Marrying A Much Older Man Made Me A Better Person

Billy Joel and Katie Lee

One woman explains what she's learned from her husband, who is 25 years older than she.

Billy Joel and his wife of nearly five years Katie Lee are splitting up. A "friend" of the couple told the New York Daily News that the age difference of 33 years drove the couple apart ( 15 Common Divorce Mistakes). I doubt it. Maybe, like so many couples that end up divorced, they just weren't meant to be. You never hear anyone say "Dick and Jane are the same age—that must have had something to do with their breakup." I call BS on blaming the age difference when it comes to divorce. Though, admittedly, I'm biased. Older men and younger women?

My husband of almost six years is 25 years my senior. Our age difference might influence our choice in music but in no way does it affect our arguments, personal goals, admiration for one another or our love. A marriage is a relationship built on love and I can't imagine sharing my life (I'm 28) with anyone other than my 53-year-old husband—who has been told on numerous occasions he looks like Billy Joel. Go figure.

In celebration of large age-gap relationships, here are five ways my romance with a much older man has made me a better person:

1. I listen more. My husband Tom has had years of crazy life before me (like when he was eight and his house blew up; his time in a band; the tragic death of his four-year-old daughter in a fire), so I've learned to become a dynamite listener. Knowing about his life experiences—positive and negative—has been helpful in my own decision-making.

2. I'm more open-minded. Yes, relationships like mine are more common than the reverse, but that doesn't make it any less taboo. When Tom and I first met, I was only 18—I certainly didn't want my peers judging me, thinking my being with a partner older than some of their parents was "weird" or "disgusting;" or by older women who thought he was only with me for the sex or that I was one manifestation aspect of a mid-life crisis. The old saying "treat others as you would like to be treated" really comes into play here.

3. He's been schooled in sex.  Self-consciousness aside, our relationship slowly progressed from sideward glances and intellectual conversation over lunch to long kisses and passionate embraces during afternoons spent in bed. Unlike with younger guys, the experience with Tom was more about the two of us than just him and his desires. Maybe like a fine wine, men too, improve with age. With him, I felt like I went from virgin to vixen in record time.Discuss: Sex Tips that work

4. He helps me relish today. Tom has taught me to appreciate the moment I'm in and not live for the future—as we young people will do, particularly in today's society of acquisition and titles. He reminds me not to wish my life away because, in the blink of an eye, I'll be his age.Read: Age Differences: I'm 22, He's 35. Can This Work?

5. I've learned to follow my heart. Despite being told our age difference would tear us apart, Tom and I have both learned that those 25 years have brought us closer together than anyone could have imaged—including us. We knew our love was real and didn't let the naysayers influence our romance. Understanding that you have to live your life for yourself is such an important realization, and one that many of us forget when it comes to everything from what type of career to pursue to whom we fall in love with.

This article was originally published at . Reprinted with permission from the author.