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.
A comment on a recent post–Will he change his mind? Sept. 18–made me wonder how many of us are married to people who are substantially older than we are. The woman who commented yesterday said her husband was 20 years older. He had been married twice before and had one daughter. Now, a few years into the marriage, they’re not only not having children, but they’re not having sex either. She’s thinking about leaving him in the hope she can find someone else and become a mom.
My first husband was only 3 1/2 years older, but that marriage didn’t last. Fred was 15 years older. I admit in my book that he was sometimes kind of a father figure. He had three kids from his first marriage and didn’t want any more, but he was still a fabulous husband, and I’m not sorry I married him. However, in the end, I did give up children and wound up taking care of him.
Does marrying an older man (or woman) mean you won’t have kids? Not necessarily. Two of my older male friends married substantially younger women and both couples had babies together.
It’s a risk. If you marry someone who is more than a decade older, he may not seem old now, but he will always be at a different place in his life than you are, and he will become a senior citizen, with retirement and possible health problems, long before you do. He may well not want to be still parenting in his 50s, 60s or 70s.
So what’s the answer? I think it varies with every couple. What do you think? Does hooking up with an older partner make it likely you’ll never have children?
A new book called Being Fruitful Without Multiplying has just been released in paperback and e-book formats. It’s a collaboration of several authors who write about their fulfilling lives without children. My copy is on the way. Help them out and order a copy. (While you’re at it, buy a copy of Childless by Marriage, too). I haven’t read the book yet, but I think it will help us all feel better about not having children.
My last post, on taking care of my husband, who has Alzheimer’s Disease, generated some great comments. Thank you to all. I don’t walk around thinking about my childless state all the time, but I couldn’t help noticing the parallels when Fred was in the hospital, the feeding, the diapers, his inability to talk.
I thought not only about how he was like a baby, but also how caring for him was similar in some ways to taking care of Annie, my dog–and I do have a lot of practice with dogs. Annie would react in panic if anyone tried to hold her down and do anything to her body. Just try clipping her nails. She can’t speak to tell me where she hurts, and she can’t understand when I tell her everything will be all right.
Sometimes I feel alone in this journey, but I’m not really. I have been in support groups, I have been in therapy, I have great friends. I exercise, and I really try to take good care of myself. For the most part, I’m on my own now. Except during crises, I only see Fred once a week for a few hours. It’s a 150-mile round trip to his nursing home.
I made that trip last week to take him to the doctor. This was not like taking care of a child, unless that child is blind and brain-damaged. I had to do all the talking and help Fred through every moment of our visit. Just getting him to lie on the table was a huge challenge. But it was a good visit. This is a new doctor for us, and he really seemed to listen and to care.
Having a husband with Alzheimer’s (and other diseases that take people away a little at a time) is hard. But I’m glad I can take care of Fred. I have to remember everything he gave me over our years together. Everything I have and much of what I have been able to accomplish over the last 25 years I owe to him.
Marrying an older man brings an added risk that he will become ill or die long before you do. I knew that going in. It would be nice to have children to help me and to help him, but I don’t. Instead, I have good friends.
Bringing things back to childlessness, I was in an online group for a while, but most of the members seemed to be older than I am, and they spent a lot of time talking about their children and grandchildren. When they started posting tons of photos,I bailed. Whatever we do, we’re still the ones without kids.