As many of you know, I base my advice on biblical principles and commandments.
So, What does the Bible say about this issue? Nothing (not directly, at least). We know that many of the Bible’s love stories involved older men and younger women (examples include Isaac and Rebekah; Ruth and Boaz). But the Bible doesn’t list any specific instructions or acceptable age differences for spouses.
Since the Bible doesn’t directly address this issue, there’s another question we can ask: what is God saying through practical wisdom?
We know “May-December” romances still happen, and we also know they can be successful. Usually it is the man/husband who is older. There are biological/psychological explanations:
*Women often mature more quickly than men.
*Financial stability, success, leadership, and maturity are qualities women tend to look for–qualities that usually develop with age.
*A woman’s beauty and fertility usually peak from her late teens through her late 20’s. Men, on the other hand, do not really have a “biological clock.”
There are exceptions–relationships in which the woman is older.
So, how can we use practical wisdom with this issue? How can you know if an older boyfriend/girlfriend is right for you? I suggest you consider the following questions.
Question #1 Are both of you able to consider marriage within a reasonable time period?
As I’ve mentioned before, dating/courtship is for those who are willing and able to consider marriage. If one of you is too young to consider marriage, this can be a big problem.
A young woman recently emailed me with questions about her relationship. She is in her mid-20’s and has begun her career. Her boyfriend is still studying in college. The age gap is not that significant (4-5 years), but they are at different life stages. Here’s the advice I gave her:
“I can’t make this decision for you, but this is my concern: you are at a good age to consider marriage, but it’s going to be a couple of years before he could even think about proposing. Continuing this relationship means two things for you: 1) Postponing marriage until he can finish his studies and find a job. 2) Hoping that he doesn’t change his mind over the next few years. This could work for you, but I want you to be aware of the risks.”
I want to again caution my young readers (high school and early college)— if you have several years of study left, please think twice about entering any serious relationship.
Question #2 Are the two of you at compatible levels of maturity?
Notice that I didn’t say “equal” level of maturity. Why? No two people are at the exact same stage of maturity (even if they are the same age). But a couple should be able to relate to each other.
Question #3 Are you attracted to him/her despite the age difference?
My book (Basta LoveLife: Making Wise Relationship Decisions) has a chapter entitled How Important is Physical Attraction? When writing this chapter, I mentioned the advice one of my mentors gives to young women: “Never marry a man you have no desire for.” Physical attraction, of course, is not the most important part of a relationship. But let’s get real—attraction is part of romance. Denying this reality is unwise.
Question #4 Are you willing to deal with the natural consequences of the age gap?
An older spouse may have health problems sooner than a spouse of the same age. An older wife may have a more difficult time bearing children than a younger one. Choosing a significantly older husband may mean you become a widow while relatively young. May-December couples may get stared at or ridiculed if their age difference is obvious. Life is uncertain, so I’m only talking about probabilities. Regardless, you should consider the practical consequences of the age gap. If you are willing to deal with them, fine.
Finally, remember this: the greater the age gap, the more carefully you’ll need to consider these questions.
I met my wife a few years after I originally wrote this post. I’m about fifteen years older than she, but it hasn’t been a hindrance in our relationship at all. I still stand by everything I’ve written in this article.
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