Integrating Compassion with the Wisdom of God’s Word


The purpose of Aunt Dara’s Christian Advice Column is to glorify God by addressing human needs with compassion and the wisdom of God’s word.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

She's Old Enough to be his Mother

Dear Aunt Dara,

My boyfriend “Jacob” and I have known each other for three years.  At first we were just friends.  I thought that he would make a good husband for some nice young woman, but I never dreamed that he would ever be romantically interested in me.  Now he wants to marry me.   I know that he loves me.  He treats me well and I couldn’t ask for a more loving man.  I love him too, and I really want to marry him.  We are members of the same church and I believe that God brought us together.  We have similar interests and get along well.  Both of us are employed and have a good income.  This would be the first marriage for both of us.  Neither of us has any children and neither of us wants children.  However, I am having some misgivings because he is 27 years old and I am 49.  I am concerned about what others will think, and I don’t know if such a marriage can last.  What do you think about a woman marrying a man who is young enough to be her son, and do you think we have a chance of making it as a married couple?

Not his Mama

Dear Not his Mama,

Congratulations on establishing a loving relationship with a man who wants you to be his wife.  Hebrews 13:4 says, “Marriage is honorable among all,” and Proverbs 18:22 says, “He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the LORD.”  You are wise to not rush into marriage without examining possible problems. 

I am not aware of any scriptures that specifically address problems related to age differences in married couples.  However, with any marriage in which there is a large age difference, there are three possible problem areas.  You have already mentioned one of them:  What will people think?  Anytime there is a large age difference with a married couple, there will be critics.  This is especially true when the wife is the older one.  In general, society seems to be more understanding of marriages in which the husband is old enough to be the wife’s father, but tends to be disapproving of the reverse situation.  The older wife can be criticized for “robbing the cradle” and the younger husband can be accused of wanting a mother instead of a wife.  You didn’t mention what your family and friends think of your relationship, but even if they seem to be okay with it, don’t be surprised if they voice objections or disapproval about your marriage.  Unfortunately, this may be a life-long issue as future friends and associates will voice negative opinions.  Do both of you have enough ego strength to not be affected by other people’s opinions and negative statements?

Secondly, the issue of roles can be a problem.  You are from two different generations and have different maturity levels.  You have experienced things that he has not.  You have lived through historical events that he has only read about.  Because of that, there is a natural inclination for the older person to think and/or act more like a parent than a spouse, and for the younger to take on a role more similar to that as a child.  This is especially difficult for the couple when the younger man takes on the role as the “head” of the older wife (Ephesians 5:23).  For this marriage to work, the younger husband must be mature enough to be a man, and the older wife must be wise enough to let him.

Thirdly, while he will be getting older, you will be getting old.  He will be exposed to younger women and consequently he most likely will be tempted by them.  Is he committed enough to God and to you that he will honor his vow of faithfulness when faced with temptation (Proverbs 5:18-20)?  Are you secure enough in your relationship and in your own self-esteem to not become suspicious and jealous of younger women?

Finally, there is another problem unique to the couple in which the wife is the older one—the issue of children.  You said that neither you nor he has or wants children.  However, one cannot predict the future and the urge to procreate is a strong one.  The young man who does not want children now may change his mind as he ages, and his options to have a biological child will be greatly limited by having an older wife.  Are both of you absolutely sure that he will never want children?  If either of you might want a child in the future, would you be satisfied with adoption?

Bottom line:  You and Jacob need to have a long, heart-to-heart discussion about these issues before taking marriage vows.  You asked whether you would have a chance of making it as a married couple and if such a marriage can last.  Yes, absolutely, but only if both of you are aware of the potential problems, are emotionally and spiritually mature, and are thoroughly committed to God and to each other.

Best wishes and God bless,
Aunt Dara