Recently friends were discussing age differences in dating and marriage. One thought the same age to three years’ difference was ideal. Another said she thought less than five. Both of them had a difference they considered too great—one was ten years, the other twelve.
I learned a lesson on this subject from my mother’s experience.
When she was eighteen, she was engaged to a friend’s brother who was thirty. Her parents felt he was much too old for her.
“When you’re fifty, you’ll still be young and want to go out and have fun. He’ll be sixty-two, retired, and want to stay home. The age difference is just too great,” her father told her.
She finally decided he was right and broke off the engagement.
She married my dad in October of 1942 when she was twenty-four. He was twenty-five.
Dad was home on leave before being deployed in WWII at the time of their wedding. They were apart for the next three years. Dad finally arrived back in the US in 1945.
He died of arteriosclerosis in 1954 at the age of thirty-seven.
In 1970, she married again, this time to a man who was sixteen years younger than she. The difference didn’t show in their appearances, however. The marriage lasted for eight years before they were divorced, but their ages had nothing at all to do their issues.
I’ve always believed one reason she married this particular man was so he could outlive her. She didn’t want to be widowed again.
After their divorce, they saw each other regularly and even traveled and vacationed together. They were each other’s best friends.
Twenty years after their divorce, he died at the age of sixty-three. Mom was seventy-nine, walked at least a mile and a half every day, and stayed active.
Through the years, she kept track of her friend’s brother. He married, and he and his wife went dancing once or twice a week. He continued dancing well into his eighties. My grandparents’ concern simply wasn’t justified in the long run.
When she died at age ninety-three, Mom had outlived both of her husbands.
So what is the ideal age difference?
Larry is two years older than I. That was pretty normal for the time we were dating. It works for us. But is it ideal? Is there an ideal?
I’m inclined to believe age is just a number, but it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with a person’s energy or enthusiasm for life. What do you think?