Age in Relationships

I’m dating a woman a few years older than me. She is beautiful and perfect but in the world of male machismo this is a problem. I’m supposed to be older and wiser, instead I’m the puny non-breadwinner.

To fully understand this dilemma we have to explore sexism, in all it’s glory. Traditional relationships involve a male who is a few years older than the female. This leaves the lady to enjoy the benefits of a higher income and a mature man. The dude gets the younger lady and the ego boost of being wiser.

This totally leaves out gay couples, couples of the same age, and most likely a majority of the country. Which is kind of sad because this is our culture. So instead of gaining all this wisdom and help, it only serves to hamper and confuse us. Simply put, the U.S. culture is not made for me and I think we should amp it up and modernize it.

Particularly because I’m in the relationship of my life and I have no idea what to do. The lady has a few years on me and is at a different stage physically. For kids, her biology says it’s now or never, while I’ve got a few years to dilly-dally. Should I make her wait or pony-up early?

What about money, the ultimate relationship killer. I’m just coming out of my debt years thanks to college, a car, and haphazardly getting a mortgage. I’m doing fine now with all that paid off or turned into equity builders, but it still puts a strain on the relationship.

Studies say that even having debt in a relationship is a big deal. It creates an imbalance that hurts future money decisions.

Top it all off, I’m a few years behind in my career. I have less experience, less income earning years, and less opportunity. Not because of ineptitude but simply less time on target.

So there it is the crux of age in relationships: kids, debt, and income. I could also say maturity but often couples in relationships love each other for their personalities. It’s these other factors – life factors – that get in the way.  Add in a dose of ineffectual culture and nascent sexism and you have a confusing mixture that definitely puts a strain on the ego.

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  1. Same, I don’t need them but the clock is ticking. Couple more years left in the egg bank. We are almost in the exact same situation in our relationship (age of both parties, career paths of both parties, both males being homeowners previously), except I am the one with more debt into the relationship. Some of our stresses have been financial, if not most of them. Essentially its been about building a new home for ourselves and our future. We’ve been working hard to get me completely out of debt in order to build our new home of our dreams to take our relationship to the next level.

    As for him being younger than me and career wise, not as established, that has not been an issue for me. I am very happy to carry the financial weight of the relationship as I have carried myself since joining the Army. At the same time, I have been very supportive as his career has taken shape to a positive direction in the past year, back to the track he was on when he was just out of high school.

    I am not rushing him into marriage or kids, but they are things I know I want with him and he wished the same. However, I know 2010 was a very difficult year for us emotionally and financially, especially in the second half with our careers in flux, yet again. We are starting 2011 off in a more positive direction and I am very confident that after we settle into a new home, new career we will continue to grow our relationship in a positive direction with that as our main focus.

  2. I think that age is less of an issue than you think – rather, it just happens to be the focal point around which your various relationship issues are coalescing. I’ve been in two prior very serious relationships – one with a same-age man to whom I was engaged and one with a much older man of significant means; that relationship was also marriage-oriented. So I can say this from experience: All relationships have issues of inequality, and those issues are all hard. Being at exactly the same stage was difficult – we were both striving for the same things at the same times. Being the younger woman was actually the hardest – there was no room for developing my own priorities and interests; there was an expectation I’d just fit into his life and that, because of his greater wealth & position, my professional interests were seen as only sort of “cute.” Oh and by the way, there’s never a right time to have kids either; the more professionally successful a person becomes, the more of a sacrifice it seems to take time for parenthood; while before one is successful, it seems like it would be a huge set-back … you have to do it when you feel like you have a steady enough partnership and enough love to give.Regardless of age, issues of debt, financial contributions to the relationship, future goals, and whether everything is going to be okay is hard … there is no road map. You have to make the road by walking.

  3. Wouldn’t worry too much about the age difference. I think people are very accepting of that now. Age is just a number 🙂

    The kids question is harder. I was 34 when I had my child. My body wanted me to have babies a LOT earlier. But at 34 my husband and were mentally for the commitment and sacrifice we anticipated.

    We were NOT ready for the reality. Is anybody? I was a stay at home mom and loved it but we both had a hard time adjusting to all the changes. It was hard on our marriage, and we didn’t make it. We’re friends again after the divorce. Kids do change everything, including your relationship, intimacy, career, your body, who you hang out with, and the way you look at the world. I think it took ten years for me to get back to my identity as a person, as opposed to just someone who took care of my son.

    No one tells you how incredibly hard the first three years of child-raising is. It is crazy hard. Relentless! Fun too but so exhausting. So in some ways, being younger is good, because it is massively taxing on your physical and emotional energy. But waiting is also good because lord knows you are tied down after kids. Every decision in your life is governed by them.

    My life is also richer. I am more loving, more patient, and more resourceful since I had my son. I understand things I did not understand before. I am more open to the world. I learn more. He did that for me.

    If you have lots of family support (e.g. loving grandparents in waiting) it’s so much easier on you and your relationship, and if you do, you might go for it, on the other hand, no harm in waiting until you feel really ready. The best birth control in the world is babysitting your friend’s baby or toddler for a night 🙂

    1. I’m glad you guys are friends again, I’m sure that is 10x better than divorced and hating each other!

      I agree with the family part too. I’m already working on that but I think i have it easy. My mom is awesome with kids, works in schools, and already has offered to provide major help.

  4. @robotchampion: Older doesn’t correlate to wiser. There are lots of guys who don’t have a fraction of the wisdom you have, and that’s why I’m with you, and not them. You have the wisdom (and the grumpiness) of an old wise man!

  5. I don’t think anyone is ever “ready for kids.” I dont care how many books you read or whatever – you cannot anticipate what they will bring to your life.

    Whenever it happens it will change your life. Change it now, earlier, and when they grow up and leave you’ll still have some life to live. 😉

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