Agony Aunt

Patricia Marie, MBACP qualified counsellor is a member of The British Association of Counselling and Psychotherapy, practising in Harley Street, Essex and Scotland. She has many years experience of dealing with domestic violence, relationship problems, bereavement, depression, addictions, post traumatic stress and many other emotional issues. If you have a dilemma, please email Patricia.Marie@lady.co.uk

Age gap relationship

Posted by Patricia_Marie
Patricia_Marie
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on Friday, 04 September 2015
Dear Patricia Marie,

Two years ago I met and fell in love with a wonderful man. We adore each other and all the time we are together we are constantly laughing and being happy. He has now asked me to marry him and wants us to move in together. This should make me the happiest woman in the world, but there is a problem – our age gap – I am 29 and he is 58.

My parents are very much against our relationship and won't even allow him in their house. They insult him, insist he is trying to control me and wanting to change me, which is absolute rubbish. My friends say they don't understand why I would want to be with a man who is almost an old age pensioner, and never ask us out as a couple because they say it would be like having their parents there. My sister is the only one who seems to accept us as a couple, and she says she is just happy that I am happy.

I want to marry him and make our future together but am torn as I don't wish to lose my friends and family over it.

What should I do?

Thank you.

Patricia Marie says...

It is so irritating that people have an opinion about age gaps, even when they don't know the particular people involved. There are certain types of problems that can arise from dating a much older person. However, some young women have entered into blissfully happy marriages with wonderful, caring, older men, just as others have found misery with men of their own generation. There is no blueprint for human happiness in a relationship.

You are being overly influenced by your parents' emotional reaction. Parents can often be slightly irrational when it comes to accepting their children's life decisions. Even the most understanding ones can overreact if they feel what you are planning is not in your best interest.

Perhaps your parents are too negatively focused. Encourage them to see the positive side, such as the financial security your partner may have, a wealth of experience he could bring to your relationship, the fact that if you were to have children together, he would likely be wiser with them than in his youth.

I wonder if your parents are concerned that you could become this man's carer in later life, or that he could die and leave your children fatherless? Often it is presumed that the older one of the partnership will die first, but of course this is not necessarily the case. When Joan Collins married a man 32 years her junior, and sceptics commented that she may not last the pace, she laughed off the age difference, quipping 'If he dies, he dies!'

Talk to your parents. Tell them you are strongly considering marrying your partner, and that it would mean so much to you if they could try to accept him. Perhaps your sister could act as a mediator at this time to help encourage them to see how happy he makes you. Let your unsupportive friends know how disappointed you are by their judgmental views, and suggest that they may surprise themselves if they were to get to know him, and actually enjoy his company.

Whether you choose to marry a man who is older, younger, or a similar age, there will naturally be some necessary compromises. By stating that your age gap is a problem, you are expressing there are doubts in your mind. You must listen to these doubts, and be absolutely sure of this relationship, but do not make your decision solely based on the opinions of your parents and friends.
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