When I met my husband, I was just 21 years old. He was 32. We’re approaching our tenth wedding anniversary and have three fantastic kids, but looking back, that seems nuts. When I was 21, most of my friends were going out to clubs or bars and working on college degrees. But I had been working a full-time job for over three years and was completely financially independent from my parents. So I guess it makes sense that I would be attracted to someone who was living the same lifestyle.
We met at work, and I quickly moved into his house (like, within weeks). Yup, it sounds crazy. We decided to sell his house in Massachusetts and move to North Carolina and build a house together. Yes, that’s right, I moved halfway down the coast with my then boyfriend, who was a divorcee, whom I had only known for eight months. (If my daughter pulls something like this, I will probably have a heart attack.) Why, oh why, would I do that? I’ve certainly made plenty of mistakes in my life, however, this man was NOT one of them. I knew he treated me like gold, and I knew I could barely relate to my girlfriends at 21, let alone a guy my age.
But now, 12 years since we started dating, I can’t help but wonder… is our age difference something other people notice? After all, only 5 percent of U.S. couples are in marriages where the husband is more than 10 years older than the wife. I hardly ever think of our age difference of 11 years. It usually only comes up when there is a pop culture reference, and we laugh about it. But seriously, does our age-gap relationship define us? No, I don’t think it does — now. However, it absolutely was on my mind constantly when we first met — especially when I met his friends and his family. I also know it was definitely a concern for my parents, who wanted to make sure their daughter was not being taken advantage of.
I remember thinking at the beginning of our relationship (when my mom was freaking out), “Everyone needs to chill. I know who I picked to be with and why. It’s just Jeff, and he is amazing.” I am so grateful I listened to my 21-year-old heart and gut and started dating the “old guy.” It was the absolutely the best decision of my life.
I know there may be a time down the line when our decade-plus age gap could lead to heartache for me. However, we have a whole wonderful life to live together now, and I refuse to spend a minute of my time on the pointless emotion of worry. He is truly my soulmate — who cares if he is old?