Older Woman, Younger Man

QUESTION: Frank has asked me to marry him. He's only 33 and I'm 49. The age difference doesn't bother him at all; he acknowledges it and then shrugs it off. There's lots of sexual chemistry between us; we love spending time together, and most other aspects of our relationship are great except for the age difference, which I worry about, but he doesn't.

My worries are mainly that he'll tire of me quickly as we both age, and that others will judge us and think we're crazy. His response is that he feels confident that he wants to spend the rest of his life with me and he knows himself well enough to know he won't change his mind.

Some background about me: I was married for 25 years and have four grown children. Frank has never married. He's a devoted uncle and friend to young people, but doesn't want children of his own, so it doesn't bother him that I'm too old to bear him children. Frank has never been married and was in one long-term relationship where his partner wanted children. He found he had a low sperm count, so that made her decide not to marry him.

Am I overlooking any significant potential problems that I should consider before marrying him?

ANSWER: Some men, like Peter Pan, never grow up. In life they look for a woman who will be both mother and wife so they never have to be a responsible adult. Other men know their own mind, appreciate the maturity of an older woman and make great husbands.

I wish I could find enough clues in your letter to make a good case one way or the other. I'll address some of your comments and concerns, and then mention what you might want to think about in deciding which kind of man you are with.The Issue of AgeOf course you wonder what other people will think when they see the two of you together. The media has portrayed your relationship across the spectrum from the unimaginable "Harold and Maude" to the touching love story of "How Stella Got Her Grove Back." Most people won't know what to make of your relationship, so when people stare, just remember they're usually not judging you -- they're just curious. The people who know the two of you will draw their own conclusions by seeing the relationship you have built together over the years. If you're still very caring toward one another 20 years from now, people will simply admire or envy you! Look down the road five, 10 and 20 years, and consider what life will be like and what you'll be sharing -- as you retire, as income sources change and as you slow down faster than he does. Spend the TimeYou said you were afraid that he'd tire of you. If you've known each other several years, then maybe he does know his own mind. If you've only been friends and more than friends less than 18 months, then you should probably wait a while and notice how things progress. Make sure you've been dating at least a year before you start with the marriage plans. That time may tell you what you need to know.
The other side of this is his statement that he won't change his mind. Well, has he walked his talk? Did he at one time want children, then change his mind? Has he been steady in his career or job choices? Does he have longtime friends who are also very responsible and commitment-minded themselves? The Wonders of an Older WomanSome men who are comfortable with older women appreciate how understanding and tolerant they are. Older women often really understand and like men, creating a very pleasant experience for a man. Then too, some men like to be taken care of rather than do some of the difficult work of growing up and caring for others, like children or women their own age. An older woman usually knows how life works, how to keep a house, and is more forgiving of a young man's behavior or lack of ambition or diligence. Children and a Child at HeartMany men get along very well with children because they are a children at heart themselves. Some older women enjoy such men because they are fun, spontaneous and quite adorable. It often means that the man isn't going to be the one thinking about the future and the woman is going to be the planner and the practical one in the marriage. If the man is responsible, this is reasonable. If he is not, it can mimic raising one more child. If this is the case, when he's 48 and you're 64, it may not be as acceptable to you as it is now.
Why Didn't Things Work Before?The only perplexing question I found in your story has to do with his long-term relationship that didn't progress.It seems strange that he doesn't want children, yet spent the time and money to discover his sperm count. If they were living together and trying to conceive before marriage, this would make sense. Otherwise, I'd wonder about his story.More than any other time in history, a low sperm count can be overcome with science. It's not as fun as the normal way children are conceived, but for those who are serious about a family, it can be done. I wonder why a long-term relationship died over this, and I wonder why the relationship went on so long instead of moving towards marriage sooner. Or why, after all that time and investment on her part, she left. I hope you can make sense of this issue.Decide whether you've got a Peter Pan or a Responsible Man. Then, take your time and be sure you take a walk around the calendar together as a couple before making any final plans. If you're still sure of him by then, you may find yourself in a great relationship with a great husband. Andy Whaling, MFT, is the founder and Director of Pasadena, Calif.-based Single Directions, a non-profit dedicated to helping singles 30+ find love and keep it.
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Source: Relationships & Love

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