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Advice & More June 2014

What's the Going Price for a Good Spouse These Days?

By Teresa Ambord

Okay now, I’m no hot young chickadee. But as we talked, he was literally looking me up and down, like he was a starving man and I was the last buttercream cupcake in the bakery window. I saw him look at my bare ring finger, and then he tilted his head and said in a low voice, “I’m lookin’ for a woman.”

How much would you pay for a good husband or wife? You've heard of mail order brides… but that’s pretty risky. You could always look online for a spouse if you’re not having any luck the old fashioned way. But online isn’t for everyone. The anonymity of the Internet allows people to hide behind outdated pictures and profiles which may be more fiction than fact. How about an old fashioned matchmaker? Not like your busybody cousin who’s always trying to fix you up. A real live, professional matchmaker.

Currently, there are about 3,000 professional matchmakers in the United States, according to an article in the New York Times (NYT). Some of them work exclusively with those of us 50 and up, and others take a broader range of ages. There are even training centers to become a matchmaker. If you want to hire a matchmaker, it’s definitely more personal than online dating, but you should know… it ain’t cheap.


The Cost of Happily Ever After

One matchmaker who was mentioned in the NYT article charges clients $3,600 to sign up. That fee is good for up to three years, so assuming you work with the matchmaker for the full three years, the cost averages out to $100 a month. That’s not too bad, but naturally, anyone who uses a matchmaker hopes to find true love in a much shorter period of time. So let’s say you meet him or her in the first six months. You’ve still paid the full $3,600, so the average price per month jumps to $600.

That’s not all. Once a mate is found, the happy couple owes this particular matchmaker another $7,200, which I guess is a finder’s fee of sorts. The bottom line is, whether you meet Mr. Wonderful or Miss Right in the first month of your contract or the last month, you and your beloved will have paid a total of $14,400. Ouch.


A Little Rusty, but with Advantages

One reason why people opt for a real live matchmaker is, they might have been out of the dating game a very long time. If you’re a man who was married 40 years and then became a widower, it has probably been at least four decades since you asked a woman out. It makes sense that you would feel a little awkward, trying to kindle a relationship with someone from scratch. For some men who find themselves alone again, they are either too nervous to try, or they bowl women over.

Not long ago I was standing in line at my bank, when a nice looking, much older gentleman started talking to me. He was a rancher whose wife had died a year or so earlier. Okay now, I’m no hot young chickadee. But as we talked, he was literally looking me up and down, like he was a starving man and I was the last buttercream cupcake in the bakery window. I saw him look at my bare ring finger, and then he tilted his head and said in a low voice, “I’m lookin’ for a woman.”

I knew he was lonely, but that proclamation didn’t exactly sweep me off my feet. We talked a little more, and then it was his turn to go to the teller window. A moment later I heard him say to the female teller, “I’m lookin’ for a woman.” He was probably just a lonely guy who wanted a dinner companion, but I think he needs a new approach or the help of a matchmaker. (Then again, a few weeks later I saw him in Walmart… with a woman.)


A Little Coaching May Help

This sort of thing is why matchmakers often prefer to be called dating coaches, according to the NYT article. They help clients past the awkwardness. One male coach mentioned in the article actually accompanies older male clients into social situations, to help them pinpoint what they are doing wrong. The coach sits with clients who are trying to engage women in conversation. Then, if the client strays into dangerous or boring territory, the coach elbows him subtly as a cue to change or drop the subject.

Just in case you need a little conversation help, here are some of the tips this coach offers to seniors who have been out of the dating game awhile.

  • Don’t trot out your list of medications, conditions, ailments. Of course if the doctor says you only have six months to live, you might want to mention that before you make wedding plans. Otherwise, leave the pill bottles and the dirty details till later.
  • Whether you are divorced or widowed, don’t talk at length about the person who is now missing from your life. You don’t want to present him or her either as a saint or a beast. If you had a wonderful wife and she died, just say “she was a wonderful woman and I miss her,” and leave the rest for later. If your husband was hell-on-wheels just say “it wasn’t a match made in heaven, but we gave it our best shot.”
  • Hold the photos for now. There’s time for that on future dates, but even then, don’t overdo it.

If you are interested in the services of a matchmaker, the New York Times article mentions a few, Peggy Wolman, Judith Gottesman, and Lisa Clampitt, who is the cofounder of The Matchmaker Institute. Just be prepared, because again, this service is not cheap.

P.S. the Matchmaker Institute also offers the opportunity to become professional matchmaker if you are so inclined. Hey, if you’re doing it already on an amateur basis, you may as well make a few bucks.


Listening is Better than Catnip

If conversation with eligible members of the opposite sex feels awkward, remember this: everybody likes to talk about him or herself. Ask enough questions to keep the person talking, and chances are, he or she will go away thinking you are a fabulous conversationalist, even if you said very little. That’s the power of listening well.

Suppose you are interested in someone who is encouraging you to do all the talking. You may love that, but don’t leave without asking a few questions yourself. Otherwise the other person may think you either have zero interest in him or her, or that you’re on the pompous side. A wise young man told me recently, if a man is interested in you, he’ll want to learn all he can about you. Same for a woman, but I believe we hens are more curious by nature. Bottom line, being the talker is fine if you found someone who wants to listen, but if you want to be your own matchmaker, show some curiosity.


Teresa Ambord is a former accountant and Enrolled Agent with the IRS. Now she writes full time from her home, mostly for business, and about family when the inspiration strikes.

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