So why are people tying the knot later in life?
"Things have really changed for the older
population," said Dr. Jean Kaske from the Behavioral Health
Center in Grafton. "They are healthier than ever and living
longer due to the advances in medical care. It just makes sense that
they would want to live happy and fulfilling lives and marrying again
may be part of that."
Kaske, who counsels many older adults, says there
are many reasons for the surge in second or even subsequent marriages
among the older population. Companionship, stability, security and
sexual longevity are some of the reasons people cite for their desire
to marry again. While most adult children are thrilled that their
aging parents are finding love for a second time, there are also some
underlying issues of concern, not only for the older couple, but for
their children as well.
"Health issues are a primary concern,"
said Kaske. "Older folks tend to be very focused on medical
conditions, so I would strongly advise people to find out about the
health of their intended spouse and to decide if they can live with
those findings. Is one person going to have to take care of the other?
These are things that should be considered up front."
Kaske says she counsels older newlyweds who feel
that their spouses are putting a damper on their active lifestyles.
Sometimes one spouse may not share the others enthusiasm for
"The best way to prevent any negative feelings
after the marriage is to deal with them openly and honestly before the
marriage," advises Kaske.
A second hurdle for folks is the whole inheritance
issue. Adult children often seem to be more concerned with this than
the couple is. "If, for instance, an older man re-marries after
the death of his wife, the adult children worry about where the money
will go after their father dies and about whether or not this new
woman will share the inheritance with her stepchildren."
Adults often worry about the intentions of someone
wanting to marry their older parents and often have difficulty
accepting someone new until some kind of trust is established.
Blending established and older families can be a challenge.
"Sometimes the problems lie completely with the
grown kids," said Kaske. "There is definitely a blending
issue to deal with. You have to remember that change is very difficult
for many people. Having to accept a new stepparent can be very
traumatic for adult children."
Kaske says that change is expected when younger
people marry, but is not as widely accepted when people are in their
70s or 80s.
Adults often question why their aging parent feels
the need to get
remarried. Some feel that the living parent should stay widowed after
the death of the other parent out of respect. Some children may even
decide to be unaccepting of their parents choice of a new spouse,
which can create dissension in the family.
"I would advise people whose parents are in
this situation to welcome the new stepparent into the family with
optimism," warns Kaske. "Theyve probably buried a spouse
and theyve been through enough. Let them enjoy the relationship,
even though it may not be what you want. Be supportive."
There is no doubt that love certainly transcends the
age barrier. Proof abounds in the relationship of 89-year-old Wally
Barrons and his blushing bride of ten years, Betty Sipos. The two
widowers met while both were residents of the Lake Terrace Apartments
in Oconomowoc, a senior living complex.
"One day Wally simply came knocking on my door
and invited me to play cards with some friends," said Sipos.
"We had so much fun together and found out we had a lot in
The two enjoyed dating, spending time at their lake
cottages, going to movies and playing cards with friends. Wally says
he knew she was the right girl for him and asked her to marry him one
day when they were out for a walk.
"I didnt get down on one knee, though,"
Excitement ran through the senior community as word
of the impending marriage was announced.
The night before the big day in August of 1992,
Wally and Betty were enjoying a quiet evening together in Bettys
apartment when Betty thought she heard someone fall in the hallway.
When she opened the door to investigate, she and Wally were stunned to
discover over 100 residents armed with pots, pans, washboards and
anything else that made noise, cheerily pounding away, making for one
of the noisiest shivarees they had ever witnessed.
"This was a tradition among the old farm
families to give the couple a
shivaree the night before the wedding. We were so surprised,"
The next day, the couple was married at Bettys
sons home on Golden Lake, a precious piece of property that has
been in the family since 1891. The newlyweds honeymooned in Sturgeon
Betty has five children from her first marriage and
Wally has three daughters from his first marriage. The couple say
their children have always been supportive of their marriage and feel
very blessed to have such wonderful kids.
"My family is very loving and so is Wallys,"
explained Sipos. "There was never any problem with our
relationship. Everyone was very happy for us."
Wally and Betty say they feel lucky to have each
Although the two are very much in love, they dont
forget the love they shared with their late spouses, either. "Ive
been blessed with two great husbands," Sipos said warmly.
Jim Morningstar, clinical psychologist and director
of Transformations, Inc. Counseling Center in Milwaukee, agrees that
marriage for seniors is a good, healthy step. Speaking as both a
professional and from personal experience, Morningstar has been
witness to the benefits of these relationships.
"My own father remarried at 70," explained
Morningstar. "And I can tell you that the marriage gave him a new
lease on life. I am so grateful and happy he took that step."
Morningstar also agrees with Kaske in that adult
children sometimes do have problems with their older parents getting
"The biggest problem I see is that adults have
got this stable image of how their family is set up," said
Morningstar. "Someone new comes into the picture and suddenly
things change. Its tough for many people."
Morningstar says that much of the confusion can be
avoided by keeping the lines of communication open with family members
and by securing a prenuptial agreement with their intended spouses.
"Prenuptial agreements are vital tools for
people of this age," said Morningstar. "So much has already
been promised and established in these families that people need to be
on the ball and think about protecting these promises."
Morningstar says that doesnt mean things cant
be changed or "tweaked" a little if necessary, but that its
important that both of the families involved can feel comfortable and
secure with the agreement.
The best advice Morningstar says he has for seniors
who are looking for love and companionship is to simply get out and do
the things you really like to do.
"It is among those people you will find someone
who has the same interests as you do," he explained.
Morningstars father Andrew Scholz is now 85 years
old and celebrating 16 years of marriage to his wife Ruth. Andrew and
Ruth met at their church, where they were both members of the widowers
club. In addition to enjoying many of the same interests, Morningstar
says his father has been showered with a dose of culture in the
"Dad has discovered my stepmothers love of
opera and travel," said Morningstar. "She has also helped
him to put together his book of poetry, which has now been published.
I think Dad has learned how important it is to cherish every single
day and with Ruths love and support, he is living out his