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Monique Honaman Headshot

She's How Old? Do Age Differences Really Matter?

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

My kids make faces and say, "That's so gross!" when I tell them that I was in college when my husband, their step-dad, was in middle school. We get a good laugh out of that! The reality is that I am only five years (almost to the day) older than he is. We then explain to the kids that age gaps seem bigger when you are younger, but that as you get older, that gap gets smaller and becomes relatively inconsequential. I believe that. But, do age gaps become bigger again as we get older? That's today's question!

I have a friend who is dating a guy 16 years her senior. She's never been married and is in her mid-30s. He is divorced and has two kids. They have really connected and enjoy spending time with each other. This is getting serious!

She asked me what I thought about their age difference. My first response was that age shouldn't matter at all. In my ideal mind, love should conquer all and who is to say that there has to be some standard age protocol for falling in love. I truly believe that age is just a number and, as Mark Twain said, that age is an issue of mind over matter.

We then started talking about two practical matters surrounding their age difference. One, yes, statistically, he will likely die first, but that's a stupid reason not to fall in love with someone older than you. There are absolutely no guarantees about when our time is up! Any one of us could die tomorrow. Two, she wants to have children. That could be a deal breaker with dating someone older who already has children and doesn't want to have anymore, but it's not for him. He's open to having more kids with her.

I shared with her that I have seen numerous marriages, really successful and happy marriages, where one spouse is 15-20 years older than the other. I have never heard any of these husbands or wives say anything about wishing they had done things differently and married someone closer to their own age. In fact, I have several friends in their 40s who are married to men in their 60s and life is grand! (I can't think of any men I know who are in their 40s and married to women in their 60s, but I'm sure life is grand for them too!).

It seems like there is that period of time where the perception of an age gap gets smaller. The difference between age 10 and age 25 is huge! The different between age 30 and age 45 isn't as big! But then, does the gap shrink even more or grow bigger? Does the gap look larger or smaller between someone who is age 65 and someone who is age 80? One thing is for sure! With this gap, no one is robbing the cradle, and no one is worrying about whether one person wants to have kids, or not!

Other people have criticized my friend and told her that it's "typical" that an "older man" wants to be with a "younger woman" and that she should watch out because he may trade her in again in 10 years. I think this is unfair. He has not given her any such indication that he traded someone else in for her, or that he would "trade" her in in the future. Just because neither one of them has found anyone closer to their own age to enter into a relationship with doesn't make this one bad, or improper, or anything less than it is - two people falling in love.

Do age differences matter or should love prevail over all? I think I am going to stick with my positive outlook and go with "love conquers all." All marriages have hurdles that have to be overcome. All marriages take work and attention. The issues that two people who are married and who are roughly the same age face may be similar or may be different than the issues that couples with vast age differences face. What remains consistent, however, is that all relationships have their fair share of hurdles, and take their fair share of work.

What do you think? Does age matter? Should age matter?