five years and last year we got a divorce mainly due to issues his family had with our marriage. Should not have been their business but he did not stand up to them on my behalf at the time. We are together now as? We get along a lot better now than when we were married. We travel and spend time together and still love each other. We are platonic.

What would you call us? Ex-wifey, past partner, semi-spouse (liked that one), or what? For simplicity, I just say my husband and people accept that. Any help would be appreciated on a creative introduction name.

Tom’s suggestion: “A DBTFC.” (Divorced back together for convenience)

Linda, “Craig and I have been Registered Domestic Partners for the last five years. We have been together for 18 years. The State of California recognizes it like a marriage but the Feds have just recently been catching on.

I am on his employer-paid medical insurance. It works for us. It’s an easy form to fill out and have notarized and sent to the State. The requirements: one of us needed to be at least 62.”

Tom’s comment: So, do you introduce him as your “Registered Domestic Partner?”

Lisa, “I like the semi-spouse with the hyphen, but also wanted to mention what a friend calls her live-in partner:

‘My undocumented husband.’ This may be met with raised eyebrows or worse in our heavily, politically-correct society, but it is said with a smile and is definitely tongue-in-cheek.

I wish that people would stop being so easily offended at every little thing and regain a sense of humor. It makes life so much better.”

Lynne, “I vote for ‘My Best Friend.’ That’s who I thought of my 20-year partner Joe as. We were together by choice, not a piece of paper or a ceremony.

I believe we were ‘Soul Mates.’ I felt like I’d found the person I’d dreamed of meeting and he felt the same. On our first date, he held my hand and it apparently joined our spirits.”

Mick, a co-worker with me at the Victoria Station Restaurant Chain in the 1970s, said: “I introduce Mary Ann as ‘My sweetheart.’ She likes it. Others accept it. Few ask the follow up question for specifics.

The details don’t matter much these days. I think most people understand there are an infinite number of permutations that fall under the broader concept of ‘committed couple.’”

Sarah, “In the end, what difference does it make? Whose business is it other than the couples? I love the idea of keeping it simple.”

And the winner is? Whatever term fits your situation and feels natural to you. Lots of ideas in today’s article. For me, I like significant other best. It’s worked for 20 years.

You tube link to “My True Love” Jack Scott, a 1950s classic:


What do unwed senior couples call themselves?

August 31, 2018

In the 24 years of writing newspaper columns and eNewsletters about senior relationships, there is a question for which I’ve never had a good answer. Until now. Perhaps.

The question: What do unwed senior couples call themselves?

I was reminded of that question by Mark Flannery, Fullerton, California, who emailed: “Donna and I have been together for eight and a half years. We were having lunch in Dana Point (California) with Wally Horn and his partner of 30 years, Bobbi, and this question arose: ‘What do we call ourselves? Partners? Companions? Significant others? Boyfriend/girlfriend?’”

I can relate to Mark’s question. My partner Greta and I have been together for 20 years. We aren’t married. I still find myself wondering how to introduce her. Often, “Life Partner” comes to mind. It’s an okay term, but I still get a puzzled look from people who seem to be wondering what the heck a life partner is, or they think it’s a lame explanation for why we aren’t married.

Greta and I enjoy taking cruises. We always opt for open-seating at night in the dining room, which means we are usually seated with different people every night. Frequently, table mates ask, “How long have you two been married?” Greta and I look at each other and one of us responds, “We’ve been together for 20 years.”

Most couples accept that answer, thinking we’re married. It’s easier to leave it that way than trying to explain that we are significant others or life partners or whatever we are calling ourselves at the moment.

When Greta and I would visit my mom in her retirement community in Santa Rosa, when we were out socially with Mom’s friends, Mom would introduce Greta by saying, “This is Tom’s Greta.” That was her way of saying we were living together and not married, which she probably wasn’t entirely thrilled about.

One business who knows Greta and I aren’t married but live together are the fine folks at the Sea View Pharmacy in San Clemente, California. When I pick up my prescriptions there, they don’t say, “Do you want to pick up your wife’s prescriptions?” Instead, they ask, “Do you want your partner Greta’s prescriptions also?”

In his email, Mark Flannery added, “Donna and I are a LAT (living apart together) couple. She is 69, still working, and lives in Irvine. I’m 71, retired and live in Fullerton. We go back and forth between the two cities a lot.”

Mark added, “Our friend Wally is 84 and Bobbi is 75. They are both retired and have been together for almost 30 years. When we were talking about what to call ourselves, I floated an idea I’ve had for some time: ‘Semispouse.

It received a favorable response from our little group. It isn’t perfect, but it seems to have some qualities the other labels lack. The term is included in the Urban Dictionary.”

At first, I thought the semispouse term a little bizarre, visualizing a semi-truck driver with his wife riding with him in the cab.

I looked up the term in the Urban Dictionary. It’s definition: “A significant other that plays the role of a spouse without being legally married.”

And then I decided, when written, the term semispouse would look better with a hyphen inserted: semi-spouse.

While semi-spouse for unwed senior couples will work for now, still, I’m all ears to hear our Champs’ suggestions for what to call unwed couples. Just don’t call us, “Old fogies living together!”

What do senior couples call themselves? Not old fogies that’s for sure. How about active, fun loving,energetic significant others or semi-spouses. Who cares really? Just go out and have a blast.

Living Apart Together (LAT) Relationships update

On Life and Love after 50 eNewsletter – January 12, 2018

Tom Blake

Update on Living Apart Together (LAT) relationships

Last year, I received an email that piqued my interest. It was about a March 20, 2017, article posted on www.nextavenue.org, titled, “Older Adults Embrace ‘Living Apart Together,’” by Sheena Rice.

From that article, I learned a new term that described a type of senior romantic relationship: LAT (an acronym for Living Apart Together). I checked Wikipedia’s description of a LAT “…couples who have an intimate relationship but live at separate addresses.”

In Ms. Rice’s article, she included comments from researchers from the University of Missouri. Rice said, “The researchers found that (LAT) couples were motivated by desires to stay independent, maintain their own homes, sustain existing family boundaries and remain financially independent.”

I wrote about LAT relationships in our June 23, 2017, newsletter, which included quotes from four of our Champs. All newsletters are posted to my Finding Love After 50 website.

The week after the newsletter was published, three more Champs commented on LAT relationships. Here are excerpts from their comments:

Kenny, “Just one single-over-50-year-old guy’s opinion: I have ONLY been married “twice.” That would be the “first” time and the “last” time. I feel at this stage of my life, 68, there is almost NO (like 1/10th of 1%) upside to co-habitate or remarry, especially with the multiple legal complications of either the cohabitation or marriage agreement and contract, and that includes even an expensive “can-always-be-challenged” legal prenuptial agreement.

“And NO, I am NOT some bitter cynical divorcee. Really, it’s just 2017, just common sense, and I will never justify ‘living together’ to lessen a few $$$ of living expenses.

“I have seen way too many move-in-together couples justify this, “Oh “dahhh-ling, look-at-all-the-money-we-will-save-living-together” arrangement, only to go up-in-smoke (and lots of flames), followed by one helluva mighty big honkin’ litigation full of money mess.

“But, I am currently in a committed relationship. We maintain separate residences and are agreeable to NOT mix our children and our finances.

“Yet, we care for each other (and luv each other to bits and plan to ‘go the distance’) and are totally there for each other. We travel together and all our children / family / friends recognize us as a couple.”

Phil, “I spent 21 years with my wife in a LAT. In the end, not good. We found we had nothing in common. So, we lived apart. But I could not elect the option of divorce, thinking we might reconcile. I was with my wife 24/7 in her dying days.

“In 20/20 hindsight, I would have done something else (about a divorce). With Sue now in my life in 2017, the past all seems like an ‘uncomfortable period.’”

Note from Tom: Phil and Sue, Jackson High School (Jackson, Michigan) classmates of mine, married in 2017. They had not seen each other in 50-plus years. Phil sadly passed away four months after the marriage.

Relationship counselor Christine Baumgartner, said, “I have a neighbor who has been in a LAT relationship for five years. Her partner lives four miles away. They usually see each other every day and spend most nights together at each other’s homes. They share their lives with each other and are both financially comfortable with this arrangement. I asked them why it worked for them.

“She said his house is full of electronics and stuff (which he isn’t going to change) and if she lived there full-time it would make her crazy. This is the only thing she doesn’t love about him and knows it would be a breaking point for both.

“She also said she loves having her own home that she can keep ‘just her way.’ He said he wants her to be happy when she’s with him and knows their LAT is the perfect way to achieve this.”

   2018 update on LAT relationships 

This week, the above mentioned, Sheena Rice, of the University of Missouri News Bureau, sent a follow-up press release quoting Jacquelyn Benson, assistant professor of human development and family science, who is an expert on LAT relationships.

Professor Benson raised this issue: In a LAT relationship, where committed couples live apart, what happens to the relationship and living arrangement when one of the members needs care giving or has other serious health issues? Does it change the living arrangement?

Professor Benson is doing a great service to unwed, committed senior couples, by stressing the importance of “having the talk” beforehand about what happens to the arrangement if someone gets seriously ill.

She interviewed people age 60+ who are in LAT relationships to shed light on her concern. In the press release, she was quoted, “Most of the individuals we interviewed had not been tested by the realities of caregiving within their current LAT partnerships.”

But she did say, “…couples also are willing to make changes in living arrangements to provide care giving support to one another.” That was very encouraging to hear.

Professor Benson added: “Discussions about end-of-life planning and caregiving can be sensitive to talk about; however, LAT couples should make it a priority to have these conversations both as a couple and with their families.”

 Unwed senior couples–whether in a LAT or living together–instead of texting, should have face to face “the talk”

Ms. Benson admits more research is needed to gain understanding on this important topic. The press release added, “Benson is seeking older adults from around the country who are choosing to live apart (in a LAT relationship) or living together unmarried (cohabiting).”

If you would like to participate in her research (both partners must agree to participate), contact me and I tell you how to get in touch with her. Our group might be able to give her some valuable insights on this issue affecting older adult couples.


                            Clarification about last week’s article

Clarification on last week’s eNewsletter from Althea, the woman who is care giving the couple (both 81) in Yuba City, California. Althea emailed, “You did a good job and quoted me correctly except for the place where you wrote that the daughter had ‘hired me.’ I wasn’t hired, in the sense that it’s a job and I get paid…I don’t get any money.

“The ‘pay’ is I get room and board free in exchange for what I do to help them…be company for the wife, making meals, keeping the house as clean as I can (they have housekeepers who come every other week).  And I supply a dog since they lost theirs. Animal love is very important.”

Thanks Althea for setting the record straight.