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I am a 70-year-old male who met a wonderful woman in February of 2019. Much to my own surprise, I proposed marriage three months later. She moved in with me and we've had a great year together. Oddly enough, if I had it to do over again, I don't think I would have proposed. The few bad times, as rare as they are, usually found me wishing I was alone. But I thought I had matured out of that. The worst possible event has convinced me otherwise.


She recently had hip replacement surgery that has left her in chronic pain and with uncertain prospects for recovery. I have become her caretaker 24/7. In addition to all the usual issues ("what happened to MY life..."), I have some experience with this. I tried to serve as a full time caretaker to my late mother afflicted with dementia some years ago. It nearly killed me. LITERALLY! I wound up in the hospital for five days.


Naturally, I would prefer not to repeat that history. I think I can do the extra laundry, clean the house and wait on my finance hand and foot. What I CANNOT do is watch her suffer in agony while waiting for the next dosage of semi-ineffective opioid pain medication. I could not watch my 92-year-old mother go through that either and when the option came to allow her to die peacefully in palliative care, it was a comparatively "easy" decision.


This is far different. Karen is only 67. Living with sexual impotency is one thing. Living with the practical circumstantial impotency of being unable to deliver a loved one from chronic pain is MY emotional disability. I want very much to end an engagement I should not have entered into much less enter into a marriage under conditions I would never ordinarily consider were I just beginning a dating relationship.


I wouldn't think of doing it at this point, however. What little family she has is several states away. And I have none. I am committed to trying to facilitate whatever recovery she might realize over the next several months. Assuming something like that happens, however, I am strongly tempted to break things off at that point so that I never have to face the possibility of something like this again.


I, myself, would rather die totally alone and racked with pain in my own bed. I would no more wish my dependency on another than to have it imposed on me.


Am I wrong?

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Charlie, I want to second what the previous poster said. Years ago, eminent science writer Jane Brody has a knee replacement . After a few days, she was still in agony. She called surgeon who told her to suck it up. She got a second opinion. She had developed some sort of infection, which was the source of the pain. Get your friend some help and talk about the marriage thing later.
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You said the few bad times found you wishing you were alone, and now this health problem just adds to that. I think it's best if you tell her you've changed your mind due to things before her surgery, but try to wait until she's able to walk. Break off the engagement before getting closer to the holidays when it could be more devastating. Offer to help her find and move to a new home (not near you) with home health care in place if needed, and you might suggest she move near her family or someone who may help her in the future.

It's going to hurt no matter how you do it, but you're both better off being honest about it now vs. later.
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I want to comment Erroxy's post.

I worked with a woman who at the time was about 65. She had lost her husband to leukemia before we started working together. She started dating a man and they got along very well traveled together, went out to eat. She told me that she would never marry again. She cared for her husband and would not do it again. She had her home and BF had his. She is now in her late 90s. He passed a few years back. They were together till his death. My Uncle did the same thing. He remained in his home, his GF in hers. It does work. There are woman who want have their independence while having a relationship too. At my age, that is the way I would go.

I suggest you just step back a little and take ur time.
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erroxy Jul 5, 2020
It seems to me your friend after taking care of her husband with leukemia "vowed" never to "marry" again because she would not want to take care of a husband again. Therefore, she "promised herself" not to enter into the deep commitment of marriage which is to love someone so deeply there is the element of "self-sacrifice". Remember the phrase "to love in sickness and in health till death does us part"?
That is the difference between deep love and just enjoying one another's company. You label your friend as desiring "independence" but in truth she doesn't want the burden that the deepest of love demands. While our society accepts divorce for many reasons, all society's and world cultures for that matter, frown on a husband or wife who abandon each other due to sickness.
I urged Charlie not to get involved with anyone because of his propensity to propose marriage and have someone move in with him. While your friend is a woman who could make the great distinction to not enter into a marriage knowing that it does involved the deepest of love and self-sacrifice, Charlie may not be capable of such self-restraint.
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One reason older people do not get married is the financial implications of doing so. Even if there is a prenuptial, Medicaid does not consider assets as individual property. Assets have become a pool where each person is now responsible for cost of health needs. When 50% of the pool is spent then the other person has the remainder for their future living expenses and health care needs and only if it has been setup properly by an attorney.

My mom was well situated financially, married at 80 to her high school sweetheart, also well situated financially, thank goodness. He paid for everything they did before facility living and passed first, enough assets to pay for his own care. Mom passed nine months later and had enough of her own assets to continue paying the cost of her care. It could have played out very differently had either of them not had the savings. Had they both understood that they would have made a different decision, I think. Both wanted inheritance for their own children.

Me, I will never marry again. Shack up maybe, for now, I enjoy my life for what it is and not having either emotional or financial responsibility for anyone but me. This should be a primary consideration for anyone considering marrying later in life.
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cherokeegrrl54 Jul 8, 2020
Amen, sister!! Agree totally
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"Which upon careful review makes me feel like the biggest, shallowest, myopic, SOB that ever walked this earth. But I do NOT have the emotional resources to be given charge over the well-being of another person, only to watch my efforts fail so miserably in the most critical area of pain management, EVEN IF IT IS THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN"

Maybe, I just think you both rushed into something too early. As they say, "the honeymoon is over". Your other comment

"She is incredibly stubborn and unfathomably vain in terms of her personal appearance and the house being neat as a pin "in case" anyone should stop by (no one ever does). She assumes people to be insanely judgemental toward the slightest imperfections -- things no reasonable person is at all likely to notice. It is disproportionate to sheer common sense."

Can you live with someone like this the rest of your life? I feel you were having second thoughts prior to her hip replacement and her surgery was just the straw that broke the camels back. This is what engagements are for, to get to know someone better as a couple. You have found out that marriage will not work. Maybe ur not cut out for this type of relationship. Thats OK. At 70 you need to live the rest of your life the way you want to. Thank God at our age there are no kids to worry about.
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SCCharlie Jul 6, 2020
I almost called it off after a major argument just two months after having proposed. I had casually remarked to an acquaintance that I had failed to file my 2018 taxes on time and was going to owe substantial penalties and interest. When I related that conversation, she went ballistic. Gave me total grief for revealing PRIVATE FINANCIAL information to a personal friend.

Let me repeat that: she was PERSONALLY HUMILIATED about a tax liability I had incurred before we ever MET and that I had CHOSEN to share with someone else simply because I had not regarded it has any big damn deal.

I told her it was none of her business what I chose to confide to MY friends about ME personally. That's when I first wondered where her insecurity came from. I had seen nothing like it before.
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Okay, the tax story is just too much. This lady has some serious control issues. I would not proceed with this relationship.

Charlie, I would pull back on the "waiting on her hand and foot". I would not make any comments about PT. I would encourage you to start getting out of the house/apartment more, at least a couple of times a day. Make yourself less available.

Get yourself a consult with a lawyer well versed in real estate to give you advice about the best way to get out of the co-ownership situation. Find out about breach of promise laws in your state.

And please, find yourself a therapist.
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SCCharlie Jul 7, 2020
I agree with everything you said. But that is a long list of things I need to do for ME while necessarily taking care of someone living in OUR house. You're not wrong. Just sayin'....
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Give her a chance to heal and get better. Don’t marry her. You said you proposed after only 3 months. When I got married I waited 4 years. If you need to break up with her do it. Don’t string her along and then say you don’t want to get married. Be upfront with her but at least give her some time to heal.
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Erroxy, I think that you're wrong (and mean, but that's besides the point). One elder cannot "do it all" without help if someone is essentially bedbound. Just not possible. Nothing to do with how much you love the other person.

I think that Charlie IS suffering from burnout and also from a bit of PTSD; he remembers trying to care solo for his mother and knows what happened to him then. Self-preservation is different from selfishness.

We more or less constantly tell folks here that they need to take care of themselves first, or else who is going to take care of the person they are caring for? Charlie needs to try getting some help in, maybe getting himself some therapy and setting boundaries about how much he is willing to do. Boundaries make for healthy relationships and good marriages. (I have the tee shirt, as the saying goes).
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SCCharlie Jul 7, 2020
Yeah, I'll just say that I think Erroxy is more than slightly presumptuous in assuming that my primary dissatisfaction is the burden of "waiting on someone" while not getting my quota of anticipated sex.

Let me assure you of one thing, Errox. If I do break this engagement (something thousands of people do every day) and if I build that little hermit hut out in the middle of nowhere as has been suggested, doing without sex from the legion of arrogant, know-it-alls like yourself will be the easiest sacrifice I would have to make.

Karen's love for me is the major energy force that is sustaining me RIGHT NOW. And I will repeat what I said in my second post as to the current source of MY greatest pain and torment: I do NOT have the emotional resources to be given charge over the well-being of another person, only to watch my efforts fail so miserably in the most critical area of pain management, EVEN IF IT IS THROUGH NO FAULT OF MY OWN.

I could have added, "and the thought of having to watch my loved one suffer in agony for a period of years due to a possible chronic, incurable condition is a curse I simply cannot bear."

For anyone to equate that torture to whatever distaste I have for doing her laundry in addition to mine makes me sick to my stomach.
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Charlie, I am wondering what you would have done if Karen had never had this condition.

IMO, you seemed to have moved very swiftly, probably too swiftly, on marriage proposal and joint house ownership, which has added complications to your life.

Are you right or wrong? Not sure. Marrying or staying with someone you feel you can't care for when they are in dire straits seems wrong to me. That would appear to me to rule out any marriage for you

I do think that your feelings/reactions now are, at least in part, tied to your experiences with your mother and that stay or go you would benefit from some professional help in working these out. It seems to me you are not ready for the commitment of marriage.

That doesn't make you right or wrong or a bad person We all have made some unwise decisions and, hopefully, learn from those experiences.

I commend you on the proposed path of staying with Karen until she has a way ahead independent of you, and of you getting legal advice to resolve the complications of your present arrangement.
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SCCharlie Jul 10, 2020
You are absolutely right on target. I am a horrible candidate for marriage and the experiences tied to my mother which (as you again correctly understood) are of such a severe emotional baggage cart as to suggest professional intervention proves my incompetency.

But in many respects, this is less about my mother than the poor example set by my father. But merely bringing THAT up only cues the brick throwers here to start assaulting me for making excuses for myself.

But, yes, I know EXACTLY where you are coming from, and you are right.
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Charlie; one more thing.

When my 80 year old granma fell and broke her hip in 1965 and had hip surgery, she assumed she was going to be bedridden (because that's what happened before 1965, when Medicare came into effect). She called all her friends rather excitedly and said "I'm going to be an invalid; my daughters will have to care for me". She sounded pretty jazzed about the prospect. (note that my grandmother was an extremely controlling person; a teacup that she had finished with had to be removed IMMEDIATELY; none of us ever lived up to her expectations for neatness, sad to say).

At the time, my mother had 3 kids, one a toddler of 2 years. My aunt worked full time. Who was going to wait on bedridden grandma was beyond me.

Mom said to grandma; "there is no one to care for you; you will go to rehab and learn to walk again with a walker and you will go back to your apartment in the Bronx. We will come visit and clean each week, but we cannot take on your full time care".

Grandma was astounded. And as mad as a wet hen. "How can you sene me to live amongst strangers?". "My how you've changed". "I'll never speak to you again". And so on.

Mom and aunt stood firm. Grandma got better. Life went on.

Don't discount the idea that some folks enjoy being waited on Charlie. Stand firm in the idea that you CANNOT do this all by yourself.
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