Does an age-gap between couples matter?
Relationships are tricky things; they can be fostered in an instant and broken in less than a minute. Sustaining a relationship is the real challenge. Many factors go into this – and age is one of them. In a world where we are constantly exposed to celebs dating and marrying partners who are much younger or older, we question the foundation of relationships where couples have a wide age gap between them. After all, out of the many celeb couples who are examples of this trend, most don’t last a year. Age gaps can appear to be harmless, and they probably are – after all, our grandparents married as many as twelve or thirteen years younger or older to them. But are there problems that can be avoided by not marrying someone who is vastly younger or older or even considerably so?
While every relationship comes with its own quirks and idiosyncrasies, an age gap can bring with it a different set of problems.
Generation gap: Compatibility of the stages of life is one major aspect. If your wife is ten years younger she might want to live her life in a way that is not appealing to you, especially in the present society. Also, life goals might be significantly different. A younger spouse might want to finish her studies, or go to university etc and will not have homemaking and child rearing as her immediate focus. This may not bode well with the family she is married into. A difference in years is significant when striving to achieve major milestones. An older spouse might not give the same importance to what is important.
Energy levels: As mentioned before, older people will not find pleasure in doing something that a younger partner finds fun. For example, a man in his forties will perhaps not find a hookah bar as appealing as a woman in her late twenties or mid thirties. And the energy level for outings, parties and even physical affection might not match for such couples. Older spouses may lack energy to take care of and run after new born or young children. Such problems lead to insecurities which are hurtful to any relationship and it is important to have a partner who relates to you on every level.
The novelty wears off: In the beginning it might seem quaint for the couple because let’s face it – love blindsides everyone. Initially, problems might not seem to be problems at all – the fact that one looks significantly older or younger is brushed off, being mistaken for a parent instead of a spouse is greeted with laughter and dealt with humorously. However, after a few years have gone by, it is bound to strain the relationship because we live in a society that is extremely critical.
Physical demands change: An older spouse will grow older physically of course, and it might fall on the younger one to take her of him/her. This might affect the relationship. The increased responsibility might prove to be burdensome and embarrassing to some. Initially, the older spouse tends to pamper and pander to the younger out of affection and recognition of his/her youth. When it comes to taking care of an ageing spouse the equation might be different. Whereas one was out of love and affection, the other is out of necessity.
Many younger women marrying older men are accused of being gold-diggers, marrying men for their money and security. Others might marry for fame. Men might be accused of choosing younger women for their looks and sexuality, to assuage their mid-life-crisis and women with younger men as partners get tagged as ‘cougars’ for the same reason. However, are we being overtly critical and negative? Granted that the biological clock and mindsets are real problems couples with a large age gap between them can face, but does it matter if both are happy with each other?
It depends on the people involved with each other, if they are committed, share the same ideal and are frank about their expectations, an age gap will not be a huge problem. The key is to laugh a lot, find common preferences, nurture what drew you together in the first place and of course, love and be committed. Don’t let your relationship be trivialised by the stereotypes society sets and another important key is not to deny the age difference. Give each other space to enjoy individual hobbies and activities and try not to impose on each other. And of course, the key to all successful relationships – keep the channels of communication perennially open. All couples will have their own dynamic and it is up to them to make their relationship work – no matter what the age.