Friday, 28 May 2010

The Age Gap

How big is too big an age gap?

Back in my parents' day, 10 years was a decent age gap, an acceptable amount of years between two spouses. 10 years...that's a whole decade. Some might even say that's a difference of a someone born from the 70s and someone born from the 80s. Different ideals, different outlook on life, different idea of where we'll be in 50 years, and where they would like to be in 10.

But it worked. My parents have a 8 year age gap between them, and they've managed over 25 years of marriage, so surely it can't be that big a deal right? In fact, one of their extremely close friends have TWENTY years between the husband and spouse. T W E N T Y. And Alhamdulillah, their marriage is one of the most stable I've seen. I can only assume this works so extremely well, because they each have a different perspective to bring to the table. Their difference in age provides a oft-lacking balance to their relationship. And being aware of the age gap, and therefore the potential sources of difference in opinion, I can only assume it leads to a better understanding of compromise and empathy with the other person.

Nowadays, when I've been on the marriage circuit, even 5 years seems like a large period of time. Maybe it's because I'm still relatively young, but I just can't even imagine marrying someone who's more than five years older than I am.

So why ask the question? Why is it relevant?

Because of the current state of affairs. The differences between the generations.

We have this issue with the older generation (and by older, I mean mothers and father/aunties and uncles), who have no problem with a large age gap between a guy and a girl. In fact, some parents actively encourage a couple of years inbetween the couple to ensure that the guy is 'mature and stable' before he gets married. This does have a practical basis, don't get me wrong, guys are more financially stable as they get older, and they do mature slower than girls, so having an older guy often makes sense. The problem that I'm currently trying to get my head around is

a) how 'stable' does a guy have to be before he's ready to get married?
b) how mature does a guy need to be before it's deemed acceptable for him to get married?

Maturity is not dependent on age. At all. I've met guys who are 30 who still act like teenagers (not that this is a bad thing btw). And stability does not necessarily come with age either. I've also met guys who have been financially independent since they were 16, and have wise with their money, and are self-sufficient in their early twenties.  So does age really matter at all?

I guess the reason I bring this whole issue up is because of a guy. A guy I've never met, and probably never will meet.


Is-za Jelass said...

Salam wa alaykum sister.

Such thought provoking questions but when you say "A guy I've never met, and probably never will meet"...I hope you don't mean that you will not find a guy. Please dont say that inshallah inshallah all will come in its due time! :)

My mother acutally told me one day to not see a guy older than 4 years than me. I have no idea why, my mother's advice is another story so when I was in the marriage loop (i was 20) I turned down all guys older than 24, even if they were 25 I said no, wouldnt even take the conversation beyond hello. But my husband was 8 years older than me (he didnt go away). Now when I see him and our relationship I just can not fathom that he is older I literally view us as on the same plane wallah. One of my friends, I think her mom got married when she was 13 or 15, I think the father was maybe 15 or 20 years older. They are still together in a stable relationship.

I think age honestly is one of the least things to worry about when it comes to actual married life. I think it comes down to how we perceive ourselves and our spouse. If a guy is older, and looks down on his wife for being younger well thats not going help much.

And as for maturity. I think maturity should be understood in the context of ego and selfishness. When we are young we want what we want, believe what we want, we have an inherent naive selfishness and often times emotionally undeveloped because of this. I think when a person learns how to give and sacrifice and question themselves this is reaching a point of "maturity" rather then the mere idea that they are serious or joke less.

Also when it comes to stability...what do you think? What would you hope for your spouse inshallah to have for you to want to marry him. Im curious! Ive heard different opinions. One sister I know adamently says she will not talk to a guy unlesss he is finished with his studies and has a home and can support her. I have another sister who lives with her in laws and works like her husband to save for another place. I myself didnt move in with my husband until 5 months after the wedding night because i was 1) overseas and 2) we couldnt yet afford our own apartment, the money he saved went to supporting me and the mahr so we had to wait. I can't wait to hear what you think inshallah.

I love your blog so far, keep it up!

Effervescent said...

Salaam sis. That was an interesting post.
My parents have a 13 year age gap.! I think that is rather odd...and... Things have never been smooth! Theyr still together after like 25yrs alhamdulillah but I cant even tell you what my mum has been through (with none of her family here). My mum and dad, even i can tell, theyr rather different, want different things in life, but my mums given up on trying to get my dad to understand. I dont blame her, none of us can bring him to terms but anyways..
Satbility and maturity. The guys is usually older than the girl because guys tend to mature slower, for myself I would put a 4 year age gap MAXIMUM.

I seem to think that if I find a religious guy then everything will be hunky dorey... He'll be mature like he'll know his rights and his role before marriage so he wouldnt go into it until he knows he can fulfill them. But I dont know if 'religious' guys are like that. I mean I dont want him to be serious he needs to have a bit of imaturity in him.

The age gap topic is a rather complex one, thats why I'm not saying much, lol cos uve got me thinking about lots of things now and its a rather big mess in my head :P

But at the end of the day, if your compatible and if the love is there, the age gap just seems to disappear and you feel like a part of each other, with no difference, weather its 2 years or 20 years. As you know, from the examples you gave, age is not very important, its the type of people they are.