Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Love Knows No Age, Or Does it?

    Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter." ~ Mark Twain




I somehow got myself involved in a conversation about age differences in relationships earlier this week. Well, not really involved because I felt, let's say, slightly uncomfortable. The scenario was that I was in a social situation and this couple (we will call them Mr. and Mrs. X to protect the innocent) was talking about their daughter's new boyfriend who is about seven or eight years younger than the daughter. Her mother expressed some concerns over that, which in turn, led to a larger brief discussion about age differences in couples. I was quite surprised to hear the father of the daughter voice his opinion about how a large age difference is not good in a relationship, especially when the couple is older. I am not sure what his rationale was and he didn't elaborate on that particular statement because his wife chimed in about how she agrees with him and then subsequently voiced her own opinion about the issue until all of a sudden she stopped herself and changed the topic. I don't know this for a fact, but I am guessing that the conversation ended abruptly because maybe she remembered the fact that once I told her that my boyfriend is fourteen years older than me. And I was standing right there. And he was within earshot's distance of the conversation. Or maybe I was just being paranoid.




Regardless, I adore this couple and wanted to participate in the conversation with my two cents about how love knows no age because look at my boyfriend and I, we are making it work. I didn't say anything though for one reason and one reason only. I am still in the stage of this relationship of figuring out what topics are sensitive and which ones are acceptable to spout off about in public. I didn't really think it would be an issue to discuss this topic with friends, but I have been known to make incorrect presumptions in this past, so I figured better safe than sorry.




So now I and you the reader as well, are left with the question: does age matter when it comes to love and relationships? The reason that I was surprised about this friend's comment about age mattering as you get older was because usually, many people only take issue with an age difference in relationships when it comes to younger couples, such as with his twenty-three year old daughter. For example, an eighteen year old girl dating a thirty year old year old man. Or a twenty-one year old man dating a forty year old woman. I have had discussions with friends throughout the years and the common theme that comes up is that the people in these relationships are at different life stages, which could be a problem for the relationship in the future.




Being the romantic that I am, I never gave too much weight to the whole "different life stage" issue.  Before I used to think that if you're in love, you're in love. As long as it is legal. There are much bigger potential issues in relationships to deal with than a large age difference. Alcoholism, abuse, infidelity, the list goes on and on. I have close friends who are twelve years younger than me and I have close friends who are thirty years older than me. Why should my best friend (also known as my partner) be defined by the boundaries of their age?





Now that I am seriously involved with someone who is quite a bit older than me, I have been able to see the flip side of the coin. Age can make a difference in a romantic relationship. I want to sit here, dig my heels in, and say it doesn't matter. Love conquers all! But the reality is, you can't bury your head in the sand. You have to be realistic. A significant age difference in a relationship can and does result in many obstacles or issues. Goals can be different. A fifty-two year old woman may be planning on how she can retire early while her thirty-seven year old partner is at the height of his career. For many people, health issues start to arise as they get older and the chances of being a caretaker for an ailing partner is dramatically increased with a significant age difference. There is also the issue of children. One partner may be thinking of starting a family while the other, who may already have adult children, has already been there and done that. Maybe these are the kind of issues that my friend Mr. X was referring to.




I guess like many other debates in this world, there is no right or wrong answer to the big age debate. I cannot tell a lie; I have thought about the age difference between my boyfriend and myself, mostly because it has brought up some questions for us to answer. Questions that many other couples who do not have a big age difference also have to grapple with. The thing is though, I think that a big part of having a healthy and loving relationship is just that. Facing issues, talking through them, and compromising when necessary. That is not to say that facing and dealing with all those issues will always result in a happily ever after story. But living in denial is certainly not the answer either. Sometimes in the end, these conversations can even make your relationship that much stronger.




The conclusion I have come to is that if you are lucky enough to find true love, you have to grab it and embrace it. Work through the tough questions if they come up. Don't define love by the number of years between you, but rather by the truly important qualities such as friendship, communication, respect, goals, and dreams. Because in the end, those aspects of your love will be the ones to get you through your journey and quite possibly, to your happily ever after.

13 comments:

  1. Hmmm....In older couples age doesn't matter as much...I am 2.5 years older than my husband, My Mom was married to a man 20 years her elder and they were madly deeply in love, active, happy and living large until he was taken from her as a result of malignant cancer. As long as two people love each other, have things in common and wish to share their lives unconditionally than so be it...I also have a 26 year old daughter who is married to a 34 year old man, they fought long and hard to stay together before marriage...she 18 he 26 were in different places in their lives, after breaking up several times, college, and two tours in Iraq and Afghanistan love won out and they are now married living happily ever after. Last but not least younger ages...teens I may have more of a problem with a 20 year or even 8 year difference due to being in that different life place and not missing out of those life experiences yet to be determined.

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  2. Christina FredericksonAugust 4, 2011 at 5:14 PM

    I am on your side with this one! Love cannot/should not be determined by merely a difference in age. When God puts someone in your path to love and be loved by- and you're listening- you need to jump right in. That spark, feeling, whatever you want to call it, doesn't come along every day. When it does- the last thing you need to worry about is age! Being in different places in life can be a really great thing at times. People need to embrace life and just roll with it. You never know when love will find you, and you never know when it will be ripped away. Enjoy every second of it that you can!

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  3. Cindy ~ Yes, I would have to agree that it is a whole different ball game with teens!

    Christina ~ I know you have had the experience of God putting someone in your path and your advice is very wise!

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  4. Frank's DOB: 4/2/39
    Faith's DOB: 11/19/68
    Married 6/30/89
    First child born: 12/11/03
    Second child born 11/11/05

    Everyone said when we got married that it wouldn't last. He was the love of my life. I was his happily-ever-after.

    Until death parted us.

    Some may say that age matters since I shouldn't have to be widowed at 40. I say they are wrong. I wouldn't change one minute. The blessings of the gift much outweigh the pain of the loss.

    ~ F

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  5. Thank you for sharing that....hugs to you and your girls...

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  6. Love is a risk at any age. Gary was two years younger than me and he died first. I'm with you; if you're lucky enough to find love, you're lucky enough.

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  7. My wife (22 years Younger) keeps me young. I am running in 5K road races, exercising daily, acting in plays, helping people through the loss of loved one. Most likely none of which I would be doing. Keeping active will extend the life years, not limit them!!!!

    DDD

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  8. I am really glad I read this along with the comments posted. I have a friend who is 22 years older than I am and we are both in the arts so that is what brought us together. I knew him first professionally, then we became friends and now their seems to be a mutual attraction of some kind. We are just waiting to see where the ship sails since both of us lead very busy lives and we don't want to run the risk of ruining a great friendship. We care for each other a great deal and if things ever did work out and we ever should marry someday, I would be happy. .

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  9. Where there is true love age doesn't matter. Me and my husband 10 years of age gap initially it was in my mind that it could affect our relationship but i was wrong age is just a number.

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  10. The problem arises when being under 18... i fell for a guy that was 29 while i was 15... everyone was extremely worried about me and the relationship failed quickly, even before we had our first official date... friends and family told me all these stories about how i shouldnt trust him and how he could do awful things to me (rape, kidnapping...)

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    Replies
    1. Plus the whole it's illegal thing....(the sex part)

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