What About May-December Relationships

Question: Dear Luise: I was wondering if you would comment on what a large age difference can mean in a relationship. Do you have any experience with that? I’m 22 and the man I’m interested in is 41. I’d appreciate your thoughts. Thanks in advance. Lynda P.

Answer: Dear Lynda: I’m in a relationship with a man who is 16 years older than I am. So, yes this is a familiar situation for me. However, I didn’t make the leap when I was your age. I was 62 when I married a man who was 78.

It would seem to me that one of the biggest issues would involve whether you want children or not. I know of a situation similar to yours where the husband, now in his 70s, is dealing with two teen-agers. He’s doing very well, so far, but I wouldn’t want to be in his shoes. He’s retired and their income is diminished when they need it the most, too. Things to think about.

We are all so unique. Some young people are extremely mature and some older ones are very young at heart. Such combinations often work out well.

When there is a big age difference the chance of the younger spouse being left alone needs to be faced. It might not happen but the odds are strong that it will. You may forfeit nearly two decades later on if you jump that number of years now.

You see more relationships where the man is older, but the reverse is becoming more common. I think people are still more prejudiced toward the older woman/younger guy combination, though.

If you have any doubts why not do some counseling together and look more closely at what is going on. Some younger women are looking for a “dad” and some older guys are trying to retrieve their youth.

For me, it was a matter of the heart. My guy is 94, now, and still a very active and viable partner. Yes, we missed the years of striving and child rearing together, but we have had 16 “golden years” that I wouldn’t trade for anything. One bonus is we love each other’s families and they love us.

Also a younger partner can help an older one in many ways that a partner of the same age might not be able to…like my taking over the driving when my husband’s vision started to fail. That’s a real plus for us. Blessings, Luise

6 Responses to What About May-December Relationships

  1. Lynn September 27, 2006 at 2:39 pm #

    My daughter is 35 and is involved with a man who is 62 years old. He wants to live together and not marry. I think your comments make a lot of sense, but I cant see being alone…later in life. I want her to just be friends and not get so emotionally involved. She will be giving him the best years of her life. He will have a place to live provided by her home and money, and she will be the caretaker for him as he retires. How can I make her realize what she will have in the future? She cant seem to see that far. Thanks.

  2. Luise September 28, 2006 at 12:30 pm #

    Hi Lynn: What you want and what your daughter thinks she wants don’t match, and it’s her life. I just hate that…the fact that we can’t pass on our wisdom and soften the blows from poor decisions for our kids! I have a friend, right now, that married someone 42 when she was 22. It was so exciting and glamorous then. He had so much more to offer than guys her age. Now, she’s 53 and he’s 73. He’s retired and has had a heart attack. She’s at the peak of her professional life with two teens and she wonders, regularly, what she was thinking of to get hersefl in such a spot. The truth is that she probably wan’t thinking. In your daughter’s case, the deck is sure stacked in the guy’s favor! The only encouragement I can give you is that her life won’t be over when his is. She could still move on, love again and not be alone. We never know. Blessings, Luise

  3. A. July 24, 2008 at 2:28 pm #

    This is more in response to the original question. I’ll apologize ahead of time for it being pretty long-winded 🙂

    I am 24 and have been dating my “engaged-to-be-engaged” boyfriend (39) for two years. We were introduced through mutual friends because we shared many of the same hobbies. What started out as a casual relationship for each of us quickly progressed as we each realized we were on the same page about so many values: family, careers, religion, money, etc. Even day-to-day things like how to spend an evening or how to split up chores. At first, we were both apprehensive about the age difference, but it didn’t take long at all for us to realize how well our personalities meshed. He is such a genuine, compassionate, and dedicated person in all aspects of his life. I can say without a doubt that he has helped me to realize my own potential and to become a happier, more positive, complete person than I was before.

    We both would like to start a family after we are married (neither of us has any children). One of the reasons we are not concerned about his age (as it relates to parenthood) is the fact that his own father was 45 when he was born and he has never felt that they missed out on any opportunities/experiences that other father-son pairs share. In fact, having children in your forties is becoming much more common. After the first time I saw him interacting with our friends’ young children, I knew that he was the man I wanted to raise my own children with.

    Changing pace now, career wise he has always been extremely supportive of me achieving the goals I have set for myself. He has actually encouraged me several times to pursue dreams I have had, and stood by me through the ups and downs of achieving them 🙂 One of the first things I noticed about him that I respected immediately is the fact that he has established himself in a career field where he does not make a lot of money, but every morning when he wakes up he looks forward to going to work and at night when he comes home (even after a long day) he will still say how much he loves his job and how fortunate he feels to have it.

    We have both been very fortunate to have loving, supportive families and friends who have accepted us and our relationship. We were actually quite amazed that no one questioned it (although we do get the occasional grave-robber/cradle-robber jabs in good fun). We have talked several times about what the future might hold for us. There is no denying that he will likely die before me, but then again, there is always the chance that I may go first. We each feel that there is no sense in living if you don’t actually live your life to the fullest! I have thought several times (and he has agreed with me) that I would much rather share whatever part of my life I can with him than to go the entire time without him at all.

    Touching on Lynn’s post, I don’t feel any relationship will work out if there is a lack of things like respect, commitment, and compromise. Luckily, our relationship has those and many other qualities. I’m not trying to say it’s always all sunshine and roses, but I am confident in the fact that whenever it isn’t, we have always been able to deal with the issue and come up with a solution that satisfies us both.

    When I think about the age difference in a physical sense I am not worried because my fiancee is in much better condition than many of my own peers. However, there is never a guarantee (regardless of the age of your significant other) on the condition of their health a few years down the road. Who knows, an older (or younger!) partner could turn out like Luise’s and still be kickin’ or could end up like her friend’s and have definitely slowed down.

    I guess my overall feelings are that (as in any relationship) both people need to be on the same page with their core values, understand that no relationship is perfect and that they all take work (and be willing to do that work), and that love is always a gamble and if you want to “win” (so to speak) you’ve got to stick your neck out there and have some faith/trust that the person you love is there to catch you.

    Whew! I’m off the soap-box now 🙂 Wishing each of you all the best. A.

  4. Luise July 24, 2008 at 3:09 pm #

    Thanks! Blessings, Luise

  5. K. July 29, 2008 at 1:55 pm #

    Somebody earlier made a point, which was almost my experience. It was glamorous for what he seemed to bring, as well as mature enough to communicate the issues, so I was happy. But then, he was hesitant about marriage, we went on for 7 years before he considered it seriously, and this is because I started to really think about the issues and began to say that hey it may not be wise. I thought what will happen when we have kids, and I have to look after my older parents, as well as him! But in addition, the odour that comes with the older person started. when we were together the wrinkled body became such a turn-off. You see I used to say it can work, leave people like us alone, but then i saw the negatives, the good thing is we were not married, but we still had history. People just need to think it through and look ahead. K.

  6. Luise July 29, 2008 at 2:01 pm #

    Dear K.: That’s the tough one, looking ahead when you are in a rosy glow and really don’t know how to do that. The “now” is often too captivating and rich with maturity and fulfillment. Blessings, Luise

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