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  5. I have an age-gap marriage, and my parents do, too. Being married to my husband helped me understand my parents better.

I have an age-gap marriage, and my parents do, too. Being married to my husband helped me understand my parents better.

Lara Gibson   

I have an age-gap marriage, and my parents do, too. Being married to my husband helped me understand my parents better.
  • When I met my husband Dan, I barely thought about the difference in our ages.
  • However, he's almost 20 years older than I am, and my parents are in an age-gap marriage, too.

I was terrified to tell my mom how old my partner was when she asked.

"Ummm, he's in his late 30s, I guess," I mumbled to her over the phone. I was slicing almost a decade off his age.

Growing up, my dad was often mistaken for my grandad due to his gray hair and 15-year age gap with my mom. I can remember several times when I was asked by classmates why my dad was so old.

I'd always imagined marrying someone my age, raising a family, then growing old and retiring together. But when I met Dan on a beach in Egypt early in 2023, I hardly thought about his age for the first few months of dating. He was adventurous, fun-loving, and liked to party as much as my peers, despite being almost 20 years older.

It was only when my mom asked about his age that the uncomfortable truth dawned on me. I had copied my parents' marriage and chosen to be with a much older man.

A first, I was worried about how much older he was

Aside from the psychological ick that I'd styled my own relationship after my parents', there were a number of other reasons age-gap relationships made me uncomfortable.

The potentially unbalanced power dynamic worried me. Typically, the older party is likely to have much more financial power, and I never wanted to be in a position where I would be dependent on my partner.

Age discrepancies in relationships also raise other issues. My mom is gearing up for a decade of caring for my dad. In my situation, I wondered if Dan would want to have children and spend weekends playing around with them.

I was concerned that perhaps we weren't compatible in the long term and faced a generational disconnect. What if he found me too young, or thought I was immature? What if I was unable to relate to him on an emotional level because I lacked life experience?

There is also a general sense of — and worry over — judgment from others. None of my friends had raised eyebrows when I told them his age, but I was nervous to meet his family for the first time, especially as I was much closer in age to his nieces and nephews than his siblings.

Fortunately, my parents, his mom, and his wider family greenlit our relationship after they met us and even commented on how well-matched we are in terms of what we want out of life.

I got over it, and our relationship helped me understand my parents better

Time showed me that just because it's unconventional doesn't mean it isn't right for us. I never cared about Dan's age when I was getting to know him, and it doesn't play a significant factor in our day-to-day relationship.

So I decided to ignore it and focus on the many good reasons I chose to be with him: his kindness, compassion, and excitement for life. He agreed to adopt a street puppy with me, and we're planning on moving to a new country together later this year.

It's also helped me better understand my parents' relationship. My mom was younger than me when she met my dad, and she told me he gave her the financial and emotional security she craved, which initially I thought was deeply unromantic.

But as I see them enjoying retirement and exploring the world together, it all makes sense. My dad jokes that my mom keeps him young, and their relationship has clearly flourished over the decades despite the age gap.

Dan and I are expecting our first child together this summer, and he is overjoyed to be a first-time dad. He was always the one getting up multiple times in the night to put our puppy out to potty, and I have no doubt he'll be the more enthusiastic partner about staying up late into the night with our newborn baby.