Mar 30, Suzanne Hadley Gosselin For the sake of this article, we'll define an age difference as five years or more. I felt the panic rising in my chest. I'd just done the math. After spending a few days trying to adjust to the fact that the handsome co-leader of my small group was seven years my junior, I had just realized that he was actually eight years younger!
I don't know why this one year made such a difference to me. I guess it was because I'd heard two or three stories of the woman being seven years older, so I'd sort of decided that was the outer limit of age difference acceptability.
But the fact was, I was 30, and he was And I would hit 31 a month before his next birthday. Feeling defeated, I sat at the small wooden table in Starbucks, where I was meeting Kevin for the first time since my startling discovery.
My mind was reeling. This will never happen, I thought. What was I thinking? Eight years is just too big of a difference. Then he approached the table with the same winning smile … and I thought, or is it? In case you're wondering, I married that guy eight months later. A question I receive often is, "How did you make the decision to date and marry a younger guy? Travis and Leah, who have been married close to 20 years, met while attending the same six-week missions organization training.
I fought those affections like crazy. For the sake of this article, we'll define an age difference as five years or more. Here are four things to consider: Leah says one of her biggest concerns when considering a man 10 years younger was whether he had the maturity to understand her needs and take care of her. From our first conversation, I could tell he was very mature for his age. I guessed he was about Once I learned his actual age, I was concerned that he might not be ready to settle down and have a family, when I definitely was.
Even some something guys I knew didn't seem ready. But as I observed how he interacted with people at church and did his job, my fears were alleviated. At one point, he even confided that it had been his dream to have a wife and family since he was a young teen. I realized that Kevin was an "old soul," and we were ready for the same things. I felt removed from their age and current life stage," she says. She and Paul married anyway, and over time the difference in maturity dissipated.
A friend once told me that the acceptable age difference was half the older person's age plus seven. While I don't think it's important to adhere to an arbitrary formula when considering age in a potential relationship interestingly, when I met Kevin our age difference was exactly this ratio , I think it can be a good rule of thumb to help you consider if your relationship is appropriate. A 37 year old dating a 25 year old is different from a 30 year old dating an 18 year old.
I often tell people that Kevin and I met at the perfect time. He had graduated from college two months earlier, so we were both in the workforce fulltime.
Even though Kevin didn't have as much life experience as I did, our daily lives basically looked the same. If he had still been a "college kid," I might have had a hard time feeling like we were equals. And while the same life stage can seem to erase an age difference, Willy Wooten, a licensed marriage and family therapist, who has been counseling for over 30 years, encourages couples to think ahead.
If you hit it off because you both love rock climbing, consider if that's something that will be part of your relationship for years to come. Effect on the marital relationship. Another concern Leah had was whether she could submit to Travis as a spiritual leader. She says, "I asked myself, 'Will I be willing to submit even if his leadership is not as mature as I would like?
If you're considering getting serious with someone significantly older or younger than yourself, these are important things to discuss. How will you address potential challenges, such as being on different biological timetables, one of you ending up a caretaker, the timing of children, or dealing with gaps in maturity?
Before I began dating Kevin, a woman I worked with in children's ministry frequently asked me about him, seeing potential from the start. Finally, one day I blurted, "But he's eight years younger! Age is just a number. The problems we were talking through — for example, what if someday our sex drives didn't match up? We were just going to be more proactive about them. The bigger question was whether or not God was drawing us together.
And while we could exercise wisdom in thinking through some of the unique challenges we might face, we could also trust Him with the details. Travis was also tentative when he first developed feelings for Leah. He explains that during his years at a Bible college, he gave his desire for a spouse over to the Lord and asked Him to determine who his wife would be. After God prompted Travis to say the exact words Leah had been praying for, the answer seemed obvious. We wanted to be obedient to Him," he says.
The couple still serves together in ministry and has two teenage sons. And as we spent more time together and I prayed about it, my worries disappeared. This evidence came in the form of confirmation from godly friends and family members, a shared heart for children's ministry, the natural discovery and deepening of our like-mindedness, and peace.
For Travis and Leah, God provided specific confirmation. In truth, every couple should seek confirmation that their relationship is God's will. An age difference is just one factor to consider. Looking back, Travis says, "I think our cultural differences have been a bigger challenge than the age difference. But God brought us together, and He has sustained us.
Copyright Suzanne Hadley Gosselin. A Boundless Experience is a weekend event for unmarried young adults. In the DVD, presenters include: