Several years ago, my daughter told me that my grandson “Bill” had a girlfriend,” Mary,” but he was reluctant to tell me about it because Mary was older than he was. Bill was aware that in our unyielding horse and buggy culture, a man is supposed to be older than a woman. Isn’t it amazing that in our “anything goes” world, we still give chronological age the power to rule or ruin our lives? The power is given to “age awareness” by a culture that has not kept up with reality and sticks like glue to outdated norms when making important life decisions.
I was thrilled to learn Bill had a girlfriend! When he finally told me the “awful truth” about Mary’s age, I assured him I didn’t care how old she was. The critical question was, did they make each other happy, and was she a good human being? I also felt her maturity would benefit the relationship. They are still together. I love her unconditionally and whether or not they marry and have children is their decision. It’s their life, not mine or anyone else’s.
In many families, a man who loves an older woman often has much to deal with. A significant demand, especially from the mother or grandmother of the family, is “They better marry soon. I want grandkids”. Oh really? Whether or not they have children is their decision, not Mama’s or Grandma’s. Of course, it would be nice if the grandkids came along and everyone was happy about it, but parents or grandparents should have no say in that decision.
Parents, you have lived your life; let your kids live their life. If they choose to or cannot have children, that’s not your business. You do not own your adult children, so don’t harass them about what they should do to please you or do what is culturally expected.
If a man marries a much older woman who cannot bear children, it can be a nightmare for the man. Mama may be embarrassed that the woman looks her age. And Grandma wails, “He should marry someone who can have children to carry on the family name.” But, guess what, Grandma — while family legacy is important to you, carrying on your family name is not as important as you think it is. Over time no one will remember the family name ever existed. I realize how cold that sounds, but that’s reality.
What about a woman who marries a much older man? Oh, that’s different! In our culture, that’s okay. Wink-wink! He’s a stud! Good for him! However, men generally do not live as long as women; and sooner or later, the woman may become a widow with children. Many potential suitors do not want to raise another man’s children. We feel sorry for her, but our sorrow does not pay the bills or provide companionship.
So much potential pain, angst, and agony are caused by obedience to the outdated belief that the age of a woman matters. (My mother was distraught that I was marrying a man two years younger than I, but she got over it.) Other than the childbearing years, why does the age of a woman matter in a loving relationship? Why do we allow adherence to an outdated belief that “age matters” when there is no credible evidence that it does matter or matters to a limited extent (child bearing years)? Chronological age is an empty number. It’s simply a measure of time. It has no value or power except what is assigned by a culture that hasn’t kept up with reality.
The bottom line is you can allow age awareness to rule and even ruin your life. You have a choice. You can live according to society’s ” age rules,” or you can live and think for yourself. You have that capacity and power, so use it for your benefit, not for the pleasure of Grandma or anyone else. Is that selfish? Maybe. Or maybe it just makes sense.