I am writing these comments as a result of people constantly questioning me in this area of age difference in the choice of a life partner, especially when the man is far older than the lady. In a smaller number of cases, the woman is quite older than the man, but instances of the woman being older than the man are less common because most women would reject a husband who is “too young for them.” In some cultures and traditions, young girls are deliberately given to older men with the notion of the men being old and wealthy enough to care for them and be of financial and material blessings to wife and the family of the lady.
But, times have changed, and we must operate by principles and values, and not just by desires, feelings, and circumstances. It is a question of correct balance and building of mutuality in all marital and family affairs, and not one-sided selfish gains and personal interests in a self-serving relationship.
Going straight to the point, I will personally NOT recommend a man to marry a woman who is more than 5 years older than him. I will also NOT recommend a woman to marry a man who is more than 10 years older than her. BUT, please, before you start screaming at me to support your opposition with successful examples of wide age differences that will shoot down my entire humble opinion, I need to make you understand that IT IS A MATTER OF PERSONAL CHOICE. Therefore no one is forcing anyone to become restricted to these suggested age cautionary measures.
When people are reasonably old but still single, a number of people decide to enjoy a single independent life for as long as the can cope with, or get satisfied with their initial goals to achieve specific things before marrying. Such people later look for younger people who have “strength” in all aspects to marry, in order to become comfortable, satisfied, and blessed. This is usually not the best thing to do, but the number of them is usually small in the population. Submission to one another, and especially to the needs of a spouse becomes a huge hurdle for such people, because of possible self-centeredness, and the struggle to bond to another person and build real reciprocal love plus mutuality.
It is not uncommon to find that “older single people” have children out of wedlock, been deceived or abandoned by someone in a relationship before, experienced deep disappointment or abuse in the past, gone through marital separation or divorce, have a particular issue or problem that hinders love relationships or puts off interested persons for a romantic relationship, or have a character flaw that repels prospective partners etc.
You are free to go ahead with your decisions and choices for a far younger or far older person IF only you have done the following:
1) Critically examined all the available facts known to you, through every means, especially asking your new lady or gentleman all the necessary questions, and critically listening to all the answers given. We are often scared or unwilling to ask sensitive questions (especially when the person really appeals to us) because we are afraid that we might lose him or her, “for our world to come to an end!!”
2) You have carefully considered the intended and unintended consequences of your choice.
3) Consulted the right people and best sources of counsel and information.
4) Done any necessary medical and other forms of important tests, and especially discussed reproduction issues (pregnancy and childbirth issues), in order to prepare properly for the unexpected --- just in case …..
5) Explored THE PERSON’S BACKGROUND, possible hidden habits or motives, all past relationships, sexuality, and lifestyle, plus any past marriage (including adequate information on the reasons for divorce etc.).
6) Examined the matter of any children being brought into the marriage, and plans for the future training and welfare of the children.
7) Discussed and received complete information on educational background, current work that yields income (especially the man), career or profession, finances (including savings and investments or business dealings), accommodation, and property.
8) Gathered enough knowledge about his or her religion and its importance for compatibility and mutual worship of God.
9) Talked about the vision, ambitions, and goals in life, plus future plans for changes and improvement in the various aspects of life.
10) Transparency in all declarations, along with frank and honest discussions on real love, commitment, and acceptance of each other for the kind of marital bond necessary for a lasting and fruitful marriage.
11) Discussed any other factors and facts that pertain or relate to the particular person, and your particular situation, especially understanding of each other, concessions, sacrifices, and adjustments.
IF after all these (plus any necessary additions) you test your decision with scripture, PRAY to the Lord sincerely, and BECOME FULLY CONVINCED that you can deal effectively with each issue and be able to wisely handle one other through the different times and seasons ahead of you, and firmly believe that you can finally obtain a successful marriage and family life as you trust God together, then you may go ahead and marry.
BUT you must fully know that you will be required to take full responsibility for your choices in life.
REASONS TO CONSIDER
For the sake of space, and also considering the usual cases I come across, please let me focus on the situation where the man is far older than the woman, which will also give you most of the ideas I would equally enumerate for an older woman marrying a younger man.
My Major Reasons For Wisdom And Extra Caution If A Woman Plans To Marry A Man Far Older (More Than 10 Years) Than the Lady Are:
1) The young lady (as well as the man) will have too many differences to adjust to (way of thinking, talking, preferences, body responses, choices, lifestyle etc.).
2) Strong tendency for the man to treat the young lady as a “small school girl”, and the lady treating the man as “sugar daddy”.
3) Strong tendency for the man to disregard and put down the suggestions and opinions of the “small” lady; and for the lady to think that “the old man” knows better all the time, and will then habitually shut up or burst out immaturely when she is frustrated.
4) The man will find it harder to respect the lady as a wise and mature wife who fits him.
5) The man will be tempted to be more controlling and dominating, and too independent.
6) The woman is likely to always think that the man is old-fashioned and controlling, even when he is not doing so, or is even trying not to be that way.
7) There could be romance, affection, and sex problems --- erectile dysfunction or temporary impotence will come too early for the woman’s liking, and the man will not be able to sexually fulfil the sexual needs of the lady. It could be the other way round too, whereby the woman will become “too dry” for good sex and romance.
8) Old age diseases and weaknesses could set in too early when the woman would not be prepared to deal with them.
9) The woman will be strong and vibrant, while the man will be sluggish and too mature and robust for young-age recreation and fun.
10) When the man is quite old, the children will be too young to handle effectively and will task the energies of the lady, since the man will not have the required enthusiasm and energy to spend with the children around.
11) The man will not be strong enough, and not contemporary enough to play with the children in accordance with 21st-century trends and standards.
12) Physically, some older men look unattractive and too old to be presented alongside a young beautiful lady in public, and this could reduce self-esteem and hinder the excitement of acceptance and public appearances.
13) The tendency is for motives to be insincere or bad because it is most likely for any young lady to marry a far older man because of money, property, some other special benefit or out of deception or desperation. The older man could also marry a far younger girl to use her to serve him, work for him, dodge real commitment and input of advice by a lady, be able to control her easily, pride himself by parading her to others as his beautiful trophy, and especially satisfy his sexual lust.
14) An older spouse could have pregnancy and childbirth problems. An older woman especially would not be able to have any high numbers of children expected by a young husband. In fact, some even have the problem of having any more children at all.
15) Children brought into the marriage could hinder the peace, love, necessary attention, progress, and equal care in the home, if constant attention, serious adjustments, commitment to duty, hard work, sacrifices, prayers of faith, and fear of God do not constantly guide them to blend the children and parents into one family system properly for fruitfulness. Competition in the home can be a huge problem.
16) All these factors can breed marital unfaithfulness, selfishness, mistrust, and a weak marriage bond.
Yes, we know that with God all things are possible, but if God himself knows all these possible problems, then can He lead us into what he knows will give us unnecessary problems, and will not enable us to be productive and serve Him to the best of our abilities?
Then we have to seriously seek God’s face for His approval before making such a move to put a far older man and very young girl (or vice versa) together in a permanent bond of marriage. God has already given us COMMON SENSE to use along with guidance in His word and prayer, for wise decisions and choices that ultimately glorifies Him.
BUT, the final decision depends on the two people, and what their God directs them to do. They will ultimately reap the fruits of the seeds they sow and are finally responsible to God to whom they will give an account one day.
They should let God speak clearly to them. Hebrews 1:1-2 tells us that God has spoken to all of us through Christ, so they will not need any seer or prophet to tell them what to do finally. They are the people going to marry and face all the intended and unintended consequences. An advisor or a counsellor is not the final decision-maker. We can only help them and lay the facts before them to critically observe; and caution them to kill the flesh, subdue the emotions, control the infatuation, let their brains actively face the truth prayerfully, and know what they are going in for. But, know that your success or failure is not for you alone; it finally affects all of us.
We are strongly advised by God to ask Him for wisdom (what to do) when we are at the crossroads of making tough decisions and choices (James 1:5-8). God promises to instruct and teach us what to do, and then constantly watch over us while we are doing His will to please Him and obtain results that will make us fruitful and happy (Psalm 32:8-11).
By Rev. Dr. Samuel Kisseadoo.
Founder and President, Fruitful Ministries International Incorporated (An Evangelistic and Teaching Christian Organization)
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