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Relationships with a Big Age Difference

Is it Wise?

By Barrington H. Brennen, August 1, 2017



Barrington H. BrennenIs it okay to marry someone who is much older or younger than you are?    My answer to this question is not to condemn or condone, but the cause you to think objectively.   Truthfully, how much older or younger might be the concern.  Then, it does not matter who is older—the man or the woman.  It all depends on your outlook on life, personal needs and philosophies.    However, we are learning that great disparity in age may not be wise.     Also, when it comes to great age difference, the age when one gets married might also be important.   

For example, if one partner is twenty years old and the other partner thirty-five years old, or twenty to thirty years older, this may not be wise.  Both are at different maturity levels and will most likely view life differently.  This can cause serious hiccups in the marriage.     The younger one wants to get out and have fun with his or her energy and the old one wants to settle down and stay at home or do more seriously things.  

Let me pause here and share my own view of age differences in marriage.   First, it is my view that it does not matter who is older—the man or the woman.   The older women trend has been around for centuries.     Second, it is my view that the age difference should not go beyond seven years to ten years (male or female).     Why?  Beyond that difference in age we get into generational differences and perhaps health and lifestyle differences and even life experiences that can be difficult to understand or explain to the younger one.  Third, it is my view that couples should go through the lifestyle changes and adjustments together—menopause, andropause, retirement, fading energy, etc.   Usually, a seven to ten years age difference is not really that noticeable and even sometimes the older one can look younger and has more energy.  This is with the understanding that at the age of getting married that neither partner is an emerging adult—under the age of twenty-five.  As stated earlier, if one partner can be viewed chronologically a minor (18 to 25) although legally an adult, and the older one is ten or twenty years older, this might be a great mistake.   However, with the same age difference but getting married at an older age, can be less of a concern.

I encourage individuals reading this article who are falling in love with someone who is much older or younger to consider these points by Psychologist, Zawn Villines, from his article “Age Difference is Relationships.”  

  1. “Love can be fickle, and we don’t always fall for the right people. Sometimes a significant age gap makes a relationship impossible. If you get married to someone who is very young it might cause legal issues.”   Don’t be mesmerize by the beauty, sexiness, or intelligence of the partner. Be real.  Be objective in understanding that the age difference is to great and might be harmful.  

  2. “Before you begin a relationship with someone much younger or older than you, it’s important to make a careful assessment of your motivations.   Love knows no age, but if you date only people who are members of a different generation, it might reveal something about your approach to relationships. While people who date only people much younger or older than them owe no one an explanation, it may be helpful to consider underlying reasoning. . . Some who date only much older people may be seeking a parental figure more than a romantic partner. They may be insecure about finances and thus want to be with someone established in his or her career. If you have a history of dating people who are significantly younger than you, maybe you like feeling like your partner admires your experience, or perhaps you’re just not physically attracted to other people your age.”  

  3. If you insist to marrying someone who is much older or younger than you are, Psychologist Zawn Villines wants you to consider the following.  “No matter how understanding you are, it’s likely that you’re going to bump up against some generational differences. You might have different political views, find each other’s music obnoxious, or have no understanding of historical events that profoundly influenced your partner’s life. Bridge this difference by probing deeper and making a concerted effort to understand your partner’s viewpoint. A big age difference provides you with valuable opportunities to learn about alternative perspectives and experiences.”  

  4. “Although age differences can create some challenges in your relationship, focusing too much on age can backfire. While you need to be understanding of generational differences, attributing every disagreement to your partner’s age can leave you both feeling self-conscious and misunderstood. If you frequently tell your partner his or her age doesn’t matter, your partner might end up feeling like age is a significant issue, or even that you’re in the relationship specifically because of the age difference.”   

If you find yourself having to explain to other the age difference or you often feel embarrass about the age difference, then it will be foolish of you to get married to each other.  That will be a built-in recipe for disaster.

In a Glamour Magazine article for July 2016 by Ashley Ross states that “Couples with a big age difference need to think things through or risk finding themselves at conflicting stages in their relationship.”   Don’t let the need for sex, urgency to get married, or the fear of getting too old, lure you into a trap of making a poor decision.   Take your time. Think clearly.


Barrington H. Brennen, MA, NCP, BCCP, a marriage and family therapist and board certified clinical psychotherapist, USA.  Send your questions or comments to barringtonbrennen@gmail.com  or write to P.O. Box CB-13019, Nassau, The Bahamas, or visit www.soencouragement.org  or call 242-327-1980 




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