A Guide to Navigating Marriage and Romance in Your Golden Years

By Caralee Frederic

Special to Principle Skills

By Michelle Peterson

If you’re considering getting married later in life, you aren’t alone. Increasingly, people are choosing to tie the knot in their senior years. A late-life marriage brings some benefits. For example, both parties will likely be more financially secure and established in their careers—or may even be retired. However, there are unique considerations to keep in mind when marrying in your golden years.

Principle Skills Relationship Center is a resource hub designed to help partners live their best lives. This guide provides pointers for older people who are getting ready to walk down the aisle.

Reconsider your living arrangements

If you and your spouse cohabit, you will have an extra piece of real estate on your hands. You can sell or rent the extra space. There are some pros and cons of either option. For example, selling will give you a good amount of equity, while renting will bring in a steady income stream. If you’re thinking about renting, make sure you have the energy needed to handle the role of landlord. Alternatively, you can hire a property management company to take care of tasks like vetting tenants, collecting rent, and doing maintenance.

Figure out how to integrate households

One of the advantages of marrying later in life is that your kids have likely already left the nest. While you don’t have to worry about integrating two different families under a single roof, there are other considerations. For example, if one or both of you has pets, you need to make sure all involved are comfortable with the new cohabitation arrangement. You will also need to pare down your belongings or you’ll end up with two of everything.

Get your marital paperwork in order

With the basic logistics figured out, you can get to the fun part of planning your actual nuptials! Keep in mind that getting married requires more than a simple stroll down the aisle. You need to officially apply for a marriage license in your jurisdiction. The paperwork varies depending on the state. You can look up your area’s legal requirements via this database on US Marriage Laws.

Update your estate planning documentation

Once you’ve tied the knot, it’s time to take care of some other paperwork. One important point is your estate planning. This documentation determines what happens to your assets after you pass on. This can include drafting a will, creating a test, defining medical directives, and designating powers of attorney. Talk to your new spouse and children about these issues before solidifying them in legally binding paperwork.

Figure out if you want to combine finances

When you start thinking about estate planning, it’s also time to determine whether you will keep your assets separate or combine them going forward. For instance, if you want to combine your money, you might get a joint checking account at the bank. If you make changes in banking details like this, make sure to update payment information for accounts like retirement funds or Social Security benefits. You can update SSA banking info online.

Determine how marriage changes insurance

Getting married can also impact your health insurance. While you and your spouse don’t have to be on the same plan, this may be able to save you money in the long run. Compare your policies including premiums, deductibles, copayments, and out-of-pocket maximums. This will help determine the best insurance arrangement for you both. There are also other insurances to consider, like car insurance. If your spouse drives your car, are they covered?

Make sure to update tax paperwork

After getting married, you will also need to update your tax paperwork. Decide whether you will file jointly or independently going forward. You also need to file the right tax forms in the future. H&R Block provides a guide to figuring out your taxes after marriage and also touches on other relevant points like Social Security. If you’re confused, it’s best to hire a professional to help. You don’t want to get in trouble with the Internal Revenue Service.

Start planning for long-term care

As people get older, they become more prone to chronic illnesses. While it’s not fun to think about, it’s important to plan for the possible need for long-term care. There are many options available, from nursing homes to in-home care. Talk to your spouse about your respective wishes, factoring in the other person as well. For instance, if one person moves to a nursing home, will the other join them? When planning, also consider the financial aspect.

Set up a regular date night

With the above logistical points covered, you can start focusing on enjoying your marriage. Make an effort to try new things and avoid getting in a rut. Designate a weekly date night where you try something new. For example, you might take part in a painting class or cook a meal. If you’re into sports, pick up LA Dodgers tickets and get away for the weekend. You can get discounted tickets via sites like TickPick, where you can filter options according to date, price, and seat. You can even use an interactive seating chart to see what your view will be like.

Establish a joint hobby

Having a hobby you share is another way to solidify your marriage. If you’re both retired, you might start a business together. Here’s a great guide full of business ideas you can start even after 50. It’s a wonderful way to boost your income while staying active in retirement. When deciding on a venture, consider your respective skills, schedules, and passions. Also, make sure to research funding options, as you don’t want to blow your retirement savings.

Be open to compromise

Finally, if there’s one key to a successful marriage later in life, it’s to keep an open mind. As you’ve gotten older, you may have become more set in your ways. However, adapting to a relationship with someone new will require evolving. Be open to changes and compromises. For example, if your spouse wants you to join them at their book club, give it a try—at least once. You’ll broaden your horizons personally while enriching your relationship.

Principle Skills Relationship Center is one of the few therapy practices in Colorado that specializes in treating couples with The Gottman Method. The Center integrates the Method in treating betrayal, trauma, and sexual compulsions and addictions. Call 719-494-7412.