- Written by Tom Blake Tom Blake
Mature dating is a challenge. Toss in an age difference between partners, and the challenge is even greater. Take the case of Ben and Janice, for example.
He emailed me, “I am an Arkansas guy in love with a California girl. I am 77 and my lady, Janice, is 68. We are both very concerned about our age difference; therefore, your articles provide us with much insight. What do you think about the age difference?”
I asked Ben for more details.
He responded: “I was born in El Dorado, Arkansas. I left home for college, the University of Arkansas, at age 17. I was a ROTC cadet and was commissioned in the Air Force shortly after graduation. I am a retired Air Force colonel.
“I was a widower and living in Southern California, when one day I stopped at a Starbucks in Anaheim Hills. I was sitting there with a cappuccino and Janice walked in, and that changed my life forever.
“She ordered a coffee and turned around, and I spoke to her. After an hour of conversation, I asked her to meet for dinner the next Saturday. We had three dinner dates in May 2016, before I left to visit my daughters in Virginia and Arkansas.
“I returned to California on the first of August, and we have been together ever since. Janice is the love of my life.
“We are talking and planning a life together. We have agreed that we will set the marriage date and place on July 15, my 78th birthday. We are living in California now but will be moving to my new home in Hot Springs Village, Arkansas, in the fall.
“Janice is still working and considering retirement this September/October when we marry.”
Tom’s response: My feeling is Ben, at 77, and Janice, at 68, should not worry about the age difference.
He most likely will pass away first—maybe not—but so what? Why not enjoy these years together? He has found the love of his life; they should enjoy the relationship every minute of every day.
An issue bigger than the age difference is the change of lifestyle, primarily for Janice. Will she be happy not working? Will she be happy living in Arkansas? Has Janice visited Arkansas yet?
Also, since they plan to marry, they both need to agree regarding all legal matters. I suggest both consult attorneys, so both sides are equally represented. The agreement must be in writing.
The biggest issue that can cause difficulty with couples is financial, especially if there are children and grandchildren in the mix. The nine-year age difference, in this case, is a non-issue.
If two people love each other and have a wide age difference (even much, much wider than Ben and Janice), the relationship can still work nicely—if they honestly discuss and address the age-difference issues, particularly regarding children, financial issues, potential health problems, and legal issues.
Communication in all relationships is critical, and with these two, particularly so.
I asked my newsletter readers for their opinions about Ben and Janice. Here is what four of them said:
Marta, Montreal: “To each his own. Just don’t grow a ratty, gray ponytail and date an 18-year-old—then you look stupid!”
Terry Lee, financial advisor: “Regarding financials, lots and lots of problems (arise) with everybody when financials are not discussed and written down—and yes, for sure, each meet with his or her own financial person.”
Robin, police department administrator: “It has more to do with maturity level in each party. Age shouldn’t have much to do with the dating equation, unless you have one person underage, by law standards.”
Mary Lou, bar exam tutor: “It is very important to get independent legal advice, and get a prenup in writing. That will ease the minds of the children and make for a much less stressful life; plus, they will both be protected in the event things go south.”
Mature dating is difficult enough. Forget the age difference and enjoy each other.
For dating information, previous articles, or to sign up for Tom’s complimentary, weekly e-newsletter, go to www.findingloveafter50.com.