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A is for Age Difference, by Sara, Editor & Chief Features Writer, at www.underthevintageveil.com
When John and I first met at work (as corny as it sounds) there was an instant spark. He piped up in a friendly debate about politics. I called him an idiot and he walked away with a big, annoying self-satisfied grin on his face. Despite an eight-year age gap, I was smitten.
It didn’t take me long, however, to notice the potential issues our age difference could throw our way. On paper, eight years is nothing – and had we met in ten years’ time I doubt I even would have noticed it. However, working at the same company put a much larger emphasis on the age difference than we would have initially thought about if we’d met in a different context.
Being a young and idealistic graduate in her first job, John being a manager at the business (thankfully not in my department) with ten years’ experience and far more gravitas seemed to widen the gap. Comforting me over a drink with some friendly words of advice after a particularly stressful day in the office he called me “a good kid”. He later explained this away as “just something I said because I was trying to be nice” but at the time I was convinced he saw our age difference as a problem – me as a kid to be mentored and him as the adult.
Once I finally plucked up the courage to follow him around with an inane grin on my face until he figured out he was my boyfriend (throw away the rulebook, ladies) the age difference threw a whole other curveball my way. John, being eight years my senior, had been in an eight-year, live-in relationship. Me, being in my very early twenties and just having graduated university, had never come close to that level of commitment. I was used to visiting student boyfriends in grotty digs and sneaking around at parents’ houses. John had his own house – a home and pets he had shared with someone else.
That’s when the green-eyed monster came out. Somehow his ex being older glamorised her. It wasn’t fair – if I were only a few years older I could have been “the one” from the start and there would never have been another “one” for him. This feeling was only exacerbated when I moved in. I began obsessively redesigning, replacing the furniture – I didn’t want to feel like I’d moved into another woman’s house. John, being the amazing and understand man I married this week, was exceptionally kind about the whole thing and we redecorated together, slowly making it into our home, our nest ready for our married life together.
Coming from a liberal, feminist mindset I was also initially uncomfortable about the disparity in our earnings. Being ten years ahead of me in his career, it goes without saying that he earned a lot more than me – and I was always so conscious to pay my way, even when I couldn’t quite afford it and despite his protests. It took me a year and a half to come around to the idea of sharing money and that, as long as we were both working hard, it didn’t matter to him – or to me – who earned more. The day we joined our bank accounts was a terrifying step for me. I felt, in some ways, a failure – but as John pointed out, how else were we to start a life, let alone a marriage, together? After all, with one of us earning comfortably and the other struggling, how were we meant to build a future in which we were both happy and secure? How would it work when it came to raising kids?
Then there are the minor things. When John reminisces about a song he used to listen to in university and I have to remind him that I was eleven when it came out – or when he references a TV show or film that was before my time and it has to be explained to me. And of course, the age difference accounts for his Jurassic taste in music (sorry John) and shameless embarrassing dad dancing (you haven’t seen air guitar quite like John’s. Seriously.).
On the other hand, the age difference has its benefits. He’s far less squeamish than me about the icky things in life, like cleaning kitty litters and such. He’s also a much more experienced and accomplished cook – which means I’ve learned so much about cooking from him and that I have my own , personal, gourmet chef after a long day of blogging!
From what I’ve written, you’d be forgiven for thinking our age difference brought up a plethora of problems. Don’t get me wrong, as you can see, it got me thinking, but that was just it – I was overthinking. None of the feelings that came bubbling up for me on a gut reaction were actual issues. Yes, John was more senior at work, but we got over that pretty quickly and for unrelated reasons I moved jobs anyway. Yes, John had been in a long relationship and trying to live up to his past was painful and scary – but the ex in question was no longer in his life. He was ready to move on with the lessons he’d learned from that relationship and that made it so much easier for me to accept his past as his past. Plus, we all know women mature faster in relationships (wink) so the fact that he had an eight-year head start probably put us on even footing! Finally, our finances were only a problem because of my pride and stubbornness. How could I expect to be earning the same as him after such a short time? It was an unrealistic and unfounded expectation. In short, all of these problems were ones I created in my head – they never came from him and they never will.
Our age difference, all things considered, is no big deal. We share the same ideals, the same passions and a strong bond of friendship. We laugh together, talk, cry and everything in between. As cheesy as it sounds, when you find your soulmate, all the small problems that an issue like age can bring up are totally surmountable as long as you talk about them and work through them together.