My husband and I have a ten year age gap. When I was just a newborn ball of goo, he was a full-fledged boy of the ’80s, riding his bike around his suburban neighborhood listening to Journey on his Walkman—fully adorned with a serious mullet. (Well, serious in the front at least.)
Fast forward twenty-one years. He was a grown man, I was a grown woman. (Well, like most 21-year-old ding dongs, I thought I was grown.) We met, we fell in love, I re-routed my life, and boom—suddenly I was flung headfirst into adulthood with someone who had a lot of crucial years of adulthood ahead of me.
When you are young and in love, there are a lot of things that don’t seem to matter at first. One of those things, is a ten year age gap. Once that initial googly-eyed phase wears off, you start to notice that the smart, funny guy “who doesn’t act like he’s that old,” is actually very set in his ways, bordering on crotchety, and his brand of “funny” is more along the lines of “Dad joke” funny than cutting-edge comedy. When we play the game “This Song Reminds Me Of….” his memory usually includes basements at college parties full of alcohol and questionable life choices, while mine involves middle school dances, sleepovers, and braces. At a time in life when my friends and I were finishing college, starting first “real” jobs, and staying out way too late with our newly acquired legal drinking age status, he was making his second big career change, his peers were getting divorced, and he had a hard time staying out past 10:30.
As we started our relationship together, our positions along the path of life were awkwardly bumping into each other, like two people trying to put away dishes and cook a Thanksgiving dinner at the same time in a kitchen the size of a coat closet. It was awkward, at times infuriating, annoying, sometimes amusing, and just plain difficult. It wasn’t until we both acknowledged the challenges this age difference presented, instead of pretending there weren’t any, that we were able to make our relationship function. Sometimes this meant we needed to get out of each other’s way—we didn’t always both need to be in the kitchen at the same time to make our lives together work.
As I am writing this, we have been together for sixteen years and married for nearly thirteen. Our time spent together exceeds the ten year age difference between us. Together, we have made big moves, purchased and sold multiple homes, navigated career changes, and dealt with life-changing disasters. We’ve blended our friend groups, accumulated debt and paid (some of) it off, lost loved ones, and most significantly, we’ve brought three incredible children into the world together. Now that he’s an actual dad, I can giggle at his dad jokes, while still rolling my eyes at some of his other, more exasperating, old man behaviors. (If he looks out the blinds to glare at those pesky teenagers bumping their music across the street one more time, I might strangle him.) And while I am still the young and fun one in the relationship, sixteen years of maturity have allowed me to slow my roll a little…just enough to allow the old man to keep up.