Public opinion on larger than "normal" age gaps in relationships truly run the gambit in regard
to their "social" acceptance. Does the "Half-age-plus-seven relationship rule" hold merit in today's society? There are of course those that don't give a second thought when they view couples with an age disparity. Others don't necessarily agree that it is a good thing but are supportive if they see a couple that is obviously in love and appear to have a healthy relationship. And then there is the group of people that have very strong feelings to the point of being very vocal and offensive toward couples that have a substantial age disparity! This then brings up the age old question of "how big of an age difference is too big"? How do you quantify it, and is the answer the same across all cultures? Unfortunately I don't have the answers and all that I can do is provide you with my perspective considering that there is a 20 year age gap between myself and my wife (58/38). In addition to our age disparity we are from different races/cultures (myself an American expat and my wife Thai).
Public Opinion Does it matter?
Should you base your relationship decisions on public opinion? My answer to that is an absolute no! Being in and maintaining a relationship is a personal decision between the two individuals involved. In my opinion the factors that I have listed below are some of the primary considerations when entering an "age gap" relationship.
Do your religious beliefs/ideologies align (if not is this an issue in the relationship)
Do you share the same interests (not necessary to do everything together but are there enough shared commonalities)
Are your relationship/life goals (both short and long term) compatible
Children (currently existing and possibility of future)
Do you truly enjoy each other's company
Do you have the same financial goals
Do you have the support of close friends/family? If not are you both prepared to deal with the challenges that might present themselves with strained or possibly lost relations with friends/family?
I did mention above that public opinion shouldn't be a factor in your choice to maintain your relationship. That being said I do believe that you need to take into consideration the possibility of strained relations with "closed minded" friends/family. It is normal that they might question the motives of yourself and your partner if you have a larger age gap such as I have with my wife (20 years). If they truly are your friends and have faith in you to make the right decisions they will ultimately support your relationship. If they are the type of people that become verbally abusive and start throwing demeaning comments your way then this is an indicator that you seriously need to re-evaluate their friendship. If they are truly your friend or close caring family member then they should ultimately place faith in you and your decision and be happy that you have someone in your life that you truly love and that reciprocates that love.
The factors that I listed above should (in my opinion) apply to all relationship decisions regardless of age or race difference. The bottom line is that what most people seek in a relationship are Love, Commitment and Companionship. If you and your partner truly have these three things in your relationship and are happy together then by all means you should move forward. Now I know that it is not always that "cut and dried" and there are many "grey" areas when it comes to issues of the heart. Ultimately you and your partner are the only ones that can and should make these serious life decisions.
To begin with let's take a look at the data from the 2013 American Community Survey. Keep in mind that this data was compiled in the USA and does not necessarily reflect statistics on a global scale. Per the indications of this particular survey I fall into the 1.0 % group of husbands that have a wife 20+ years younger (we have an age gap of 20 years). The majority of marriages per this chart indicate an age difference within 1 year and once the age gap reaches 9 years the percentages drop off rather rapidly. The statistics clearly indicate that it is more likely that the husband is older than the wife and it quite rare to find a woman married to a man that is more than 10 years younger.
This next chart indicates the relative likelihood of divorce increases as the age difference increases. In my particular circumstance according this chart my marriage is 95% more likely to end in divorce as compared to a couple with no age difference. Again these statistics are based on USA data and don't necessarily reflect what is happening in your country and it doesn't address the aspect of being in a mixed race marriage.
"Half your age plus 7 rule"
The "half your age plus 7 rule" sounds good to me! I'm currently 58 so going by this "rule" it should be "socially acceptable" for me to have a wife that is between 35 and 99. My wife is 38 so if this rule has merit all should be well in the eyes of our social peers. But hold on a minute now... where did this rule come from? Who determined that this rule has merit?
I have not been able to track down the origin of this particular rule aside from a comment in Wikipedia that it is thought to be of French origin. I have found multiple references to it going back as far as 1901 in Max O'Rell's "Her Royal Highness Woman" where it is stated "A man should marry a woman half his age, plus seven." There is a similar interpretation in the 1951 play "The Moon is Blue" by F. Hugh Herbert. The list goes on but I have not been able to locate any type of research data that substantiates this rule and hypothesize the origin being from someone looking to justify their own particular circumstance.
From looking at the statistics it would be real easy to become discouraged when they indicate that a prevalence of failure for large "age gap" relationships. I didn't present this information to try and discourage anyone but rather to evoke thought and inspire conversation between partners. It is up to you and your partner alone to decide how to proceed in your relationship. It is my belief (opinion) that it all goes back to what I stated in the beginning of this article. This is a personal decision. The "haters will hate" and there is nothing you can do about that. The most important thing to remember here is that if you and your partner have a mutual bond in a relationship that you both benefit from and are both happy with then live life together, share in the pleasures of a beneficial and meaningful bond and don't let the negative attitude of others bring you down. The statistics that I shared are simply that! They are just statistics... If I paid too much attention to them I would need to call my wife into my office and tell her that we are doomed and had best give up now... Ha... not going to happen. We have talked about this and both agree that communication is key to us having a long term successful marriage. For the two of us our age difference is not an issue and we actually find it to be beneficial on so many levels.
The circumstances behind every relationship are different. In my case I feel very fortunate that my wife and I found each other. I truly believe that we have a strong relationship based on two people that by fate crossed paths and almost immediately knew we belonged together. We have been fortunate in that we have not had anyone whose opinion matters express anything but joy in seeing us together. From my wife's perspective our age difference is very well accepted and considered to be normal. Her parents have a similar "age gap" with her Father currently 94 and her Mother 76. This is not unusual here in Thailand as many Thai women prefer men that are older which typically means that they are more mature, financially secure and less likely to be out at the bars looking for young girls. Do I worry that she will get tired of her "old" husband? Actually I don't! This doesn't fit her belief system or "family culture". She takes great care of me as I do her. We both contribute to our household on a financial and emotional basis. We truly enjoy each other's company whether it's in the bedroom, off at a family function or just hanging out in the house. Everyone that see's us together knows that we are "for real". We have nothing to prove to anyone except for each other and our daughter.
Coming Soon! My next article will be about "The Cost of Living in Thailand"
We live in a rural farming community that is in the "Isaan" region of Northeast Thailand. We are slowly getting to know other couples (Expat/Thai) in our area and it is quite clear that we are not alone in our way of thinking and joy of a simple lifestyle. Our lifestyle living in the Isaan region is nothing like what most "foreigners" perceive as a Thai lifestyle. When most people think of living in Thailand they think of places like Phuket, Pattaya or Bangkok and a life of beaches, booze, women and parties. That lifestyle may be great for some but for us we prefer the more family oriented rural living. My next article "The Cost of Living in Thailand" will give you a peek into our Isaan lifestyle and what it cost us on on a monthly basis to live here. Be sure to sign up for the MAILING LIST so that you will receive notifications when new articles and website con
Feel free to contact us via the CONTACT FORM if you have any comments or questions. If you enjoyed reading this article you might also be interested my article titled "Top Five Pros and Cons to a Mixed Race Relationship".
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