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SamNE

Committed But Not Married (Long)

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Two widowed people find one another after being alone for years and fall in love. They are both in their 60’s with 2 adult children each. They each have pensions, mutual funds acquired during their previous marriages and are receiving social security. Financially they are both good and about equal. They have decided to be a committed couple and spend the rest of their lives together. They figure out how they will share expenses, and they even decide to write an agreement, which they have notarized, about how they will do that, and how they will handle joint property if one or the other should leave by choice or death. They both agree they would like “yours, mine and ours” when it comes to money so they can leave what they don’t need individually or as a couple to their respective children. They take out $100,000 term life insurance policies as a way to help take care of the other  knowing all too well that one will likely die before the other, but naming their children as secondary beneficiaries if they die together. They want to marry each other because they want to declare to each other and to the world that they are a couple, in the eyes of man and God.

 

Both of them have set aside money to pay for long term care, should they ever need it. Her mother didn’t do that and went through hundreds of thousands of dollars for assisted living before running out of money and becoming eligible for Medicaid, which paid for her last years in a nursing home that would not have been her choice if she had planned ahead. She was widowed and died penniless. This widow does not want to go down that road and has set aside money for this, which will go to her children if she never needs it. He has done the same. 

 

The laws of the land however, say that if married, one must not only go through all their own money before becoming eligible for Medicaid, but also most of the spouses money. So, in effect, her medical needs could potentially wipe out not only her assets,  but also his, leaving nothing for his own future needs, or to pass along to his children. And vice versa too of course. So in this case, marrying means that should either of them need long term care down the road, the other could potentially get wiped out financially. Eligibility starts when all you have left is $2500. 

 

So, they are reluctantly deciding not to marry, in order not to compromise the future financial needs of the other. Money isn’t everything, Love is important too. But when it comes down to being old and alone, money seems like a good thing to have on hand to see you through to the end. 

 

They are thinking to have a wedding anyway, only not register the marriage, ie being married in all but the legal sense. They do not live in a common law state. This couple (obviously me and my beloved) would like any thoughts you might offer: 

 

1. Is such a marriage deceitful or our own business?

2. Can we call each other husband and wife, or should that be reserved for the legally married?

3. Would you as a child, friend or relative of a couple doing this attend the wedding or feel duped if you found out it wasn’t a legal wedding? 

4. Does anyone have any experience with having done this?

5. If we opt for a commitment/unity/hand fasting ceremony instead of a wedding, is he your husband/she your wife?

6. What do you call one another signifying your relationship if there is no ceremony but you are together, committed and in love? 

 

Thanks for any thoughts. 

Sam 

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1. Your (and your Sweetie's) business.

2. For me, I wouldn't call myself and Sweetie *husband and wife*. But hey, that's me.

3. I would attend. I want to share in my kin and friends happiness.

4. Nope - My wife and I are in close to similar circumstances but just a few years younger. My wife's health is very fragile. If she goes before me, I may possible make the choice you are.

5. See #2 above.

6. Hmmmm. Good question. At our ages, BF/GF sounds weird and 'partner' would be ridiculous for me. I dunno, Main Squeeze?

 

Good luck you crazy kids!!  

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These are all great questions which I'm sure will get mixed responses to. I'm not in a relationship, but I've asked myself the same questions. In a lot of ways not being married makes more sense financially for ourselves and our children. I'm not sure what I'll decide if and when that time comes. My opinion is that it's your choice. You two define your relationship. What other people think wouldn't even be a factor in my decision making process. Congratulations to you both! 

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SamNE,

My thoughts.  This sucks since you do indeed wish to marry.

As to your questions..... your life your choice! Call each other by whatever name you want.   And yes, your friends and family would be thrilled and honored to attend whatever ceremony or occasion you choose. If they do not even wish to attend,  they do not belong among your nearest and dearest.  Being able to attend is different from wishing to attend of course.

Best of wishes to you

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These are good and helpful thoughts....

Main Squeeze...l dunno. Boyfriend sounds kinda weird and juvenile at our age. “My Love” ? “My Sweetheart” ?  “ My Beloved” ? Interestingly, I saw an article about this very thing after I posted my questions and the author said we need new words and suggested Compara (female) and Comparo (male)

Thank you for assuring me everyone would come. I was afraid the religious traditionalists might think it was a fake, illegitimate wedding, if we go that route. 

 

 

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SamNE In my opinion- You want to be husband and wife....then be husband and wife.Even if it's just in your own minds. If it's not registered who needs to know.  

Note I am not religious and don't give that alot of significance, 

 

1. Is such a marriage deceitful or our own business?- own business

2. Can we call each other husband and wife, or should that be reserved for the legally married?-sure why not they are just words

3. Would you as a child, friend or relative of a couple doing this attend the wedding or feel duped if you found out it wasn’t a legal wedding? All would be good but if your worried just call it a ceremony of love

4. Does anyone have any experience with having done this? No

5. If we opt for a commitment/unity/hand fasting ceremony instead of a wedding, is he your husband/she your wife?sure why not they are just words

6. What do you call one another signifying your relationship if there is no ceremony but you are together, committed and in love? whatever you want

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As a wise person stated in another thread, you can call yourself what you want, but don't be surprised if someone disagrees or tries to correct you. Maybe that wouldn't bother you - it's totally your call.

 

I don't subscribe to the 'they are just words' theory. Words are meant to have meaning, and if I'm not married I just can't see myself telling people that I am. I would consider that to be a lie.

 

None of these thoughts are meant to discourage you from doing whatever it is you want to do. I'm just pointing out my feelings on the matter. We have a legal definition of marriage in this country, and there are legal pros and cons that go along with being married. I understand wanting the pros without taking on the cons, but life isn't always that simple.

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Just a thought, which may or may not apply, but in case it helps in some way- under U.S. federal law (should you be US citizens), each year one is allowed to gift a certain amount to each child, as well as their spouse. The current year I believe the amount is $15,000 per person. If you desire to marry but wish to protect your childrens' inheritances, an early/gradual dispersal of your estates in that manner may be of benefit, if it works into your general financial status/estate planning, etc. I have no experience with things like trust funds, so I don't know whether there're any options open to you there! 

 

Best wishes to you!  

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First, congratulations on finding someone with whom you wish to spend the rest of your life! What a wonderful feeling!

 

I can relate to much of what you are saying. While my BF and I are not there yet as I/we don't wish to blend our kids, I would like to marry...but financially it would be unwise before age 60 due to Social Security (my husband's account is much larger than my own, which I can collect only if I am unmarried at age 60). I have thought many of the same things...could we do a commitment ceremony, a non-legal marriage, what would we call each other?...

 

As for your concerns regarding long-term care, have you looked at long-term care insurance? Or maybe larger life insurance policies? 

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I am appreciating these various perspectives, because I do feel concerns about balancing what we want (to be married to each other but also to protect the other in case of long term care needs down the road) and doing the right thing morally and ethically in the eyes of selves, family, God and government.

 

To clarify, we are not looking for any of the government “perks” of marriage in terms of inheritance, taxes, or rights that come with a “legal” marriage registered in city hall.

We just want to take vows before family, friends and God, and want to be husband and wife honorably and spiritually. No, vows are not just words, they are sacred promises. We don’t mind not being married in the eyes of Uncle Sam, and would never lie about that for any government married benefits, we just want to be married in the eyes of God, yet not be seen in our community of friends, church and family as being just boyfriend/girlfriend as if we had simply moved in together. 

 

I know we could also also create something unique, a Ceremony of Love and Commitment (thank you for that idea, Klim!)  and never call each other husband or wife. And I think I actually wouldn’t mind being introduced by him as “This is my Beloved, Sam” .

 

Re assets, a prenup protects you in case of death or divorce, but if your spouse runs out of money while alive because of exorbitant health care costs, you too must deplete what you had put aside to cover your own long term health care costs before your spouse qualifies for Medicaid. So, like in my twice-widowed mother’s case, her first husband (my father) had made good provisions for her, but her second husband depleted his money and then depleted hers before he died because that is one of the unintended penalties of a legal marriage, and she therefore ran out of money at a time in her life when she was most vulnerable and needed it. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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SamNE,

 

I had written about this at another time. I was actually told by a poster it would  be insane to not marry legally 🙄  I had consulted my pastor when hearing about elderly who wanted to marry but would lose all their former spouse's pension benefits and insurance, which would have been the case for my mother.  I asked my pastor if she would marry a couple like that, and she never really responded. 

 

Gay couples did this for years prior to marriage being legal.  That is a whole other issue but they know.

 

My issue is my son has his father's veteran's benefits which I would lose some of them if I remarry.  My husband's service and my son's benefits should not go away if I remarry.  But our laws. Also, our laws are so inconsistent.  Did you know  a first wife, divorced maybe 30 yrs. gets the divorced husband's SS if it is more than hers at retirement age?  WHAT?  WHY?  So there are inconsistencies.

 

My guy asked his pastor to marry us but not legally. We have a divorced situation, and his wife is vindictive, and I cannot risk my son's inheritance and nest egg to a greedy ex.  The laws of my state say it should not factor in, but judges can make all kinds of decisions outside of the prescribed law. I have seen it.  I have worked years with criminal cases for sexual abuse with children, and judges have not followed the law when convicting sexual offenders, so I know things can "bend.".

 

So, I have an ordained Baptist pastor friend. He was very close to my late husband for years.  He would marry me and NG if we wanted without the legal binding. But he has warned me of the consequences, also. There is that.  He would do it as one of his sisters came out gay.  He had a deep philosophy/theology change regarding his beliefs with much research and study of the bible.  A tangent, but why he is different than other pastors.  He knows he would never be asked to lead  a church.  So, when NG and I are ready, there is that possibility.

 

My mother ended up in a care facility. She went through $75,000 in 8 months. She had good nest egg.  She didn't out live it at 88 yrs. old but she could have. So, the reality is there as you stated.  Most states have where you cannot take half of the spouses income if one goes to care. That is what happened with my father.  He went in an nursing home, 5 years.  My mother had to go to court yearly and show where things went, but they only took half of the income. She had the house, car, and anything in the home, and only half the assets could go to the nursing home.  That should be standard law now.

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Posted (edited)

I think there is nothing wrong with having some type of commitment ceremony so you can make your vows to each other in front of family, friends and God and leave the government out of it.  Personally I wouldn't keep it from my children, I would explain it just how you did to us.  If you want to call yourself "husband and wife" to the world, why not?! As long as you aren't declaring it on any paperwork or falsely benefiting in any way I don't see why anyone would care if that's what you feel in your hearts you are.

 

I at one point had considered doing the same but we are far from retirement and have minor children so officially marry seemed to make more sense for us.  We did do a prenup and are in the process of getting long term care insurance.

 

Best of luck whatever you decide and congratulations !

Edited by Trying
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Posted (edited)

1. Is such a marriage deceitful? In the eyes if the government and probably the church, yes it is deceitful, but it is also your own business.

2. Can we call each other husband and wife, or should that be reserved for the legally married? Your business, but I believe it should reserved for legally married couples

3. Would you as a child, friend or relative of a couple doing this attend the wedding or feel duped if you found out it wasn’t a legal wedding? Eh, idk, another thing that's your business I guess. With my experience it would probably offend me a little bit, but I'd also understand the choice.

4. Does anyone have any experience with having done this? 

I am getting married in two weeks. I will lose the $724 a month I get from dh's survivor's benefits, and I probably will lose my "free" insurance. And I stand to lose other financial benefits in the future, I'm sure. But I am choosing to be legally married, because I believe it is the right thing to do. If I was in my 60's with no children I might look at it differently. At 42 with 4 relatively young children still, my viewpoint is much different that yours.

5. If we opt for a commitment/unity/hand fasting ceremony instead of a wedding, is he your husband/she your wife?

No

6. What do you call one another signifying your relationship if there is no ceremony but you are together, committed and in love? 

Significant other, boyfriend/girlfriend, partner??

 

I had a great aunt who was with the same man for at least 50 years. They never married because he would lose his disability or something like that. But they were always together, always "E & R", but they were never husband and wife. I always wonder about how she really felt about that, if she was happy with it, or if she would have liked to be married. Financial constraints suck when they have to limit life's happiness.

Edited by daysofelijah
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I think because you asked, you are concerned about what others think. There are extreme responses here from it is your business to you are being deceitful. You have to decide what you can live with.  There are always going to be those that support you and what you decide and then folks who will not.    That was the gist of my pastor friend's statements to me about marrying but not filing at the court house.  '

 I would have been highly conservative about this years ago. But my life changed and knowing life is full of grays and life is not fair, certainly, no matter how well you try to play the game, taught me to be more open and tolerant in ways I never dreamed I would be. 

 

Anyway, point still.  You have to live with the choices, and you appear to be struggling with the mores of our culture and the systems we deal with, and on and on.  I wish you the best in making a decision that  works for you and your beloved.  Ultimately, YOU have to live with it. 😃

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Ps maybe you have but check the law in your state. It was 2001 when my dad entered a nursing home and was there 5 yrs.  My mother hated going through court to verify and  show her care taking of my father, itemized spending, 50-50 split of assets.  It was for his protection.  They would not touch her car, house, contents of the home.  But their joint finances and other property were considered 50/50.  Half could have gone away.   But then she lived 12 more yrs.  That took a hit on her.  It is sad.  Save and save and gone. 

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My 2 cents.   

 

1. Is such a marriage deceitful or our own business?  I think two people's commitment to each other is between them and whatever works for them.   

2. Can we call each other husband and wife, or should that be reserved for the legally married?  I personally have no issues with people referring to their significant others as husband and wife without the piece of paper.   

3. Would you as a child, friend or relative of a couple doing this attend the wedding or feel duped if you found out it wasn’t a legal wedding? No, I would be happy to celebrate love, for me that's more important than the legal aspect.

4. Does anyone have any experience with having done this?  No

5. If we opt for a commitment/unity/hand fasting ceremony instead of a wedding, is he your husband/she your wife? For me, yes,   the commitment to each other is what makes a marriage not a piece of paper.

6. What do you call one another signifying your relationship if there is no ceremony but you are together, committed and in love? Whatever works for you!

 

The institution of marriage and the laws and rules surrounding it have evolved over time.   Different cultures have different traditions.   Traditionally marriage was about power and wealth, love within marriage wasn't even considered.   Today, society views marriage through the eyes of love.    But, marriage means money to governments and who's to say marriage definitions can't evolve again to leave the government out of it.

 

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Posted (edited)

so, basically, what you’re saying is because you have such a crappy healthcare system in your country you feel like you legally can’t get married because it could potentially bankrupt you, yes? If you want to go about this honestly, purely, then I suppose you should own it and be upfront about your reasons- and maybe even vocal advocates for change in how your country treats it’s citizens in regards to healthcare and retirement; perhaps start looking at other counties that have handled this more successfully and advocate for that kind of system here. Because you know you are not alone in this problem why not make part of your commitment, your vows, to be the change you want to see in the world? For me, personally, that would be how to get my respect for your choices- own them completely. But, I guess it’s easier for me because in my circle of friends there are probably a pretty equal number of married and unmarried and no one seems to care much either way how people do it. 

 

My only experience with this has been kinda in the opposite direction- a couple who had been together for decades in a committed relationship, deliberately unmarried for their own moral reasons, got married (the same day I did, actually) when one of them got cancer and they were worried someone else who was ‘real’ family would have more say than the partner would in regards to healthcare decisions. I was told part of the bride’s vows were- I love you so much I’m legally marrying you- i.e. going against her moral beliefs to legally make him her husband. He died in less than two years and I’ve never felt she didn’t deserve anything that piece of paper gave her even though they married ‘deceitfully’ because they spent their whole life turning their noses up at something that they ultimately participated in. I understood, had sympathy, and they were very honest and vocal about their reasons. 

 

I like the title of beloved quite a bit, might have to start using that in my own life... 

Edited by Bunny
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Posted (edited)

Sam,

 

Is long term care insurance an option for you and your intended? A consult with an attorney may provide information on some type of trust agreement to provide the type of protection you desire. 

 

Your questions reminded me of something a widowed person told me early on. The people who matter don't mind. The people who mind don't matter. That's one of the very few pieces of useful advice I received in that time. 

 

Wishing you a solution that works well for both of you and many happy, health years together. 

 

Best

Edited by soloact
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Hi Sam, my thoughts because you asked - I would be delighted to attend a ceremony, or a wedding, or a reception, or a party - really any celebration of love and joy and togetherness. How wonderful that my friends and loved ones found someone to spend their life with, and then to share it with the rest of us? That's a party. I wouldn't feel duped at all, I'd just be happy for you cuz' it sounds joyous. I say call your sweetheart whatever you wish.

 

This life, full of twists and turns and the unexpected. Lets all celebrate the good stuff. Your legal paperwork and status isn't really my business anyway. If we looked into our friends and family members legal files, we may find everyone has some surprises (or skeletons if you will.) Living as married with separate estates is probably much more common than we know. You sound intelligent and thoughtful, I too wouldn't do something legally that could possibly risk my financial security in retirement. 

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Echoing what soloact said, "those who matter don't mind. Those that mind don't matter."

 

My own mother was widowed fairly young. She'd always declared she'd never marry again. But at 14 years post widowhood, she met a man who'd been widowed for 5 years . They were about your age, 60-ish and decided to take the plunge  They are not particularly religious but had a wedding officiated by a friend and registered with the State of Arizona. Resources were combined: two houses sold and a new house, "their house" was purchased. Both were working at the time and had what might be considered the goodies of the hardworking American Middle Class. Real Estate, IRAs, investment accounts and in the case of my stepfather, a pension from his years as a university professor. Should he precede my mother in death, she will be the recipient of the pension. Should she precede him, he'll make use of the assets they have together. When both die, the five combined offspring will inherit the rest. We're all OK with that. All five benefited from loving upbringings and college educations. My mother gifted a nice amount to us as adults for weddings or down payments on our first homes, whichever we chose. Her husband did similar things with his own sons.

 

They have a wonderful relationship. My mother kept my father's name in her new marriage as that was what she was known by professionally, plus she didn't want the hassle of changing her name on her driver's license or passport or anything else. Shortly after they married, and I'm talking just a few weeks, I was widowed at 31 with 3 young children. My freshly minted stepfather stepped in, along with my mother, to provide major support, even delaying their planned honeymoon trip. This likely would have been the case whether they married or not. My kids have been shorted in the biological grandfather department but my stepfather has stepped very graciously in this role. My mother's life expanded with having sons for the first time, and additional grandchildren. Love multiplies.  They've also provided emotional and financial support for an offspring's family with a seriously ill child and one who had an economic meltdown. They're a team.

 

Your relationship may be a long one. Both could live happily and healthily into your 90s! One or both of you may need nursing or assisted living care or not - there are unknowns in life. You're to be commended for thinking and planning ahead. Money is important. But hopefully you're not being  held back by the idea that your grown children would miss out on inheritance by either one of you. And it's unlikely that a surviving spouse would be completely impoverished by the nursing care of the other.  There are benefits and consequences of marriage and cohabitation, and lots to consider in both. Either one is a viable choice. 

 

Since it sounds as though you'll do without the government filing, I'd avoid any term like "wedding", "marriage" or "husband and wife". All is good. Your friends and family who love you will want to celebrate your union. Best of luck to you and wishing you and your intended a most happy and long life together. I wish you the best.

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I'm torn about this because I would like to marry my partner, but face the same issues regarding medical problems. (And we're not nearly as well prepared, financially) As things stand right now, I love to be my partner's wife, but i don't foresee that happening.  I would be disappointed to find out the wedding I'd been to was a sham, and I'm not planning to have a fake wedding myself.  If a couple invited me to a commitment ceremony, I would go to support them, but I won't have one myself.  

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Hi Sam,

There are other ways where you can get married legally but don't have to register. Mine was arranged marriage back in India and we didn't register it for like 2 years till I need certificate for immigration purposes to Canada. I would suggest get married some other country and register there but don't have to disclose in your state or city.

 

Thanks

Manoj

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Thank you to those who are taking the time to respond to my questions. 

 

I posed my question here knowing there would be diverse opinions and ideas from those who I know would really get it, and I wanted to hear thoughts before facing many in my family, church and circle, which ever we end up doing.  I know that ultimately, it is our decision and we must accept the risks and consequences of whichever we decide. Thank you to all for your honest, thoughtful ideas and reactions either way, it is helping us both to think things through. 

 

Sam 

 

 

 

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