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 | By Steve and Bridget Patton

They say: We love each other and want to get married but we are almost 10 years apart in age

It doesn’t matter to either of us but we’re both getting pushback from family and friends that it’s not a good fit.


Let’s look first at your age difference and then at the pushback you’re getting from your family and friends.

First, any significant difference between a couple – whether it be their respective religious backgrounds, their education, or their life experiences and values – can introduce a risk factor into their relationship. What might seem to be minor at the beginning of a marriage can in time become bothersome or even destructive. Is a 10-year age difference in this category?

Studies do not show a 10-year age gap, in and of itself, to be a risk factor. Sometimes, though, it can be related to other, more important differences. For instance, if the older one has significantly more life experience and emotional maturity this could lead to an imbalance of power. Also consider – as your friends and family are probably already considering – what your comparative health pictures are going to look like, say, 20 years from now.

But keep in mind that all of this is abstract speculation. Your particular reality could be that the two of you indeed have the same general level of life experience and maturity. Or even that the older one in fact is in better health, exercises regularly and has a longer life expectancy than the younger one. In that case, the older, not the younger, could end up feeling resentment at the eventual declining health of his/her spouse. The point: In any of these cases, the age difference itself would be insignificant.

So, rather than looking at your age difference alone, honestly ask yourselves if there are other related differences that could be problematic.

Now, what about the pushback from your family and friends? Certainly the decision about whether to marry needs to be yours. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t a place for their loving, thoughtful input. Indeed, they could be seeing things that neither of you is willing or able to see. So try this.

Tell them you don’t see how your age difference itself is problematic, but you’d like to know why they think it is. But more to what really matters, sincerely invite them to tell you anything they might have observed in your relationship that concerns them. It might hurt to hear it, but “faithful are the wounds of a friend.” (Prv 27:6)

Steve and Bridget Patton hold master’s degrees in theology and counseling and serve as family life ministers in the Diocese of Sacramento.

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