This week’s post features one of the topic propositions I selected. The submitter has opted to remain anonymous. As a young woman of 20+, she is currently in a relationship with someone in his 30’s. She says:
“I’ve heard so many things about dating older men and getting married young. I’m all for settling young and my goal is to be married soon. It’d be encouraging to hear your experience and how your journey has been so far.”
In my opinion, dating older and marrying young are individually extensive topics. For that reason, I’m going to stick with the former this time. I want to highlight quickly that this is not the genesis of an advice column, nor are my points intended to be reapplied to one’s life wholesale. It’s not fiction nor is it a documentary. Think of it as a Lifetime movie. It’s based on true events, with a traceable narrative, without the psychopath, female, murderer who’s trying to steal your baby.
Now to the meat of the matter. Age gap in relation to this post is operationalised as a five to ten year disparity in both partners’ ages. In my case my husband is seven years my senior. (A fitting number for the man who completes me.) When you date someone who is notably older than you, people have a lot to say. Side note: they generally do. So today I want to address some speculations as well as pinpoint why this works very well for us.
- Dating an older man means that you have “daddy issues”.
I find this position laughable. I don’t doubt the instances exist, but what a sweeping generalisation! I was never looking for a father figure in my husband. I have a few father figures who have positively shaped my life and my own father has been indisputably present and supportive for as long as I’ve known myself. What I would say is that there are enough fathers in my life who I look up to, to set the standard for the type of man I could marry without second guesses. Any man old enough to attempt fathering you in a relationship will probably exhibit unhealthy control issues sooner or later. Anything that remotely resembles a “child bride” situation should be avoided.
- The younger partner may feel inadequate and the older partner dissatisfied. They won’t relate over time.
My husband and I have discussed this multiple times at the start of our relationship. Never has he once made me feel like I’m not enough, neither do I feel like he is generally dissatisfied.
Realistically we come from two different decades where he is among the earliest of “echo-boomers” and I barely caught the same generation train. He is very much an old soul and I am very much a “blerd”. There are times when I have a nostalgic moment with cartoons and games he has never heard of (nor is he interested in them). He is a little confused by memes with DBZ references and has never heard of Paramore or Miyazaki. At other times he gets excited about The Merrymen who are like the Rolling Stones era of Barbados to me. Yet don’t all couples have individual interests? We have learned so much from each other on different subjects. They have become teaching moments. And we know which ones will remain individual interests. But what works well for us in this regard is that we both were raised with similar family backgrounds. We both have Vincentian heritage, grew up ministry children, lived on Keys-for-Kids, crusades and choruses; and adore travel for example. We also strongly value communication and because those lines are always open, misunderstandings are quickly cleared up.
Another reality we have both had to consider, is that while I have only just started managing adulting, dear husband is just about “middle aged”. As a result, we did not have ten years of youth to play with on the dating scene with each other. Also, we wanted to have children while he was still able to help me chase toddlers around the house and avoid being mistaken for his son’s grandpa at a PTA meeting. I have been challenged to handle a fast track transition process between major life phases. You may feel as if your life is flashing before your eyes. But it’s doable. And hey so many of our forefathers married with age gaps and stayed married ‘til death did them part. There is no reason why we cannot follow suit.
At the end of the day, relationships consist of two persons with many individual differences. How they pool these differences together, to make things work in the end, is determined by the two of them. Here are a few reasons why the set up works for me.
WHY IT WORKS.
- It balances my tendency to mother mode.
This reason may not be typical on average. But I have always had a strong need for organisation and an innate motivation to look out for and take care of other people (especially those younger than me). It possibly stems from being charged with supervising my sisters at young age. Nevertheless, combined with perfectionism, it is not always a desirable trait. I can’t imagine how many guys may have been turned off by that. I remember having a discussion with a male peer who exclaimed, “You better not treat your husband like your son when you get married!” When I did get married, I found that my husband was just as inclined to take care of me as I was to look after him. His confidence, experience and maturity went a long way in my resignation from constant mothering mode.
- Maturity and Leadership potential are always a plus.
According to Science, girls mature much faster than boys. This could be, I suppose, part of why women generally tend to marry men a little older than them. I had already mentally resigned to becoming an old cat lady. I was at an age where I was sure of what I wanted, and many of the options in my age group felt like settling. I was told that I was picky. I could have tolerated games in my teens, but I was losing my patience with guys who were sending mixed signals and demonstrating unreliability in other senses. A lot of this could have been personality compatibility, but for me, some of it was age related. Statistics show that men are usually not ready to settle until aged 30. It was a breath of fresh air to meet a man who was deliberate in his pursuit without being creepy. I was moved by his ability to articulate his long-term vision, his respectfulness, his strong affinity for leadership, his practicality in how he intended to take care of another man’s daughter and his decisiveness all around. It always has made me feel safe. He always says that he understands why God brought me into his life now, because if it happened when he was younger he would not have been ready. By your 30’s you are probably already set in your ways and I am glad that one of those ways for him is devotedness.
- Stability matters to me.
I was not looking for a man with money. I was raised to be fiercely independent. But stability has been something that increasingly appealed to me as I neared my mid-twenties. I know that things are never always perfect nor are they easy. But I was disappointed too often by people who offered wild adventures and no stability. I just wanted somebody who would always be down for me. My husband and I do have our wild adventures, but I appreciate that he is across the board a consistent person. He does his best to keep his promises. He doesn’t make illogical ones if he can help it.
I have my tendencies to wander about my mind like an untethered balloon. He is the anchor. He keeps me on my projects when I want to procrastinate, and I feel uninspired. Time has taught him the importance of making the most of it and he does not delay in making concrete steps. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not encouraging anyone to seek out a ready-made man. Any relationship is a journey to grow together and to improve each other. The same way his hands-on nature encourages me to move quickly, my cautious need to properly evaluate all factors, puts a necessary brake on his executions at times.
Still, time has yielded a lot of benefits to my husband; and his ability to prioritise is one of them. He also has a keen eye for detail and knows how to handle the most quintessential adulting woes like doing taxes, loans and the like. As someone who has a voracious appetite for learning, I’ve picked up a lot from his wealth of experience, in a short space of time!
You’re probably wondering what the older person stands to gain from all of this. A number of persons probably won’t be able to see anything beyond a vivacious sex life as a benefit. But as the younger person in the relationship, I’ve seen my husband try new, daring activities he usually wouldn’t have because I wanted to do them. The more youthful person can bring a fun, Peter Pan element to the relationship, causing both to believe maybe on occasion that they are forever young. They bring fresh perspective. Period. And I also bring him up to date on all the latest lingo and goings-on in the “culture”. These profits are exclusively age related, there are many others that come from my personality and my own experiences. But that is another post for another time.
I can almost guarantee that the younger person is often mature and sagacious in their own right. This makes them the equal of their spouse. You may also realise how true this is when your cohort begins to change, (if it hasn’t already), to reflect the stage you are at. While core friends will remain, birds of a feather will inevitably flock.
There is a lot more to say on this topic, but I will stay here for today. Hope this has shed some light!
Many persons prefer to connect with their own age bracket when it comes to relationships and that’s fine. You must be self-aware enough to know what works with you and what you can handle. If you are a Christian, you must know that marrying this person will not violate biblical principle or your own spiritual or core convictions. Age or not, marriages are meant to last. So in general, don’t be doe-eyed in your approach to it. If those factors have a green light, and the most influential people in your life have no grounded objections, you’re probably going to be fine.