Written by: Cally Worden
Celebrity Marriages are always hot news in the gossip columns. The recent ceremony between Stephen Fry and Elliott Spencer was not exception, not least because of the 30-year age gap between the couple. I find it fabulous that the civil ceremony joining two men in marriage, which in its own right would have been the main topic of interest just a few years ago, was reported as mere fact. Just as it should be. But how long will it be before age-gap relationships are accepted in the same way?
I confess my own thoughts on this subject are not entirely objective – my husband is 13 years older than me. We have been together for 22 years, and married for 14 of those. He has two older children from a previous Marriage we have two younger children together. Our age-gap has never been important. We’re just two people in love. What is it about relationship age-gaps that upsets other people so much?
The Health Concern
There is a period in middle life where age difference really does not matter. Once the youngest half of a partnership is 16, or 18, depending on your point of view, then you’re both grown-up. Those who criticise age-gap relationships express concern that as the older partner ages there emerges a differential in health and vitality that must interfere with the functioning of the relationship. They worry that a younger partner will end up caring for the older one. Well in some cases this may end up being true, but in others it will not. And besides, do people really think those in age-gap relationships don’t think about this stuff? When you love someone you want to be there for them no matter what.
The Looks Issue
Many people would rule out an age-gap relationship because of the difference in the way the other person looks. ‘Do you want to be mistaken for parent and child?!‘ they cry in dismay. Frankly I couldn’t care less either way. Looks may be important in terms of attraction, but surely that’s all? It’s what’s inside the individual that counts.
Each person matures at a different rate. I’ve known 50 year olds who behave like teenagers and 17 year olds who demonstrate wisdom way beyond their years. It is life experience and your natural emotional regulator that help dictate your approach to life. Those in successful age-gap relationships know it’s about finding the right connection with someone whose outlook is the same as yours – age has nothing to do with that.
What Others May Think
It’s curious – the older man-younger woman thing seems to be more widely accepted than older-woman-younger man. Why is that? Maybe because in the not-so-distant-past this was the norm in society? Or is that women are perceived to be past it once they reach the menopause? If you embark on an age-gap relationship you may initially sense or actively receive some criticism from your family and friends. They are just concerned for you, once reassured that simply loving each other is the important thing anyone who truly cares about you will support and be there for you.
The Raising-A-Family Issue
At last, something based in fact. And yet. Yes, any relationship between an older woman and a younger man may create a discord when it comes to the issue of children. But similar issues can arise if an older man has had a vasectomy and his younger lady is keen to start a family. Gay couples have always had this issue; even in similar age couples there is no guarantee that you will be able to have children. But couples in these situations know this at the outset. So what’s the problem? Some couples may choose to consider adoption, others may not. This issue is not unique to age-gap couples.
So does a large age gap matter in a relationship? I don’t think so. But if it bothers you then don’t engage in one. Quit criticising those who do – a choice of partner is no one’s business but your own, whether that person is younger or older, male or female, or from a different race or religion. It’s time we stopped obsessing about how others run their lives and got on with our own.