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14 October 2008

Truth is Stranger than Fiction. My mother-in-law-a widow since late May, just met a man over the Internet, drove to his state, and MARRIED HIM on the way back.[More:] Did I mention she's in her early seventies and he's in his fifties? Did I mention they just met on the FREAKING INTERNET????

Since when do seventysomething fresh widows marry someone almost two decades younger they just met on the 'net?????

And this guy has never been married. He apparently spent his life taking care of his old mother.

My first thought was con artist, but then her estate is tied up in a trust and all the "kids" get a share when she goes. But, STILL.

Oh, and my husband is the only one she's told.

This is her fourth husband, btw. The last marriage was happy and lasted over thirty years, but the previous two were...problematic and short.

Oh, and one last thing. This new guy has the same first name as her dearly departed last hubby.

Did I mention they just met on the FREAKING INTERNET????

You do realize the audience for this post, yes?
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 14 October | 19:45
People are strange. Very strange.

(But I can't hate. A good friend from HS met some dude on the internet back then, ended up skipping about a week of school to go meet him [I gave her a tent in case he was creepy so she didn't have to stay with him] and she came back, thrilled that everything went so swimmingly. They got married when I was a ...sophomore?junior? in college. Currently going through a nasty, NASTY divorce.)
posted by sperose 14 October | 19:51
TPS, I understand folks meet on the internet.

But this is weird. Let me outline.

1. Her husband died this past May.
2. She is in her early seventies. And, bless her heart, looks it.
3. She had never laid eyes on this fellow till this past week.
4. They got married on the way back from that first meeting.
5. He is almost two decades younger.
6. Never been married. No kids.
7. She's only told my husband, as far as I know.

I am running out of red flags, here.
posted by bunnyfire 14 October | 19:56
Yea, that situation is pretty weird, I'll give you that. I think it's funny how internet dating is spreading to the popuation at large, including widows in their 70s! I can't imagine my grandmother marrying someone on the internet...
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 14 October | 19:59
I'd say keep a double, triple, quadruple eye on any assets she has. And on any strange behavior on either of their parts. 50s and 70s makes it double fishy imho.
posted by DarkForest 14 October | 20:08
Well, DF, that's how I feel about it, but as I said, the property is tied up in trust. Cuz her stepson would have his hands on all of it otherwise.

Unfortunately she's in Colorado and we are in North Carolina. And as for strange behavior? Well, let's just say this story is one of many I could tell about that side of the family. But this one definitely does beat all.
posted by bunnyfire 14 October | 20:25
He's gotta either be a scammer or a psycho. My bet's on a scam of some sort.
posted by DarkForest 14 October | 20:35
Well, maybe SHE's running the scam on HIM. Could be, right?
posted by Miko 14 October | 20:47
At this point I vote psycho. Either harmless nutter or other kind. Oh, how I hope he's a harmless nutter...Miko, she's not the scamming sort.

Out west, where there are fewer folks (and she does live out in a sparsely populated zone, plus this dude's from Montana and I'm guessing he's also from a rural area) people tend to be a bit....different.

I hope he doesn't turn out to be dangerous. It's one thing to lose money (and I know of women who have been scammed that way, and it's awful) but quite another thing to be with...*shudder* know .

My husband thinks he's kinda mouse'y. Maybe he has the kink of liking older, OLDER gals. This world IS full of odd, ahem, interests, after all.

posted by bunnyfire 14 October | 21:06
If there is less than full transparency in her assets, then that would be a big red flag.

I hope it "ends" well and they are happy but I don't blame you for being taken aback.
posted by danf 14 October | 21:29
This is why important for marriage to remain a sacred institution between some old dude and some older chick who met recently on the internet and thought, "Whatever."
posted by ColdChef 14 October | 21:34
and ColdChef FTW!

dude, I am sad that we never got a chance to meet when I lived in NOLA
posted by special-k 14 October | 21:37
ColdChef, in all seriousness, part of this is this woman canNOT have had enough time to mourn her former husband. They'd been married over thirty years, and his brain tumor took, hm, a little over a year to kill him. (He had the same kind of tumor Kennedy has.)

Having known a few widows, I do know they sometimes quickly remarry (and repent at leisure) but, wow.
posted by bunnyfire 14 October | 21:54
This may be just one of those things where you have to realize that (a) they're adults, (b) you aren't in a position to control, condemn, approve, deny, cause it, or cure it, and (c) things will work themselves out. You might not think this is appropriate for her, but it's not really up to you, and I bet she either doesn't give a hoot or doesn't want to be judged, or she would have asked everyone in her family first. So the best course is just to accept, be as nice as you can to the guy, and let life's events unfold in the fullness of their natural time...perhaps using the time you'd have been stewing over this to concentrate on things which you CAN control. It's more relaxing.
posted by Miko 14 October | 22:11
BUT STEWING IS SO MUCH FUN! (I don't have a crazy-marrying MIL, but I have my own set of crazy friends with crazy problems).
posted by ThePinkSuperhero 14 October | 22:22
This does look weird but I really hope it's true love.
posted by arse_hat 14 October | 22:32
When I'm 70-something and I've lost my mate and I end up finding a way to make myself feel better and to give my life more meaning (even if that meaning is somewhat mysterious to outsiders), my descendants and friends and other relatives better damn well be supportive, else I'll die on the spot and haunt the living fuck out of them.
posted by mudpuppie 14 October | 22:36
"spent his life taking care of his old mother" and "con artist" don't really click together... so, if the first if true, the second is unlikely. Maybe having spent most of his life taking care of an older woman, he just wants to spend the rest of his life taking care of an older woman, which sounds kind of ooky since it was his Ma, but what I'm saying is that maybe it's just the only dynamic that he feels comfortable with. It sounds like they are both really missing the companionship of someone they spent a lifetime with.
posted by taz 14 October | 22:37
Oh dear.

This sounds like something my mother (widowed for 10 years) is up to.

She has a new boyfriend, who lives several hours away. She went to visit him, I was half expecting her to come home engaged, which, luckily, she didn't. He's coming to spend the weekend with her this weekend, as it's her birthday. I can just tell I'm not going to like him.

I wonder if he's out to get her money. She's not really listening to reason.

posted by jonathanstrange 14 October | 22:44
I'd feel so much better if she had, oh, I don't know, GOTTEN TO KNOW HIM FIRST.

But I think Taz has it, really. At least to me that's the best case scenario.

Mudpuppie, we certainly won't stand in the way of her happiness, but I'd like to think we do care about little things like personal safety when meeting new people. Arg.

If this guy is nice to her and doesn't rip her off, that's all we ask. I just wish she could have, well, met a local fella.
posted by bunnyfire 14 October | 23:09
I mean, Britney Spears vets her guys more carefully, ya know?
posted by bunnyfire 14 October | 23:11
You sure about that?
posted by puke & cry 14 October | 23:40
What taz said, I think.

My uncle, after my aunt died, got into a relationship with a really young woman who used him as a sugar daddy, moved into his house with her girlfriend and her girlfriend's kid, got him to buy her a car ...

He actually had to sell the house (which he should have done anyway) to disentangle from her. But when he was up here, based on their phone conversations there was some real affection.

Yeah, it happens. Doesn't need the internet to happen, either.
posted by stilicho 15 October | 00:15
She sounds like my sister, but a couple of decades on. My 52-year-old sister's latest 'soulmate' is 20.
posted by essexjan 15 October | 01:10
Man, Jan, i hope you are joking.
posted by ethylene 15 October | 01:12
Pretty sure she's not. Actually essexjan's sister is the first thing that came to mind when i read this.
posted by puke & cry 15 October | 01:30
I'd like to think we do care about little things like personal safety when meeting new people.

I think "we" just may have differing versions of what counts as personal safety. I love this story and I wish your mother-in-law every happiness. We should all be so lucky.
posted by jessamyn 15 October | 07:55
No, eth, Not joking. She's not told me about him, but I have my sources and resources to find out what she's up to. They both plan on lying to me and his parents when the time comes to announce their cohabitation about their respective ages. He has no job (of course) and is such a moron that he spells the word "couldn't" as "c-u-n-t".
posted by essexjan 15 October | 08:00
bunnyfire, I can certainly appreciate your reservations about this.

But she is a grown woman.

And I'm willing to bet that it's not the weirdest relationship out there.
posted by jason's_planet 15 October | 09:13
There's a chance that she knows him pretty well. When did they meet? Was it before your FIL's death, or after? Even if after, perhaps they bonded in grief and found a lot of relief and hope in talking to one another. Perhaps they found a way to conceive of the concept of "future," which is pretty hard to look forward to after the death of a loved one.

Talking to someone at great length is a great way to get to know them. "The internet" is pretty vague - on the one hand, it sounds so silly - there are plenty of superficial and shallow relationships that begin (and often end) online. But it doesn't always end there for everyone. The internet is more than just a water cooler to chat with strangers at, it's a powerful communications tool, and when people want to communicate, it's pretty damn effective. You can chat for hours, you can write long epistles, you can exchange photos and scanned documents, you can recommend new sites and information, give illustrated talks about your life and family, stay in touch at all hours of the day and evening, yadda yadda yadda. The fact that they "met on the internet" just doesn't tell you how well they know each other. Could be very little, could be deeply. Living together 24/7 will begin a new phase for them, and there may be problems associated with that, or there may not. It's just a matter of giving her space and time to find out what this phase will be like. Sure, it could end in divorce and maybe it's unhealthy or a phase that both are going through, and there's some chance of risk to her. But yeah, she's been around the block and she's decided this is what's right for her now.

The advice I would give the family is not to judge/condemn this choice. Be as open and welcoming as you can so she knows she can open up to you IF there is a problem one day. Ask her open-ended, friendly questions (as you might about any other new relationship in your family's life) to give her an opportunity to talk about her relationship comfortably - "What drew you to him? What things do you have in common? What do you like to do together? Is there anything about him that worries you? Would you like to join us for dinner/the holidays? We'd love to get to know him better."

If you run around cluck-clucking and raising eyebrows, she'd be likely to feel alone and rejected and not disclose concerns to you. Which really would put her at greater distance from the family, and, if you're worried about risk to her, you don't want her feeling like you've closed her off.

And there's always the very real possibility that this is exactly the best thing for both of these people, maybe just right here and right now, maybe forever...but the only way to know is sit back and find out.

"The music of what happens...that is the finest music in the world."
posted by Miko 15 October | 10:21
Count me in with the skeptical crowd, and here's why I empathize with you:

Southern California friend's father dies of cancer, not long after her infant son's leukemia went into remission. Parents had been very happily married for years, and lived near Washington DC. Daughter is devastated because of the roller coaster her life has been since learning about both illnesses, and then she gets a shock greater than both.

Her parents had been very progressive, liberal, etc. Mother met a federal judge who's conservative and best friends or something like that with Karl Rove. Mother decides to start dating this guy a few months after her husband's death. His wife died of cancer, too, and no, they did not meet in a support group.

Daughter feels not just doubly lost because her mother's now a born-again conservative, but betrayed because she feels as if her mother doesn't care about her hurt emotions over her father's death. Son's cancer is still in remission, but he's now been going through problems with his hearing and is now legally deaf. Mother claims she wants to come out and help after a surgery, then flakes on her, then says she wants to bring the new boyfriend.

Daughter CANNOT deal.

Sound familiar?
posted by TrishaLynn 15 October | 12:18
Daughter CANNOT deal.

It's a bummer, and sounds lonely, but she can and will deal. Things change, people change. All you can hope to do is communicate openly and try to let go. Others' lives are their own. One of life's hardest lessons.
posted by Miko 15 October | 13:20
There's a chance that she knows him pretty well. When did they meet? Was it before your FIL's death, or after

After. The death was on the same day my son graduated from USAFA. Which means less than five months ago. They laid eyes on each other for the first time right before they MARRIED.

I'm sorry. I can get she wanted to remarry. I can get that at that age why waste time...but she has absolutely no freaking way to know who this guy genuinely is, nor does he know who SHE really is. This was a totally random move on her part because she just cannot imagine living life without having a man, ANY man, in her house. And that saddens me.

Just so you all know, no one here is gonna give her a hard time. My husband really didn't grow up with her after age 8 (long story involving being snatched away by his "real" dad) and we've only gotten to see her a handful of times in the past few years. Her life is her business. But we like her (and of course my husband loves his mother) and neither one of us would like to see her hurt or taken advantage of. If this works out for them, I will be thrilled but I think we have every right to be concerned for her safety-and for that matter, her emotional wellbeing.

I have friends who have gone thru serial marriages-having chosen men they thought were wonderful who then turned out after the wedding to be abusers and such-and after one friend's third marital breakup she admitted to me that she knew her main problem was she kept thinking she had to have a guy. She never took the time to really get her own issues straight or to mind any red flags in her relationships. And I have known widows who were lonely and remarried too soon and wound up regretting it intensely-and again, winding up having to split up. I have known a woman who married and the guy stayed around just long enough to totally clean out her bank account.

I have seen so many marital trainwrecks of this type that I cannot help but be extremely concerned with my m-i-l's actions. But yes, she's an adult, and she can make stupid choices if she so desires.

Hopefully this will be the one in a million thing that does work. And hey, after all, I got engaged to my own husband the day before we went on our first date. ;-)
posted by bunnyfire 15 October | 16:46
So is this those small town family values in action?

after all, I got engaged to my own husband the day before we went on our first date. ;-)

Yeah, I think you really have no room to be inviting us to criticize another member of your family now, if you ever did.

Best wishes to all.

posted by Miko 15 October | 22:54
Miko, what's your point?

I certainly hope that my desire not to see her get ripped off or killed by someone she barely knows is not OFFENSIVE to you. Because Lord knows that extremely nonsexy old women marry men way younger than them that they barely know EVERY DAY.

This situation is totally incongruous in so many ways it isn't funny. If it was your own relative pulling this crap I sure hope you'd have some concerns.
posted by bunnyfire 15 October | 23:02
Let go, and let God.
posted by Miko 15 October | 23:47
Hmmm, same day, different ... (you know how this goes).
posted by dg 16 October | 00:48
Need I bring up the fact that my clueless stepdaughter moved to Texas (from Jersey) to live "forever" with a boy she met on MySpace who was still in high school? It lasted just over three weeks. I never realized "forever" is so short.

Other than that, I think it's possible for two truly honest, open individuals to find love through the internet. I met Mr. V through the personals, it's the same thing.
posted by redvixen 16 October | 18:49
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