Marriage in the Gloaming
Asked for my about my opinions on marriage for older gay folks, my first reaction was, “Don’t!” But then, I remembered that even close friends frequently call me “baleful,” and that just because my own marriage lasted only two years less two days, doesn’t mean there might not be other sides to the story. Actually, I know several older people who have entered into, or are about to reenter, matrimony. Some, after August 2013, were married after decades of togetherness, others are contemplating the leap for the first time. So, some thoughts:
One must first of all determine what constitutes “older,” or “senior.” When I was 23, 40 seemed well into dotage, while now it beckons from the spring-chicken side of the divide.
There are entrance considerations like, “Should our union be monogamous or open?” the urgency of which may or may not diminish in intensity as one ages, but is still a subject that should be explored before the “I do”s are done.
Marriage at any age, whether undertaken of one’s own free will or brokered through one’s esteemed parents, and whether you wish it to be so or not, will be enmeshed in the tentacles of financial realities. Money. Cash. The old spondulix. Does one of you have significantly more holdings than the other, in real estate, cash, or earning power? (As to this last, refer to the above on “What constitutes older or senior?” Is one or both of you still working? Is either one of you retired? Where does the fiduciary power lie?)
Take my word for it (I don’t choose to offer personal examples here) that the bottom line is: love doesn’t pay the rent. Or the mortgage. Or the grocery bill. Rather than plunging into shared savings and checking accounts, a prudent choice is to maintain a third, joint account to pay shared bills; keep your personal money separate so your beloved can’t complain when you plunk down five figures for a 78 by blues legend Tommy Johnson while you bite your tongue when he brings home a very fine copy of Action Comics No. 1.
I would advise anyone, of any age, coupled or not, to have a will. You’re never too young to die, and the older you get, the more actuarially sound it is to prepare for the future time when you aren’t. Especially if you marry. Make sure your spouse is provided for in the most specific way possible. Not only for the disbursement of money and real estate, but of yourself. Write a will; write a living will with medical directives, and make sure they’re in the hands of as many people and institutions as are needed to carry them out. (After Dad’s death, the funeral director spoke of handsome caskets and other pomp and circumstances until I reminded him Dad had already told them that he wanted to be cremated and put in a cardboard box. “Um, yes, that’s so…” he conceded.)
Once you think you’ve got it all sorted out — the sex, the money, the… (what else is there?) — you’ll arrive at that issue that by everyone’s definition is a deal-breaker: “Should the toilet paper go under or over?” Your only recourse is to secure a dwelling with two loos, one under each partner’s sole jurisdiction, and never, ever, mention the subject again.
I suppose you might ask after all these opinions about marriage for the older gay, whether I would myself remarry. Well, at the divorce, my Boston lawyer said I couldn’t marry for six months. I told him he needn’t worry. I’ve given it some thought over the intervening 51 years and have come to this conclusion: I would marry for fondness, a sharing of resources, and the security, such as it might be, that my goods and chattels might help sustain him should I predecease him, and his sustain me should the alternative occur.
This would bring up yet another problem not covered above. I am an only child with no offspring, nieces, nephews, cousins or whatnot, and most potential partners, even of the old or senior variety, have someone — or several someones — ahead of me in line for their largess.
Besides, I prefer to live alone, with my own hours and zero noise level. I’ll just tick along with my books, beer, and La-Z-Boy, and see what comes my way. But go ahead; marry, enjoy, grow old(er) together. My felicitations and best wishes to you happy (and now properly prepared) couples-to-be!