Some Seniors 'Shacking Up' Rather Than Remarrying

Betty Jo Tucker and Tom Clark were college sweethearts in Beaumont, Texas, 52 years ago.

After marrying other people, and then losing their spouses, they found each other again five years ago. They have been dating ever since.

"It was as if it was the first time … and man, I fell in love head over heels again," Tucker said. "I thought, 'How can this be, at my age?' "

Tucker and Clark are part of a growing trend: They live together and would love to get married, but won't for financial reasons.

The number of senior citizens cohabitating without getting married has doubled in the past decade, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Experts say it is likely to to increase as the baby boom generation gets older.

"The term is 'shacking up,' " said Steve Slon, editor of AARP The Magazine. "They're not ashamed of it, and they're actually getting benefits from doing so."

Financial Reasons

For some older Americans, getting remarried might mean giving up a former spouse's pension and medical benefits.

For Tucker and Clark, both on fixed incomes, it's just not worth it.

"Its very impractical for us to do so -- it's the money," Tucker said. "I would lose Social Security. I would also lose the retirement [benefits] that I get from my husband."

Another reason for not getting married is Tucker's children's objections.

"I think that they were concerned about their inheritance, really," Tucker said.

But even without marriage, Tucker and Clark still will have each other.

"We hope to spend the rest of our lives together," Tucker said. "We hope to have many more years when we're able to run and play."

"That's the nice thing," Clark added, "to have someone to be able to share all these things with."