The importance of age differences in romantic relationships have been a topic of debate for a long time in American society. It is not uncommon to see older men with much younger women and it is becoming more and more common to see older women with younger men. Still, many people wonder about whether or not it is a good thing to be in a relationship with a large age gap. The issues that are involved in the subject of age gaps in relationships range from social stigmas, interests, family, time, and more. These potential problems are being discussed by sociologists and the results are being written about in magazines across the country, all trying to answer the question of whether or not age really matters when it comes down to picking your husband or wife.
Most people would agree that age gaps do make a difference in relationships, whether you mean for them to or not. As one writer Arbraham Lloyd explains, “Age is the vehicle by which we experience common milestones in life. These milestones give us the ability to relate to one another”(Lloyd 1). He goes on to say that it is hard to have things in common if you have not experienced as much as your partner, “Age itself isn’t a factor in compatibility — it’s elements like maturity and life experience, which tend to correlate with age, that can make or break a relationship’s long-term potential” (Lloyd 1). This is one concern people have when making choices about a relationship, but there are also many other important factors such as goals, careers, and of course personality that are even more important than being the same age.
A very important part of any relationship is physical attraction, something that can become an issue when you are with someone who is much older than you. For women who are in a relationship where they are much older than their partner this is especially a concern because a woman’s ability to feel beautiful is so important. One woman who was interviewed about marrying a younger man feels that, “for women, being with somebody younger makes us feel older. We’re more critical of ourselves. I don’t feel older all the time, just when I look in the mirror” (Brady 1). The same is true for men
who are dating younger women, some feel that there is a duty to stay in shape and shield their younger partner from their signs of aging. However, most couples will say that it is more important to have an intellectual connection rather than a purely physical relationship.
In interviews with couples who are in age-gap relationships show that there is a common concern about the permanence of their time together. When your husband or wife is 10 years older than you the idea of death is much more real and can be a burden on the relationship. As one man who is 23 years older than his wife explains, ” ‘We have different horizons. I know I’m going to be dead way too soon, and it makes me sick,’ “(Brady 1). This is one of the realities that people face the further apart they are in age.
Although large age differences are seen more often these days, statistics show that the mean age gap for marriages is only 2.2 years. This means that if you are in a relationship with someone that is 10 or even just 5 years older than you you are not a part of the social norm in America. Some people may prefer to stay out of these types of relationships because they feel that they will be judged by society. However some people embrace this fact, such as Elizabeth who is 13 years older than her husband, “‘If you’re very conscious of how far your relationship is from the norm, then every day you’re going to see those differences. I wasn’t raised to be by-the-book”‘ (Brady 1).
It is clear that there are many reasons why people might want to stay away from a long-term relationship with an older man or woman, there is no denying that differences in age also mean differences in life. However, according to a study of done by Dr. Caron in 2006 of couples where the woman is at least 10 years older, the attitudes of the couples were surprisingly strong. In fact a study published in the Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy reported that couples thought their age difference mattered more to the outside world than to them (Kershaw 1). Social stigmas are one of the main factors that worry couples of different ages, however, if there is a true connection between two people and they can find a way to make their lives work together there should be nothing wrong with that.
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/10/15/fashion/15women.html?pagewanted=all http://www.marieclaire.com/sex-love/advice/age-difference-relationships http://www.oprah.com/relationships/Age-Differences-in-Relationships-May-December-Couples/1