When Matt, the man who would become my husband, and I started dating, he was thirty-three and I was eighteen. As we grew closer, got engaged, and then married, we came to understand that age can be just a number, or it can make all the difference.
Looking at the situation now through the eyes of a parent, I can honestly say that if my daughter were to come home with a man so much older than herself, I would probably call the Mafia and see if I could arrange a hit. I’ve heard of (and seen) too many situations where an older man will prey on a younger girl, subjecting her to his will in an emotionally abusive relationship. But this doesn’t always have to be the case. Let me share some of the dynamics that make my marriage work.
1. Even though I was nineteen when we married, I was more emotionally mature than many other girls my age. I’d been working for three years, I had been a nanny and lived away from home, and I had some schooling under my belt.
2. He and I were completely in sync with our goals for the future.
3. We were also deeply committed to the same religious beliefs, which helps tremendously as two people merge their lives into one.
4. While we were both in love and had stars in our eyes, we weren’t blinded by that love. We entered our relationship maturely, knowing what pitfalls we would encounter, and doing our best to prepare for them.
5. Matt treated me with respect and didn’t belittle me because of my younger age.
Because each of these elements were in place, we were able to form a partnership of equals, rather than a lopsided love affair. It’s important for the younger person in the marriage to have emotional strength to hold their own, and the maturity to handle the situations that arise with a positive outlook. It’s equally important for the older person not to resent the younger person for their lack of experience, or to try to sway their thinking because of a possible difference in education.
Age differences can work, as long as both partners agree to be and act like adults.