Posted by: Margo Z
Topic: Generation Gap
This just in from Experience Central (to explore another aspect of this week’s topic): coupling with someone significantly younger (or older) than you triggers all kinds of fascinating dynamics.
In grad school, at age 21, I dated a freshman who’d just turned 18. Three years difference, big whoop, right? Until the night a popular cover of “Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds” came on the radio. I’ll never forget the lad’s keen admiration as he exclaimed, “Man, that Elton John, he is SUCH a phenomenal songwriter!”
Such was my first real life encounter with the Generation Gap.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
Flash forward to my current marriage to Josh, the greatest guy ever. Who just happens to be a decade younger. A slightly bigger difference, but by the time you’re in your thirties and forties it shouldn’t matter much, right?
Except that a 10 year age gap tends to put you in different stages of your career life. In our case, Josh is in the “building” phase of his profession whereas I am theoretically gliding into my peak years.
There’s bound to be an earning difference… right, Demi?
Like maybe… I, the wife, make a lot more than he does. As in, A LOT-a lot.
So yeah -- the topic resonates.
And we knew about the disparity going in.
And we got married anyway (not even “in spite of” it).
And yeah, there was a prenup. And no, hammering it out with the lawyers wasn’t nearly as romantic as tasting wedding cake samples.
But it wasn’t the end of us, and if we ever did split I can’t fathom it being over “who’s been in the work world longer” or “who chose the more lucrative career path twenty years ago.” Because those are the kinds of realities you have to factor in. In our situation, it’s not a simple matter of “We both work our butts off but she makes more, dammit.” You need to step back and acknowledge the reasons for it. Or else yeah, there probably would be resentment, the kind that would have done us in long ago. Say, on our tenth date when Josh was still courting me like a proper gentleman and paying for pretty much everything on dates – but he didn’t feel used and I didn’t feel guilty, because we were so compatible and shared the same values that to us, it felt like the natural order of things to date in the traditional model, despite the income disparity.
And sure, now that we’re married, I absolutely shoulder my fair share of our combined expenses. Sometimes more, sometimes less. That's how it is when you commingle your lives.
Remember my first post? About the importance of choosing your mate wisely? Finding someone who is emotionally mature, someone whom you respect, someone who is secure enough with their own accomplishments that yours don’t bring out the beast in them?
I believe the core problem is, too many people don’t hold out for the right person. They’re just spoilin’ for a struggle. They get impatient, they make mistakes, they start to settle for less than they deserve, and over time that gets compounded until it’s a pattern, a repeated lament, the kind that usually starts with, “Why is it I always seem to get involved with the same kind of loser over and over?”
‘Cause in my mind, that’s really what it comes down to: the person you pick. And if you’re compatible enough on a deep down, fundamental level, the fact that one of you is a SHRIMP and can’t reach the favorite coffee mug that the pituitary FREAK put on the top shelf (ahem) – stuff like that just won’t become an issue. And neither will something equally arbitrary, like the relative size of your paychecks at any given point in time. That’s fluid and subject to change anyway, especially in 2020 when I’m eyeballing retirement and he’s just heading into those heady peak years I mentioned. Statistically speaking, if my earned income is “zero” then, no matter what he makes his income will be infinitely greater than mine! Woo hoo! Something for us both to look forward to.