Table of Contents
Loving across an Age Gap © Martyn Carruthers
Do you suffer about an age difference with your partner?
Do people react to your and your partner’s ages?
If you are fortunate or clever enough to find a compatible partner, your ages are only numbers; yet your ages may seem important to observers.
We help couples resolve emotional and partnership problems.
We are born with an energy for living which, unless we actively restore it, fades with age. After about age 25, unless we replenish our energy with a good diet, exercise and healthy relationships, we may stop growing up and start growing old.
The deterioration of bodily functions that accompany aging is often seen as a one-way street to misery, suffering and death. Yet most of the changes associated with old age are not from natural aging but from unhealthy lifestyles.
As time passes, cellular damage accumulates and affects body functions. Common examples include obesity, hypertension and adult-onset diabetes, most of which you can manage with diet and exercise.
Is Age a State of Mind?
Age is important in relationships – both subjective age and body age. While an optimistic approach is that “You are only as old as you feel“, some older adults behave like needy children, while some younger adults show powerful maturity.
If you are attracted to someone significantly older or younger than you, move slowly. Younger people may be mature for their age, but they are still their age. Perhaps delay a commitment until you both feel ready and that you have aligned your life goals.
Older people may feel attracted to younger partners for many reasons. They may seek lively companionship, assurance that they are still attractive, and/or they may want to re-live their younger years. Conversely, younger adults who seek more mature partners may have tired of the immaturity of people their own age, and they prefer maturity, security and/or stability.
But increased age need not mean increased maturity …
I wanted to get away from my parents. This man was rich … and much older than me … I pretended to enjoy sex with him and got pregnant and married him … he flirted with my friends, my son was sick … I was only 23 and my doctor made me take anti-depressants. Since your couple sessions we have a new start.
Shared values seem to be essential. While it seems healthy to have some different interests, the pleasure of a long-term partnership usually reflects a desire to cooperate to fulfill those shared values. And, whenever a couple have different values, a key question is, “Are you willing to value something BECAUSE your partner values it?”
While an age difference may affect activities such as sports or making babies; most couples who enjoy activities such as gardening, hiking, charity work or studying together can keep their partnership healthy and vibrant. (Couples who work together to benefit their families and communities often feel especially fulfilled.)
On a downside, if a partner slows down as he or she ages, a youthful exuberance of the other may become a liability. Some people seem to use psychosomatic symptoms to stabilize their relationships …
I suffered with chronic fatigue syndrome for twelve years and was told that it was incurable. I heard about Martyn’s work from a good friend, and flew to meet him for private sessions.
Within a month or so, many of my chronic fatigue symptoms seemed to evaporate and I planned to return to my career as an international trainer. But after three months my partner and I were on the edge of divorce. My regained high energy was not so wonderful for my older, retired husband. After a crisis, my husband and I found ways in which I could be energetic and he could be retired and we could stay married.
Your family, friends and community may pressure you to find a partner that they like. You may offend them if you choose a partner from a different race, country, region or part of town. You may offend them if you choose a person with a different education, religious or family background. You may offend them no matter who you partner!
I found a wonderful man! He’s quite a bit older than me, and when I announced our engagement there was an uproar! My father hated him. My mother liked him too much.
A friend warned me that he only wanted to impress his friends. I told that friend that I would stay with my man … that was years ago and we’re still together.
If one is much older than the other, eyebrows may raise and criticism may be heard. Parental objections can range from mild disapproval to total rejection.
My parents were angry when they met my older partner … they said horrible things and asked, “Why does someone YOUR age want someone so old?”
Talking with them was a waste of time … all I heard was prejudice. They didn’t want my happiness, they wanted my obedience. After our sessions, I relaxed a lot … but we were together for three years before my parents relaxed.
I‘m happier than I thought was possible. My life partner is 18 years older than me … and he treasures me. I feel loved for who I am. He is mature and caring … the younger men I knew wanted to mess around with women or watch sports. We have been together for eight years … and we enjoy doing almost everything together.
If you are in a serious relationship with someone much older or younger than you, be sensitive to your partner’s concerns. Explore your own and your partner’s feelings about your age gap … bring any issues into the light and talk about them.
Does one of you feel threatened by younger or seemingly more attractive people? Does one of you believe that the other might be happier with someone closer to their own age? Is a younger partner feel intimidated by the older partner? Can they both enjoy each other’s friends?
Relationships with significant age differences require strong commitments.
Your families and friends may not care why you choose to be partners.