How to Make An Age Difference Work
My husband is 14 years older than me. We met when I was 26 and he was just turning 40. We fell in love, and now, four years later, are married.
On paper, those numbers seem sooooo far apart. If you met us, though, it wouldn’t seem so strange. My husband doesn’t look a day over 35 (I’m not biased—I promise no one EVER guesses his age to be higher than 36) and he’s got a decidedly youthful energy that outstrips a lot our friends that are my age.
And me? I’m just incredibly mature and wise beyond my years. ;)
But, beyond that, we work.
I mean, we work. It takes commitment to make any relationship successful, but in a lot of ways, it takes even more dedication for one that has an obstacle built in.
How do we do it? How can you make an age difference work?
Consider Where You Are in Life
An age difference won’t matter if you both want and are ready for the same life milestones. If you’re both happy to catch a movie on the couch or check out a quiet whiskey tasting rather than hit hot clubs until sunrise on a Friday night, you’re good to go. But if you’re ready to settle down and get serious about the future and he’s all about a spontaneous trip to Ibiza or blowing a paycheck on weed, things will probably get sticky.
Opposites Can Attract
That isn’t to say that there aren’t ways a relationship can work if you have different interests. It just matters that you line up on the big stuff, and that your partner can give you what you need. You don’t have to have the same taste in music (believe me, my husband has no idea who Betty Who is), but you should line up on wanting kids, living in the suburbs or staying the city, if you want religion to be a part of your family, and other important pieces of a life.
Be Prepared for Comments
There is a good chance other people will have lots of opinions about your relationship when there’s a big age difference. And they’re going to share those opinions. All the damn time.
I can’t tell you how many times one of my husband’s friends has made some inappropriate or rude comment about my relative youth, how often my family makes jokes about his age or questions what my life will look like in 40 years.
Be prepared with a response to shut down the comments. Depending on who the person is and the situation, you might be able get into a serious explanation of your relationship, but you don’t have to. It’s your relationship and you don’t have to defend it—just be prepared to purse your lips and roll your eyes. A lot.
Create a Partnership
The typical dynamic between an older person and a younger is one of parenting or mentorship. But that’s not what you want in a romantic relationship. Make sure that, despite the age gap, one partner doesn’t hold any power over the other.
My husband doesn’t run the show or talk down to me because I’m younger, just like I don’t treat him like he’s made of glass or shut him out because he’s older. We’re a team, equal partners. Sure, there are times when he’s very much in charge (hello, driving a stick shift!), but there are also times when I take the lead.
It’s Your Relationship
These are some of the ways my husband and I make our age difference work, but only you know your relationship. Be honest with yourself and your partner about your needs, wants, and plans for the future. If you can and want to be together despite an age gap, go for it.