Should age gap really matter?
Last Updated On: September 11, 2018 At: 12:01 (GMT+3) By: Mambo Mseto
We've all heard of the saying that age is just but a number, and that a person is only as old as they feel. This, I'd say, is an optimistic approach to the ageing process.
But the question is, does age really matter when it comes to relationships? Through the years, it has become the norm that a man should be older than his mate in a relationship or marriage.
On the other hand, questions will immediately popped up if the opposite happens - a younger man falling in love with an older woman. But surprisingly, even more questions will arise in a scenario where the man is much older than his woman.
Generally, a lot has been said about those who marry partners outside their age bracket. So what's the big deal with this age aspect anyway? Should age be a determining factor in the success of your relationship? For some insight into these and more, read on...
Janice Kungu*, 39, a Marketing Executive is dating a man 12 years younger and has no reservations about it. In fact, she claims that Anthony*, her boyfriend, treats her better and cares for her more than the older men she has gone out with. According to Janice, the issue of age in relationships is insignificant...
How do you sustain your relationship?
It's true that youthful people are more striking in the way they look, but age isn't everything that matters in the success of a relationship. In any case, if age really matters, the divorce rate among many young couples would not be so high. Being attracted to your partner or falling in love with them is dependent on many factors and not just age.
For example, couples have to respect one another and be transparent. Without these things, the fact that you're of the same age with your partner will not make your relationship flourish.
Furthermore, there are many relationships and marriages that have stood the test of time in spite of the age differences. Take a look at look at Wambui Otieno and Mbugua. Nobody thought their matrimony would last and yet several years down the road, they are still happy together.
Does the same hold true for old men dating very young women?
Despite the fact that a few old men chase after young girls for their own selfish reasons, some older men are also very earnest. Some young women date their age mates and end up very discontented, but find comfort with older men.
Dating an older man is a personal choice and every woman has her preferences. It could be the attention she gets from him, how well he treats her or the interests they share.
There's a very common misconception that young women who date or marry older men are doing so out of materialistic reasons. This is not necessarily true and people should not be judged based on the age of their mate.
On the other hand, not all older men should be tagged "sugar daddies" or perverts - this is also unreasonable. Everyone has a right to love, whether they are 18 or 78 years. There is no law that states people should only date or marry their age mates.
So, if you are happy and contempt with a much older partner, go for it. After all, we only get a few shots at true love and the older guy or woman could be the one...
Charles Adams* 58, an Englishman and entrepreneur living in Nairobi is married to a Kenyan woman, Anne Wambui*, who is only 27. Theirs is a relationship that has raised eyebrows everywhere they go. But interestingly, they have been happily married for 6 years and Charles says that they don't even notice the age difference...
How do you relate with a woman who is so much younger than you?
Anne is a very intelligent young lady and besides, it's not age that matters. What makes our marriage work is communication, transparency and the affection that we share.
Besides that, we also keep our relationship alive by doing things we like together. We have traveled to so many countries over the past six years and we never forget to keep the romance blooming.
We still have a candle-lit dinner every now and then and show each other romantic gestures every so often. But the sad thing is that some people, especially here in Kenya, talk behind our backs saying that I'm a sugar daddy or that Anne is a gold digger.
That's just spiteful and not true at all. If my wife was materialistic, she wouldn't have stayed with me for all these years. But I understand all this and have learnt to live with that.
Another thing that keeps us together is the fact that we have embraced each other's differences. At the end of the day, I don't have to be told that my wife is happy with me because I can see she is.
What about bedroom matters? Doesn't your age come in between?
(Laughs) No, I don't exactly feel hassled! Okay, I'm not trying to say that I can compete with younger men out there, but some of these things depend on how well you take care of yourself. For my part, I live a very healthy life. I exercise, eat healthy and do not smoke at all.
I'm also grateful that I don't suffer from lifestyle diseases that come with age such as. diabetes or high blood pressure. But most importantly, I haven't heard any complaints from my wife!
We are okay. Besides intimate matters, I make sure that I treat my wife with utmost love and respect. So I'm not scared at all about younger men out there stealing her from me! I am the man she loves, and she knows pretty well that very few men out there will respect and honour her the way I do. That is very important. When it comes to love, age is just a number...
Jane Kariuki*, 48, a Nairobi business woman is dating Michael*, a 26-year-old man. While she strongly supports the fact that age should not matter in relationships, she does not intend to marry Michael. This is what she had to say about the age gap in their relationship and the challenges they face...
Why do you think age should not play a big role in relationships?
If two people feel right for each other, age should not matter. What is important is the fact that we are both adults. Michael and I relate very well, and I don't think he's with me because of materialistic reasons.
He has a good career, we live together and he takes care of most of our household and personal needs. In my opinion, the success of any relationship depends on how well you relate with each other, that's all.
In fact, most relationships and marriages end up on the rocks because couples have predetermined qualities that they look for in a partner. That's how most people end up picking partners within their age bracket and forgetting to focus on real issues like how well they connect, similar interests and whether they truly love each other.
When there's an age gap, there's also an aspect of respect there. Your partner will look up to you when you are older than them.
Why isn't marriage an option in your relationship?
It's because of pressure from our society and as for me, my Kikuyu culture. What people need to appreciate is the fact that the world has changed, and just like you can date a person of a different race, so can you date a much younger person.
As long as the other party consents to the relationship, relatives and the like should not get in the way. It can be very upsetting, especially when people start branding you names or calling you a sugar mummy.
I find that totally childish. Back home in Nyeri, everyone asks why I am dating such a young man and others even laugh at me. So because Michael and I do not want to get caught up in these absurd ideologies, we have decided not to get married.
I think such pressure from family and the society is what pushes us to pick wrong partners in the urge to try and satisfy others. Anyway, Michael and I have no problem living together, as long as we love each other.
Fortunately, we are both very open-minded, and believe that a marriage ceremony is not what will keep our relationship alive. There are things that really matter, and we are focusing on those...
Factors that will make or break such a relationship
1) If there's a big age gap between you and your partner, it is important that your maturity levels match. Interestingly, some older partners may come across as extremely immature while the younger one acts maturely and responsibly.
These all depend on factors relating to personality differences or life experiences. Then again, you may find couples with a big age gap between them, but with an admirable maturity level.
For instance, you may find that a 50-year-old and a 30-year-old are very similar when it comes to their maturity levels.
Consequently, it is necessary that you look at your partner's maturity level to see if it matches yours. You will agree with me that spending your entire life with a childish person can be quite a draining affair.
2) Apart from maturity levels, couples should also look at other dynamics that will play a big role in determining the success of your relationship.
These include common interests and goals that you share with your partner. If you have nothing in common, then you have everything to worry about. Most couples who get along are those who share common ideologies and likings.
For instance, an atheist and a religious person are unlikely to be in sync with each other. The same theory holds true for interests. While it is quite healthy to have differences in your preferences, it is vital that you share time together doing things that you both enjoy. So think about whether the age gap in your relationship will affect activities done together.
Be it swimming, watching movies or traveling or being outdoors, the times spent together is what will keep your relationship stronger.
3) You also need to look at whether the age difference will come between you and your personal goals. Most importantly, you need to ask yourself whether your partner's age will fall in with your lifestyle.
For instance, if you are youthful and planning on having children and developing your career, will that be possible if your partner is say 70 years old? Will he/she be able to give you the children you want, much less help in bringing them up?
Such are the things that must never be overlooked. In such a situation, you need to sit down with your partner and discuss your future expectations together. Don't just get lost in the present only to regret later. It is essential that you talk about how the age gap in your relationship may affect your lives in say, 10 or 20 years down the road...
* Not their real names