Should she stay with her older man?

Today’s topic is young wives and older husbands. Sometimes it goes the other way around but not as often. A new commenter calling herself Anonymous wrote today about her dilemma. Her fiance is 15 years older than she is. He’s perfect in every way except that he doesn’t want to have children. She says she was okay with not having kids before, but now that she has this great man, she’s feeling the baby urge. Now she doesn’t know what to do? Is this relationship worth giving up having children in order to stay together? Sound familiar to anyone?

It’s an impossible question. Nobody has a crystal ball to predict how we will feel in 10, 20 or 30 years. Will he change his mind? Probably not. If he has gotten to 40 or older, he’s going to be pretty sure about his no-kids decision. Either he never wanted children or has already done the dad thing and doesn’t want to start over. Anonymous noted that her fiancé was worried about the financial aspects of parenthood. That makes me cringe. Yes, children are expensive little critters, but that’s not the point, is it? My dog costs me a fortune in vet bills, but I wouldn’t give her up for anything. Not that it’s the same thing.

Marrying a person substantially older includes issues you might not even think about. It’s more than not liking the same music or having different cultural references. His friends are likely to be older, too, and you may feel out of place with them, just as he will with your friends. Your husband and your parents might be closer in age than you are. That’s all just fun little quirks when you’re both relatively young, but as you age, your older partner is likely to experience health problems. He may retire and want to do retired-people things when you’re not even close to old enough. You might find people asking if you’re his daughter. He might even die, as my husband did, leaving you not only childless but alone. Do the math. When you’re 25 and he’s 40, it’s no big deal. But when you’re 55 and he’s 70, it’s different.

So we come down to the main questions: Is he worth it for however many years you have together? Should you leave him for someone who would be your baby daddy? Preferably someone your own age? What if you never find that person?

I never found anyone else I liked as much as Fred. I think I made the right decision, but it’s pretty lonely sometimes.

Nobody knows what’s going to happen. You could live a long wonderful life together, doing all the things people with children don’t have the time or money to do. I know people who have done just that. Or you could spend your life resenting your partner for preventing you from having children. You might also end up alone.

All you can do is look at what you’re feeling now and decide to try it or not.

So, what do you think about all this? Do May-December partnerships work? Should Anonymous stand by her man? I look forward to reading your comments.



9 thoughts on “Should she stay with her older man?

  1. I wouldn’t belittle the cost of raising a child today as a valid point that any adult weighing the options of having children needs to consider–especially if you really want to be a good parent and not put yourself and your partner through financial struggles that could strain your relationship, even to the breaking point. According to one article I just read, it can cost over $300,000 today to raise a single child up to 18…and let’s not talk about college or further education beyond that. Even as a “pet-parent” who has paid her way through many vet bills through the years, there really isn’t a comparison there. Today we have a lot of people having children just because they think it’s what they need to do, without really understanding whether they are ready for it, financially, emotionally, and otherwise.

    It’s easy to always wonder “what if,” particularly with an older partner (as I have as well) who doesn’t want/never wanted kids. But there are plenty of what ifs on the other side of it, too. What if you leave a good relationship and can’t find someone you care for nearly as much out there? What if you do, and then you still find yourself having problems conceiving? (Fertility treatments and adoption are expensive options, too.) What if you have kids who end up wanting nothing to do with you/resent having to take care of you or to visit you when you’re older? Having kids is no guarantee of companionship later in life. Nothing is ever guaranteed.


    • I think the arguments on the other side are really worth considering, if you are in this conundrum. If conceiving is not an issue, raising a child into a healthy, strong, independent adult is an extremely tough challenge and comes at a great cost and effort. It literally takes a village to do that. ( Our western culture instills us with a script: school, college, girlfriend, job, house, marriage, children, retirement. Everybody is trying to stick to this traditional script, but most people underestimate how much effort it takes to raise children. A high number of marriages fail, or people cling together “for the children.” But in the end, it’s the children themselves who suffer and grow up to become anxious adults with all kinds of issues and behaviours which they pass on to their offspring (and the cycle continues). And that’s besides the other stuff that can go wrong and is outside our control (illness, accidents,…)

      In fact, our entire society is geared towards that traditional path. Social norms, values combined with engineering. If it wasn’t for the successive waves of innovation of the past century, we wouldn’t be with 7 billion on the planet today.

      As someone who is childless and failed at the traditional script, I think it’s worth questioning our assumption that attempting to have children is pretty much a given. It isn’t. It’s not even an obligation, let alone something you should owe to yourself. The only reason to have kids is because you actually feel it’s your calling in life, and you feel more then capable of raising and nurturing them.

      Apart from that comes the realisation that contributing to the well-being of other children in a variety of ways (as a teacher, a stepparent, a godparent, an uncle or aunt, a mentor) can (and in my opinion should) be viewed as valuable as merely creating them by exchanging genes with your spouse.


  2. I have a friend who married a much older man. He already had grown children, and my friend has a 10-year-old. They finished raising the 10-year-old together and neither had any intentions of having one together. Theirs is a wonderful marriage. I believe Friend is happily willing to deal with those specific issues that you mentioned in your post. The last 10 years of her life have been amazing to watch as she’s never been happier. Likely he will pass away before her, but she will have many happy memories to remember.

    All that being said, the issue of children wasn’t on the table for these folks and that made the decision easy for my friend to marry and live happily ever after. For a person wanting children, I really don’t know. I hope she gets a sign or some clarity that helps her to make a confident decision.

    One thing I have learned in life is that nothing is guaranteed. She may let this older man go, find a younger man and then learn that she’s infertile. Or that her new young husband is. The pain of knowing that her wonderful older man is alone and childless, while she is now attached to a younger man and still childless would be hard. Though I guess she could try adoption with the younger man if he’s open to it.

    Or what if she passes on the older man and a younger man never materializes? We’d like to think that we all have a bunch of options but the older we get the less likely we are to run into another love.

    I think I’m a believer of living in love and letting everything unfold from there. Pick the man you love and hope that a family forms somehow (note: the definition of family doesn’t have to be a new squishy baby). Love your friends and be comforted by what you share with them. Love your neighbors and you might not have to shovel your walk and in your old age someone will look in on you. Love your animals and they will protect you. Love the guy at McDonalds, and you might get some extra fries. Love. The answer to everything.


  3. I married an older man when I was 28 and he was 41. I was not ready for children then, moving from country to country, finishing my professional qualification as I never wanted to rely on my other half to raise children. Seven years into marriage, I felt ready financially and emotionally and he told me that he didn’t want children and never wanted them! I felt cheated and betrayed as he had never told me. I always assumed that if two people marry, it’s only natural and he should tell me when asking me to marry him that this is to be a childless marriage. He finally agreed to have a one child and made me promise that I will not want any more. I agreed because I loved him. Three year forward, we have a wonderful little boy whom I raise entirely on my own while working full time in a senior position and running the house. My husband hardly helps with anything. I madly want another child to the point that I’m getting really depressed and low all the time, but this time it’s a “NO”. I resent whom I loved and my one advice is RUN AWAY! as soon as he or she speaks contrary to your child desire. You will get calm at some point, tell people and yourself that it’s your decision but you will feel duped, cheated and start resenting. At some point my husband even told me that I should leave him when child question arose.


  4. I married a man who is 20 years older than me (I am 23) The thing was we both wanted kids. We both craved them. He is a paraplegic and has been for 22 years but we didn’t know that that could affect us trying for a child. He cannot have children now. They said they could do a procedure but it was extensive and expensive. I have thought so many times that it is only fair to walk away from the marriage because I want a child. That has been my dream. But then I think that I am selfish and that it is not fair for my poor husband, I am just as confused, but it is okay. Time will tell.


    • Ember, what a tough situation. I’m sorry. My uncle was a quadriplegic. He certainly could not have sex in the usual way, but he and my aunt were able to have two children who are now both adults with their own children. Miracles can happen. But sometimes you have to adjust your dreams. I wish you all the best.


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