Age Gap Relationships: Do They Work?

Age Gap Relationships: Do They Work?

I didn’t know my husband’s age until our third date. By this point we’d known each other for five years through work and he’d always been very careful not to mention his exact age or give away other clues which might lead me to a conclusion. I knew he was older of course – you can’t meet someone multiple times and speak to them pretty much daily on the phone and by email without guessing they’re not in their 20s.

It’s funny how in our relationship, the moment Dylan revealed that number is a real key point, whereas for most it was probably a complete non-event. But yet, in a world where we accept so many different relationships – whether it’s same-sex, mixed-race or some woman who apparently married the Eiffel Tower (okay, so maybe we haven’t got quite that far with our acceptance!) – it still seems to be a ‘thing’ if one of you is considerably older than the other.

I grant you, sometimes I look at him completely blankly when he references TV programmes or films made before I was even conceived. And he totally doesn’t get my everlasting love for the Spice Girls (I’m a 90s kid, you can’t have been a seven-year-old girl when Wannabe was released without adoring Girl Power forever). But aside from that, our relationship works in the same way it would if we’d been born on the same day.

Perhaps it would have been different had I met him at a bar or in a club. In all honesty had a significantly older man approached me and tried to chat me up I probably would have said ‘thanks, but no thanks’, turned away and that would have been the end of that. But what really happened was I joined a company back when I was 19 and I had to call Dylan up as part of my job. For the first year or so maybe, conversation didn’t extend much past work and ‘how are you? Did you have a nice weekend?’ Gradually however, we got to know each other and revealed snippets of our lives so by the time I’d been in the job five years, I considered him a friend. I introduced him to the Inbetweeners, he talked about camping trips with his daughter. I looked forward to his calls and emails.

There was lots of joking in both offices about the potential for romance and heavy hints from both our colleagues but it took until he was being made redundant for him to ask me out on a date. Nearly four years, two babies, a wedding, a house move, a couple of career changes and a whole bunch of ups, downs, tears and laughs later, here we are.

Dylan isn’t an age. He isn’t a number. He’s the constant in my day, the person who makes me cry with laughter frequently, the up when I’m down, the person I’ve made my life with, the father of my children, my friend and my husband. Okay, we’re not going to have a long retirement together and our future plans very much focus around me becoming the main wage earner as he winds down his career. So, we won’t have years of watching Countdown on full volume eating Werther’s Originals and wearing matching slippers. We probably chose to have children earlier in our relationship than we would have done had he been younger.

But aside from that, there are very few negatives to be drawn from our age gap. We braced ourselves for a storm from strangers, family and friends that never really came. There is one person who has chosen not to be involved in our lives and while that’s incredibly sad, it does have to be chalked up as ‘their loss’ not ours, especially considering they’re missing out on the two incredible children who’ve come from our relationship. However, pretty much everyone else has been very relaxed about it all. My family totally accepted him with barely a mention of his age, and a few of my friends remarked that they weren’t surprised I’d ended up with an older guy. He’s great company so I think once people met him they focused on that rather than his age, and the fact was we both knew very early on that this wasn’t just a fling, we were heading for marriage and babies.

So, I guess all that’s left is for me to say: my husband is 30 years older than me. Written down on paper it sounds like a lot. He’s three years older than my mom, he’d already been in his career ten years by the time I was born and in a couple of years we’ll celebrate my 30th and his 60th. But I’m going to leave the last words to my dad who, upon learning of the age gap, said: “Are you happy? Well then, who gives a shit?”

Harriet Ernstsons-Evans

Owner of a toddler, a baby and a husband. Journo turned freelance writer. Specialises in dramatic postpartum stories. When I grow up I want to be Dolly Parton or Judge Judy.

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