Friday, July 23, 2004

Age Differences

At dinner tonight, someone brought up how much age differences between members of a couple bother her. She thinks it's "gross" if an older man is married to or dating a younger woman and vice versa. Disparities of more than twelve years really bother her. She's OK with anything less.

The Mrs. is six and a half years younger than I. Usually, I don't even notice it. About the only time I do is when she talks about toys or television from her adolescence and I realize I was in college when the things she recalls were popular.

The aversion to big age differences between a man and his wife is a modern phenomenon, I suspect. Think about Jane Austen. Emma is in her late teens or, at most, very early twenties when she marries Mr. Knightley who resides somewhere in the neighborhood of 40.

I don’t see this as a moral issue, but an issue of prudence. So long as both parties are adults, I see no moral problem, but whether getting involved with someone significantly older or younger is wise has to be decided on a case-by-case basis. That said, I'd be a little suspicious of a guy in his fifties who routinely dated dewy-eyed twenty-somethings. Marriage and family, I would guess, would not be what he's looking for. I could be wrong, though.

What do you think? How big an age difference is too big? Does it matter? At what point, if ever, does it get "gross"?

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