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