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Ask Sherry: What’s it like being with someone 15 years older than you?

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What has your experience been like being with someone 15+ years older than yourself? I am in an age-gap relationship myself (19 years), and was wondering if you’ve experienced similar advantages/challenges.

Well.

The challenges are:

  • Totally different generation – did not grow up with the same things. We don’t listen to the same music in the least, and only have Classical in common which is nice. We have different cultural references, EVERYTHING IS DIFFERENT.
  • Different cultural views – He is French, I am not. This means he is very fixed in certain ways, and less concerned in others — like with North Americans being all about children working
  • Very set in his ways – He has been learning to let go and be a little more flexible, but I gotta tell you, this is the hardest thing, is how SURE he is of EVERYTHING because he is older – I don’t back down in fights though.
  • Used to a patriarchal model – He is not very patriarchal himself, and is a feminist who sees everyone as individuals not as men or women, BUT… he grew up with his mother doing everything for the home and for the kids, and his father working and making money. This model, means he isn’t used to seeing the father change diapers, or take care of their kids (and not call it BABYSITTING when it is your own child) and with Little Bun we had a lot (and still have a lot) of disagreements and fights on this. It has gotten better in that he is now very aware of it, trying, and trying to anticipate my needs before I blow up, and he is working on it which is better than ignoring the issue.
  • Very dominant – I suspect it is because he is older. He feels like he has more experience (true) and knowledge (true), BUT! he isn’t always right and he feels like he is just because he is older.
  • People also think I’m some sort of trophy wife – young, beautiful, smart….. And we get SOME flack for this because they think HE is the one with all the money and that’s how he ‘got me’. They’re surprised if they ever realize / find out that I am just as rich as he is (we have about the same amount saved but I am 15 years younger), and I pay half for everything. Honestly, I’d make a terrible trophy wife because I don’t cook well, I am not particularly fond of domestic tasks like cleaning but I will do it, and I don’t really work on keeping in shape or looking cute for anyone but myself, which sounds terrible, but is true. The good thing is he doesn’t care about my looks, it has always been my personality and heart he was after, and I’ve known that from the start.

The good things are:

  • As he has grown up patriarchal, he does take on tasks to do for free, where in my case I’d pay for such as car maintenance/cleaning – he does it all himself, and I’d rather pay someone; he cleans the fridge every year, the radiators, the vents, and the shower stalls when they gunk up.
  • As he is also older, he is more set in the way he likes things organized and done – the kitchen is all him. He organizes the pots, pans, where things should go, as he is the one cooking, and I just follow the rules / structure. He is picky, I am not.
  • I love hearing / learning about the different ways we grew up – generationally, and from a cultural / country perspective too, this is one of the most important and interesting aspects of our relationship, is how different we are, and how we can bring it all together
  • Being in a patriarchal model as a kid, he does kind of default to me for Little Bun which is nice, but sometimes he will make ‘big’ decisions like schooling without consulting me, and I remember screaming at him for this, I was so furious. He didn’t do it on purpose in the sense that he made the decision on his own, but he never even thought to talk to me because it wasn’t how it was done in his house – this has since changed, thankfully.
  • He is older – has more money saved, at a different point in his life, which is nice. As he is retired early, he goes back to school, has more time now with Little Bun, isn’t stressed about work or money, and it helps because I sometimes get overwhelmed with everything I am doing, and he steps in and vacuums or does extra stuff because he’s got the free time and sees it has to get done without someone asking or nagging him
  • Also with him being older – he is organized with his money, efficient and I don’t have to worry about him running our finances into the ground because we are separate, but equal.
  • Being dominant as the older one, he does take charge more of things like moving, packing for trips, organizing etc, and I am happy to let him take the lead. He likes doing things HIS WAY and I just stay out of the way. I have offered many times to help and he says No each time because it is just easier for him to do it his way, in his brain, alone than with me coming in and messing up his plans
  • We trust each other – I have no interest in any other person, and vice versa (anyway, where is he going to go? He has it GREAT with me and I am an amazing person, and he knows it. :-P)
  • He is very old-school romantic. When we were first dating, he wrote me poems like: The days are so long without you, please come back so you can make time fly again. It sounds so mushy and sentimental, but that’s the way he is, and even the other day he told me: I am very happy we ended up at the same place together with this crappy company because without them, I would have never found you, my love.
  • He understands that guys don’t cook and the ones who do, even today, have a HUGE advantage, and he knows I love to eat so much, he cooks and is happy to see me eat and be happy.

Those are my pluses and minuses.

Yours?

Still have a burning question?

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Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

I got out of $60,000 of debt in 18 months using TheBudgetingTool.com. Since then, I have worked 50% of my career (taking 1-2 year breaks), and quadrupled my income within 2 years of graduating, going from $65K to $260K (savings rate = 85%). I could retire today if I wanted, but love my work-life balance as a freelancing consultant in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math). I also post daily on Instagram @saverspender.

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4 Comments

  1. A
    Alice

    Stubbornness is my biggest issue as well. My partner so believes that he is right that he won’t concede that i’m ever right.
    The thought never occured to me that others might see you as a trophy wife, but that’s so true. It would take a little getting to know you to look past that, especially during times you’re not working.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      He always thinks he is right and gets mad when I say something because then he thinks I think I am always right. Eye roll.

      The thing is, I know what I am and what I look like. I also get surprised comments, and it can be a bit annoying sometimes because I am someone who pulls her weight in a relationship on all counts, but no one sees that when you first meet us

      Reply
  2. S
    Steveark

    You know it is so strange. Two of my best friends married women 15 or more years younger than them. One friend was kind of arrogant, spoiled and selfish and the woman he married seemed superficial and kind of a princess. He was my frenemy throughout my career and I know who he is inside. The other couple were both kind and loving and made a game out of the disparity of their ages, they were two of the best people I knew, so kind and generous and selfless.

    But now thirty years later the couple made up of the two people I judged rather harshly have stuck together like glue through her breast cancer, his career disintegration and serious health issues for him. There were times when either of them could have run for the exit and a better looking life but they didn’t. They held together heroically Their child overcame a life threatening condition and is now a grown medical doctor. The “good” couple? They barely lasted five years and separated bitterly.

    I don’t know what the lessons are in that but reading your post made me ponder the dichotomy.

    Had I been allowed to place a bet on which couple would have stood the test of time I’d have been completely wrong.

    Reply
    1. Sherry of Save. Spend. Splurge.

      That’s really interesting. I suppose you can’t ever really tell who will work out or not, because you aren’t in that relationship – you aren’t the person there.

      I can tell you for certain, he is the social opposite of me. No one can believe that someone like me (friendly, warm, etc), can be with someone so cold and seemingly distant. They don’t know him though. He doesn’t open up to people he doesn’t know because he doesn’t see the point in false pleasantries and wasting time with them when he isn’t sure he will be friends with them, below a superficial level. I just hedge my bets and am nice to everyone.

      But the friends he has made, are friends for life, and have lasted past decades of not being in the same city, let alone country. I can only say that of ONE friend of mine whom I met in high school, the rest have fallen off my radar.

      Maybe, the second couple was putting up a front so that they looked ‘better’ but in the end, there was trouble brewing.

      Reply

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