My husband was 15 years older than I was. My partner at work is married to a man 14 years older. She is also childless. Both of our husbands were married before, and each had three children with their first wives. They were not interested in having any more.
Show of hands. How many readers are women married to older men or men married to considerably younger women?
I thought so.
Wikipedia shows a relatively low percentage of couples with 10 years or more different, but I suspect that percentage is higher among those of us who are childless by marriage.
When I was growing up way back in the 50s and 60s, I was told that it was good for husbands to be a few years older and therefore that much wiser. Girls mature sooner, and there’s always that ticking fertility clock. My dad had five years on my mom, those years spent fighting in World War II. My first husband, a Vietnam vet, was 3 ½ years older. Not a problem, right?
The first go-round, most of us marry people about our own age. Often, we meet at school, so our partners are likely to be less than four years older or younger. And that works. We grew up in the same culture, with the same music, the same TV shows, and the same history. We may or may not agree on having children, but biology is on our side.
But then we get divorced–or maybe we missed the first round–and now we’re hooking up with people who have been married before. Maybe they had children and are looking forward to the empty nest, but we haven’t even laid our eggs yet. We have a problem much bigger than the fact that he liked Rosemary Clooney (George’s aunt and a popular singer/actress back in the 50s) and you liked the Beatles. Or Aerosmith and Imagine Dragons. Whatever.
Older men marry younger women all the time. Some do want to have children (speaking of George Clooney), but others are done. Sorry, they took that ride before, and they’re not going to do it again. So why marry a geezer? Because the good guys your own age are already married. Because they are more mature, more established in their careers and offer the security you felt (or didn’t feel) with your father. Because you’ve been hurt before and he feels safe. Because you love who you love.
If you’re the younger woman, you might be accused of being a gold digger, wanting the older man for his money and prestige. Sometimes that’s true. I loved Fred with all my heart and I honestly didn’t realize he was that much older when we started dating. But I was not unaware that he offered security, a house with lots of great things, and a chance to travel all over the world. I didn’t marry him for that, but it was there. And we had his kids. Sometimes it felt like a family when they were young. So maybe I didn’t need children of my own? Big sigh.
There are other possible issues. You’ll be at different places in your careers, and he’ll want to retire when you’re far from ready. You may end up nursing him and watching him die. But for the years that it’s good, it can be totally worth it. It was for me. And again, good mates are hard to find. Should we let the calendar dictate whom we should love?
Check out these articles. I invite you to share your thoughts and experiences on the subject of young-old partnerships.
“Things to Consider before Marrying a Much Older Man”. I disagree with some of these, but some of them are all too true.
So, what do you think? Please comment.