This year, I’m turning the big 3.0. It’s the year when I kiss goodbye to the lovely 20s and embrace ‘adult’ life. With no offence to all those who have cross this threshold, but for me it has made me feel ‘officially old’. It’s caused me a downpour of questions; what have you achieved in the last 30 years (if anything), what mistakes have you made, what successes have you celebrated and why haven’t had reached that millionaire status? I’m grateful that dreams don’t have deadlines, I’m quite happy to be a work in progress.
All this talk about age coincided with a documentary I randomly fell upon during a rare break from Baby J’s DVDs. It was called ‘She’s 78, He’s 39: Age Gap Love’. It was described as a life affirming documentary – trailing six of Britain’s biggest age gap lovers, couples who’d fallen in love despite being born in different eras. These weren’t the typical ‘sugar daddy/mummy’ relationships; they genuinely seemed to love each other. I did struggle to get my head around how they looked together; there was one very tanned wrinkly woman 70 year old woman who got breast implants to help her please (I’m assuming) her 30 something husband!
My own age gap is miniscule – a mere 8 years but it’s significant nevertheless. When we married I was a sprightly 24 year old young woman and he was an extremely focused 31 year old man. My beloved’s age has never really bothered me, in fact I actually really liked the age gap and I still do. I liked the idea of having someone who potentially was more mature than me, had a bit more life experience and someone who’d be able to teach me things. Wrongly, I also felt I’d be able to respect him more because of his age. I now understand more clearly that your husband or wife deserves respect, no matter his age or your age gap.
Our age gap mattered very little when we were courting but, it has gained more significance as we travelled along our 6 years of marriage. When we were fresh newlyweds, I slowly started becoming more aware of the age difference through little things like music. My beloved and I both love music; our home is always alive with beats of songs from all sorts of genres. But, there are some tracks that my beloved favours that I’m completely clueless about. I look up at him with a blank expression when he gets excited about some song that he knows every note, lyric and adlib to. This is magnified when he’s with a group of his friends and I’m there looking very awkward. The thing is about these social gatherings is that, what starts off as a good old sing along turns into a full blown nostalgic conversation and I’m left unable to contribute because I was crawling around in nappies at that time.
The gap was not only felt socially but also in our maturity levels. I’d noticed that my maturity wasn’t quite up to his. And yes, it can be argued that maturity has got nothing to do with age but, I certainly believe it helps. The way we handled issues and prioritised matters was different. Even the language we used and the way the communicated with people was polar opposite. Beloved is more old fashioned in the sense he prefers a face to face conversation with someone, and I don’t mind sending a quick text, Whatsapp message, Blackberry message or tweet. There have also been actions I’ve taken that I’m sure women who are my husband’s age wouldn’t have taken, had they’d been in the same position as me. I had to step up my game as a wife and I had to grow up quickly.
Having an age gap brought a series of lovely benefits; my beloved is terribly supportive of my dreams and has been very understanding of my ‘crazy – who am I at 30?’ moments (because he’s been there himself). My older man has a remarkable level of foresight. His life experience has taught him things that would take me years to acquire and he does not feel threatened by my ambition. I felt my beloved was more established because he was older. I’m not referring to finances; I’m referring to his career, goals, friendships, likes and dislikes. I feel that a ‘younger’ man may just go along with all the trends his friends are following; so because Oliver went into Project Management, he’d force his Bio-Chemistry Degree holding self into passing Prince 2.
Marrying someone older means you will have to change your thinking. I know of women who have husbands that are ten years their senior but they are struggling on big matters like having children. Their husbands’ friends have a football team of mini mes’ and in their own marriages they are arguing over when to stop using contraception. The wife isn’t ready to put their career on hold to change nappies and the husband doesn’t want to be a father with grey hairs and a Zimmer frame. They’ve caught each other at different seasons and someone has got to give, after all who begged the man to go and marry a young bride? And vice versa – who begged the bride to go and marry an older man?
I’m fully aware that there are some people (women in particular) who marry old because they want to marry ‘rich’. I don’t think this is right. Everyone wants financial security but, there’s financial security and there’s gold digging. If money is your only motivating factor then, money will be your only comfort when times get hard. We’ve all heard of instances when a woman marries someone 22 years her senior, only to end up being her ill husband’s carer and financier when his business went bust. To top it off, sexual intimacy dries up! Can you imagine being broke, exhausted and sexually starved…is that life?! I’m all for the age gap loving but, even I’d struggle with a 20 year difference. If you’re both middle age (40 – 50 years old) then a lack of va va voom in the bedroom, won’t be too disheartening because you’re both at the same stage. But imagine being in your prime at 30 and one of you has to pop a pill to get things going uphill?!
When I was a young singleton, I was a firm believer that women matured faster than men. This wasn’t just a belief I plucked out of the sky, this was something I’d witnessed. Women in their 20s were thinking about marriage, babies and owning a house with a white picket fence. Men in their 20s were generally thinking about girls, girls, sex, girls and driving the latest BMW. I also had this immature thinking that a man didn’t finish doing all his ‘discovering’ (discovering meaning defining who he is and what he wants) until he hit 30. Don’t know where I got this belief from but, I held onto this belief and really struggled to see the benefit of marrying someone the same age as me.
I’m not sure I’ve changed my opinion on whether girls mature faster than boys. It’s still very rare to find a 24 year old man, braving it down the aisle. My brother in law was twenty something when he walked down the aisle and I found that super impressive. But, what I have come to understand is that the process of discovering who you are and what you want is really a lifetime journey. There are talents, gifts and abilities that come out of you at different stages of your life, for different reasons and seasons. So whether, you have an age gap of 8 years or 38 years, what matters the most is that you are both on the same page.
Photo Credit: thejourneysuite.com
Ruby Suze is a yummy mummy who has been married for 5 years. She is passionate about using her life experiences to help others especially, youth. Follow her blog: Forever Newlywed and on Twitter@cr8tivrubysuze.