Studies paint a bleak picture of relationships with a big age difference. How to make yours work ...
Does the age gap between you and your lover you up at night (and we don't mean in a good way)?
It's hard to escape all the relationship studies and polls that say your May-December romance is doomed, including the latest research that seems to indicate that the larger the age gap between two people who are married, the higher the chance that they will get divorced.
Unfortunately, some findings of social science research are misunderstood, taken out of context, or don't disclose the small sample size. nonetheless. Even when social science research is solid, the takeaway can be scary. If you and your partner are five years (or more) apart in age, these study findings are probably unsettling to you. We understand, and as a couple with a 16 year age difference, we'd like to offer you this advice.
Find the courage to write your own happy relationship story. No matter what studies and polls say, other people's experiences don't determine your (or our) experience. When you allow a study finding to seep into your habitual thoughts and perceptions of yourself, your partner, and what you believe is possible for your future, you're setting yourself up for emotional pain.
Anytime you read something or listen to someone else, and let that be what constrains your own experience, you're letting your story be written for you instead of intentionally writing it for yourself.
Any sort of difference, whether it's age, religion, ethnicity, education or anything else, can be a place for misunderstanding and disconnection for a couple—if they allow it to be. All human beings are unique individuals who see things from unique perspectives. When we add to that a different background or culture because of when or where we were born, this can make it more challenging to forge connections.
What's great is that differences can also bring to a relationship a special something that you wouldn't have if you both were very alike. This mix can actually add more passion to your relationship if you stay conscious and awake. If you pretend that the differences aren't there, you're likely to run into tension and conflict.
Keep these 4 tips in mind to bypass age gap troubles in your relationship:
1. Remember that your story is still in process. We cannot stress enough the importance of watching your thoughts, especially when it comes to your relationship and the differences between you and your partner. Remind yourself that nothing is a 100% guaranteed. The way you think about, talk to and act with your partner is what will guide the two of you to happiness (or disappointment and breakup).
2. Adopt an attitude of respect. Being respectful of your partner may seem like a no-brainer suggestion, but when differences arise that don't make sense to you or that feel like a challenge to the way you "do" things, it gets more complicated. Make it your intention to always be kind and respectful, even when you two don't agree.
3. Stay curious. Curiosity can be your most powerful tool when dealing with a difference that's upsetting or stressful. Keep telling yourself that trying to understand isn't "giving in," and keep asking questions so that you truly can get a clear and accurate sense of where your partner is coming from. A great phrase we use in our own relationship is, "Please tell me more."
4. Nurture what's unique about you. Know that creating a happy and connected relationship when there's an age gap isn't about giving up your opinions, values or what's most important to you. There's room for you to be authentically who you are and to pursue your interests and personal passions, while also contributing to an amazing connection with your partner.
Find reasons to celebrate the wonderful blend of differences and similarities (and everything else in between) in your relationship. We have ideas and advice for how to keep your relationship healthy and thriving now and into the future and we share them with you in our free ebook: Passionate Heart~Lasting Love. Click here for instant access.