Monday, April 7, 2008

May-December Love


In Cherished Destinies (a book I wrote) there were two couples and both had one partner who was significantly older than the other partner. There were reasons that the romances worked for those two couples. In most May-December romances though, the drawbacks far outweigh the advantages.

Most successful relationships depend on commonality of experience, culture, religion, and interests. When there is a significant age difference, chances are that the intersection of those factors will be less. I'm sure that there are couples who are able to make it work, simply because they are willing to put the effort into it.

When one partner is fifteen years older than the other--or more--there are more likely to be difficulties adjusting to each other's expectations. I know it sounds silly, but consider the difference in cultural background that a mere fifteen years can make. Gender roles have changed drastically in the last two generations. What an older woman expects from the relationship may be very different from what a younger woman expects. And the same is true for men.

I often wonder what such couples find to talk about. What common ground can they find? Okay so passion runs wild for a while. Then what? While he's looking forward to a night in front of the television, his sweet young thing is thinking about a night spent club-hopping. Or she anticipates a quiet evening reading, but her young hunk has planned a night out with the guys.

What about children? One of them is finished with the whole kid thing while the other is just getting interested in the idea.

What about careers? The elder partner is thinking about retirement while the younger one's career is just starting.

I've seen such marriages that worked. But it requires a lot of compromise. So what do you think? Would you be willing to go for a May-December romance? What do you think you would have to change to make it work?

Anny

10 comments:

  1. Would I go for one of these relationships? Nope - but then I'm not into the whole love thing anyway. However, I see no problem with it when it comes to other people. I stand by Lady Astor's theory 'as long as they don't frighten the horse I don't care what they do.'

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  2. Amazingly in my high school class, marrying a man ten to fifteen years older was the norm. According to my friends, there were a lot of advantages: the men already had established careers and were ready to provide for a family and pampered their wives. They were also more interesting to talk to and made better sex partners than younger mates. I guess that was true at the beginning of the marriage, but later on, I know that several of my former classmates had already buried a husband or are caring for an elderly one.
    So far I was talking about the man being older. In the opposite case, where the woman is older, I know an amazing case, where the man ten years yonger put his wife on a pedestal, adored her and took care of her to the last day of her life and hardly survived her by 5 years. My MIL was a lucky woman when she married her second husband.

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  3. Why 15 years? Why is that the magic number, Anny?

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  4. The might be something really exciting about having a younger man who kept you on a pedestal and worshipped at your feet. Youth, stamina...who wouldn't WANT that for awhile anyway? But after all that adoration and hot sex, what's left? I can't imagine my values would match those of a younger man. Nope. There's something to be said for comfort and shared interests.

    Great post!

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  5. My dh never lets me forget that he married an older woman--by 3 whole weeks. So I have NO grounds to judge what this would be like. But you make some interesting points and I'm curious to see where this discussion takes us this week.

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  6. I started dating older guys when I was 19; don't know why, but they just seemed more mature than the idiots my age. My hubby laughs that when he was exiting HS, I was entering Kindergarten.

    One of my guys asked me a very profound question: 'Would you rather be a young man's wife or an old man's sweetheart?'

    At the time, I chose 'sweetheart', but eventually ended up the wife, ha ha.

    And yes, there are days when I admit I had it wrong...

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  7. Why fifteen years? Well, that's sort of when one person is literally old enough to be the parent of the other person... sort of.

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  8. I just wondered if it was a number pulled out of the air or if it was a scientific observation. ;)

    *snark*

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  9. Maybe that's my problem. I should be dating women that are at least 15 years older! :)

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  10. They might even pay since they're the oldest!

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