Love conquers all is a common, but perennial maxim. Love is indeed a warrior who wins over the most difficult of barriers that sometimes besiege many lovers. Such is this warrior’s power that it can also unite people from two different generations and make them fall in love. Love is, quite simply, timeless and it proves this to be true by forming the age-gap relationships also knowns as May December relationships.
Nowhere are instances of the May December romance more on display than amongst cinema’s brightest stars. George and Amal Clooney have an age difference of seven years, Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively were born 11 years apart, and so were Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jonas. These May December couples are a testament to how ageless love can be. It’s not just that fleeting, flapping birdie called infatuation, you know?
But some studies say not all May December romances are rosy. A study by United States-based data scientist Randy Olson has stated that there is a significant relationship between the age gap and increased divorces.
“Only being 1-5 years away from your partner in age is nothing to worry about, but if you’re old enough to be your partner’s parent, then your marriage might be in trouble,” the study says.
Such findings could be nail-biting for those who are considering a May December romance or are in one already. So, for solid relationship advice and to help us navigate the question of age in love I have brought in a guide – Geertarsh Kaur, a life coach and the founder of ‘The Skill School’ which specializes in building stronger relationships.
What Is A May December Romance?
“Age is an issue of mind over matter,” Mark Twain has famously said. “If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.” This adage has stood the test of time for lovers who have loved despite the vast valley of time between them. And, that is how a May December romance or a May December marriage is – timeless.
The only conventional definition of a May December romance is that it is defined by the age difference between two partners. But if we were to have a romantic, Wordsworthian definition, we could say that a May December romance is an age-old convention like the seasons of the earth themselves. Thus, in a May December relationship, the spring-y May represents youth and the wintery December connotes wisdom.
Do May December Relationships Work?
“They do,” says Geetarsh, “But it depends entirely on the partners. May December couples must have a certain level of understanding regardless of which partner in the relationship is older. It is all about communication.”
Considering the fast-paced and busy lifestyles in the 21st century, it is all the more necessary to work on romance, because it is easy to be complacent when you are pressed for time. Eventually, the relationship, once enamored in love, could wither away. In a May December relationship especially, lack of initiative could result in you feeling the difference of age between the both of you. In such cases do ask yourself whether you want to deal with the ghosts of a dead romance at the end of a hectic day.
“When complacency kills a relationship, one partner starts feeling the brunt of it more than the other. In such a scenario, the idea is to identify what is going wrong in the relationship and discuss it with the partner,” Geetarsh said.
How To Keep A May December Romance Alive?
There are plenty of ways to keep the love going. Let me list down five things you could do to keep the May December romance or May December marriage fresh, always:
1. Find mutual interests
Geetarsh suggests that partners in a May December relationship must have a mutual interest and make the time to indulge in it. “A couple must spend time with those interests. It could be as simple as going on a drive or watching movies slouched together on the couch with a bowl of popcorn in between – do it,” Geetarsh said.
Don’t be either too picky or too bossy while choosing mutual interests – make it a mission, treat it like a to-do list. Once your ideas coalesce, you could end up discovering the unexplored commonalities between the both of you. Then, take this idea for a walk because, again as our relationship coach said, laziness will kill it. If this idea of doing mutual things is not executed, its presence might linger, making the partners feel the burden of the “something is pending” thought. Sounds like the beginning of problems that you could have avoided!
Related reading: How Important Are Common Interests In Relationships?
2. Walk down memory lane
When did you see each other for the very first time? Do you remember the feeling? If you are the younger partner, did you wonder how old your partner was when you saw them the for first time? If you are the older one, did the butterflies in your stomach almost stop you from approaching someone way younger than you? Time to reminisce about your feelings. A walk down memory lane for a May December couple is considered healthy.
Steer yourself into remembering your 50 first dates (see what I did there?). When you recall them, tell your own behind-the-scenes story behind them. For instance, 31-year-old Ryan had never told his 48-year-old partner Dan that he had spent more than $1,000 to get his outfit right for their first date.
“Dan laughed it off. But when I told him that I wanted to be well-dressed because I saw how splendidly elegant and well-styled he looked in his pictures on social media, he was genuinely shocked! He asked if people my age look up their dates online? I said it was quite common for people of my generation to do that. That particular conversation with Dan has made us more willing to understand the nuances of each other’s generation. It is a healthy curiosity,” Ryan said.
3. This tip is for the older partner: Let the younger partner be
Pearls of wisdom are meant to be collected and not to be thrown into every conversation. In a May December relationship, depositing these pearls in discussions as life lessons might hinder the experiences of the younger partner.
“The experiences of a person in a May December relationship may clash. It is important for the older person in the relationship to not take away from the experience from the younger partner’s life,” Geetarsh said. In short, let them be, let them fall even – just be there to catch them.”
Sienna, a shop-floor manager, said she had to watch her partner, Matthew – who is a decade younger to her – suffer through a set of difficulties at his corporate workplace. “On many occasions I felt like giving him advice since I had at least seven more years of office experience than him, but I refrained from doing so. Moreover, my advice may not have necessarily fit his workplace dynamic,” she said, adding, “It was something he had to experience on his own. Of course, I was always around for very rational support. Eventually, it was great seeing him figure out that part of his life himself.”
Related reading: Age Is No Barrier When You Fall In Love
4. Devise a safe word to stop arguments
An age gap between two partners may create differences of opinion especially on several touchy topics like politics or religion. While it is prudent to deal with these issues right at the beginning of the relationship, one cannot predict how tempers can flair during such discussions. Well, if discussions on sensitive issues are frequently turning sour at home, a May December couple can think of devising a safe word for arguments after consulting with a counselor.
A safe word is a way to draw an instant boundary in an argument. But it is a contract that both partners will have to agree to. This word could be anything – a name of a fruit or a country. For instance, 28-year-old Kevin and 42-year-old Sarah use the word “Switzerland” to stop any arguments they feel are getting out of hand.
“We came up with this word as Switzerland is known to be a neutral country. Its foreign policy does not allow it to be involved in armed or political conflicts between other states. It made sense to use because Kevin is a researcher with a focus on political science, and I am a journalist,” Sarah said.
5. Five-day sex challenge
Yes, this is a pop-culture thing to generate intimacy among all couples, including May December couples. It is employed when the dry spell lasts longer than usual or when sex takes a backseat, becomes a dusty thought in long-running May December marriages.
The five-day sex challenge involves planning – decide what you want to do on each day and how you want to experiment. But the focus should be on intimacy and not just sex. Don’t do it because you have decided to do it. Attempt to generate the lost passion. If you complete this challenge, you will realize that you – a May December couple – are actually, sincerely capable of working on things that you may have lost touch with. See how much sex can benefit you?
Related reading: Can You Please Help Us Improve Our Sex Lives?
Does The Age Gap Really Matter?
Geetarsh says no. “Age is simply a number,” she states. The question about the age gap is woven around insecurities like the perception of the society or unaccepting families that have often asked the question, “Do May December relationships work?”
There are several notions of the ideal gap in a relationship or a marriage, but even then, studies differ. Some say that an age gap of one to seven years between couples is ideal, whereas others say that an age gap of five to seven years would be preferable. But then there are plenty of successful relationships with a large age gap that serve as a testament to the fact that love is indeed timeless and that a May December relationship or a May December marriage has a bigger chance of succeeding. “The level of understanding between the partners of a May December relationship must match for it to work,” said Geetarsh.
At the end of the day, making a May December romance work is also about maturity, which is the desirable tool to have to battle all the challenges that a May December couple may confront.
But, a word of caution. Before gleefully jumping into the boat of May December love, one must discuss matters with the partner that form the basic foundation of a long-lasting relationship. Do you and your partner have similar ideas for the future? This is something you need to know. It involves talking about growth in career, the desire for children and building a family, and finances. An honest conversation can solve the simplest as well as the largest of problems.
Last but not the least, how far are you willing to compromise? In the beginning, love may make you feel like you are ready to go to any length. But, take a step back from the romantic picture and assess yourself. How much have you compromised in life, in general situations? If you are a fairly adaptable person, you may not have problems. But a ‘my-way or the highway’ attitude may not be an ideal stance to take in this relationship, or any relationship for that matter.
It is time to speculate, but with hope and optimism. If you are going to be involved with someone with a significant age gap, think of it as a union of two different milestones in this journey we called life. If singletons with apprehensions regarding dating someone older have been reading this, just imbibe what I said right at the beginning – love is ageless.
There is no ‘right’ number. There could be no age gap between two partners or it could be 15 years…who’s to say? If it works, it works – age gap notwithstanding. Also, the couples must ask to whom is this age difference acceptable to? If the age gap is comfortable for the couple, then there is no problem.
Yes, they do. All relationships need nurturing. Age is one aspect among others in a relationship, like personal choices, routine, families and job profile. Like these factors, age needs to be taken care of like all the things that make a relationship.
Yes, they do. Anything lasts if couples decide to make it last.