Thursday, February 5, 2015

May/December Relationships: Our Choice, Family Relationships, & Public Scrutiny

Hi everyone!

This post is part two of my two-part series about May/December relationships, which is what my relationship with Patrick is defined as. To recap, a May/December relationship is one where the age gap between the two parties is quite significant. "May" refers to the younger of the two, who is in the "spring" of their life, and "December" refers to the older one, being that they are in the "winter" of their life. My last post was about how Patrick and I met. This post will cover the following topics: what made us decide that this was the right choice for us, how our families and friends took the information, and how our day-to-day lives go and the scrutiny we sometimes face.

Shall we begin?

1. What made us decide that this was the right choice for us

For me and Patrick, there was never a choice of any kind. We knew that our relationship would face scrutiny and backlash from a great number of people, but above all else, it was something that we were willing to face together so that we could be just that: together.

There are a number of things that make our relationship work. First of all, his daughter is a grown woman. She is exactly 360 days younger than I am, and she does not need raising by any means. In fact, for the most part, she is on her own and fully supports herself. Our outcome would be very different if she had been even a year younger or older than she is in comparison to me: had she been younger, she probably would have needed more emotional support from her father and he would have needed to play a much bigger role in her life, which could have put a strain on my relationship with him. On the flipside, had she been older, she would have been my age, and no one wants their dad to marry someone who is younger than them, even if only by a few days.

Secondly, Patrick did not jump into a relationship lightly, especially not one as fragile as ours would be. He had convinced himself that he would never marry again, and to find someone that he was willing to marry and start over with was a complete shock to him. It was a chance that he did not pass up but also weighed very carefully in the grand scheme of things. Similarly, I spent a long time considering what the outcome of our relationship would be. I knew that I would be in a relationship with a man who was very close in age to my own parents, I knew that we would face challenges because of our age difference, and I knew taking our relationship to the next level meant leaving behind everyone and everything that I knew and loved to move to a strange state with strange people. But for both of us, it meant the chance of a lifetime to be with the person that we feel complete with. We both made a very calculated decision and decided that the pros far outweighed the cons, and to be together was the most important thing to either of us.

2. How our families and friends took the information

Let us first start with Patrick's family. Other than his daughter, his sister and her husband, and his two nieces, Patrick has no other close family members. I am extremely lucky that Patrick's daughter is an open minded person, and I can never thank her enough for the grace that she has exhibited in regards to our relationship. I know if I put myself in her shoes, I would not take it well, and her acceptance of us, as well as her friendship towards me, is more than I could have ever dreamed of. In addition, having seen Patrick so unhappy through much of his life because of his past relationships (and then because of his being alone), Patrick's sister and nieces were all extremely gracious about our relationship, only wanting him to be happy. His sister, Renee, is an absolute joy, and although I have yet to meet the four of them (who live two states away), we talk frequently and care for each other very much. Other than Patrick's biological family, he has his "Rocky Family" (our fellow cast members with The Bawdy Caste) and with as much as I post about them, it is clear that I love them and they love me in return!

My family was a different story. I don't want to point fingers or blame anyone because much of my family does read my blog and all of the rough edges have finally been smoothed out, but I will say that one side of the family took the information much more easily than the other side. I am happy to report they all now accept my life is my life, I will always do what I want to do regardless of popular opinion. They accept and care for Patrick and I and are very supportive of our relationship now that they know that it wasn't a whimsical romance destined for failure. The relationship between me and my father was already rocky for other reasons, and so his initial negative reaction to my relationship with Patrick caused me to cut off all contact with him for over a year. However, had I made any attempt to contact him or had allowed him any contact with me, I would have found that he had quickly gotten over it and wanted only for me to be happy. The good news is that we have repaired our relationship and he is probably more happy for me about my marriage than anyone else I know.

Many of my friends were much more reluctant to accept my relationship, however this was more due to the fact that I would be moving out of state and out of their daily lives. My two best girl friends, Erin and Kerry, had differing opinions at first. Erin was very skeptical because of my past relationships but has come around very nicely and her only negative opinion is that she misses me very much, however Kerry was supportive from the very beginning and is still one of only three people who has met Patrick in person. Kerry is like our personal cheer leading team!

It is safe to say that neither Patrick nor I lost any friends or family members due to our relationship, however it could have gone either way and we are very, very fortunate. I credit this mostly to the fact that Patrick has very few family members and that my family has always seemed to accept (at least eventually) that I never do what I'm told and I have no problem with cutting personal ties if it means it will get me where I need to be, which, thankfully, I haven't had to do! I'm so lucky to have family and friends who realize that their relationship with me is not worth losing, and for this I am grateful.

3. How our day-to-day lives go and the scrutiny we sometimes face

As far as relationships go, Patrick and I are a very "normal" couple. We do basic couple things: we go out on adventures to new towns, go on vacations, watch shows or films, go out to dinner or eat in at home, hang out with friends, host dinner parties or game nights: you name it.  In fact, we both forget that there is an age difference a majority of the time. He and I are very similar in our personality maturity level: I am very mature for my age (I mean, really, who else besides a 40 year old house wife would get excited about cleaning the house or buying a new pair of slippers?) and he is like a younger man trapped in an older man's body. We meet in the middle, probably somewhere around age 30-35, and we work extraordinarily well together. I'm usually the one who is logical, whereas he is much more whimsical, which is just one example of how we balance each other out.

Now that we are married, I actually get a lot more "personal" questions about our relationship/marriage, which I am always willing to answer as long as they aren't "assumption" questions (such as how much money he makes, as though the only way a younger woman could possibly want to be with an older man is because he has money, which is untrue, especially in our case. Trust me, I have gotten similar questions, and they are offensive and ridiculous). I understand curiosity, however this is still my private life and I don't always appreciate the invasive questioning.

What really gets my goat is when he and I are out somewhere and someone makes a casual comment about me being his daughter. I get really heated about it even though I know it is an ignorant comment, and I politely correct these people and tell them that he is my husband because I know that it will embarrass them to know they've made such an offensive mistake. The way I prevent these types of comments is usually to make sure we are holding hands or walking close together or touching in some way, something that would not point to a "father-daughter" relationship. If we're going out for more than a trip to the store (i.e. anything that will keep us out of the house and in the same space for a longer period of time or anything that requires us to have social interaction with someone, such as a server or a store associate), I always do my makeup. I have always had a very young face and I will probably still be carded into my late twenties/early thirties, and the right makeup can make Patrick and I look more evenly matched (or is it less mismatched?). Either way, my makeup is like my safety net, and even after two years of being together, I find it hard to break this habit and stop caring about what people think.

There has only been one instance where someone has outright been rude to me about our relationship, and it was more that I was moving across the country to be with Patrick. Right before I left Michigan for California, a customer at Family Video and I got onto the topic of my last day at work coming up very soon, and we got into a conversation about why I was leaving. I was very open and honest with her, and she attacked me with her words, calling me stupid and telling me in many words that it would never work out and giving her reasons why she knew it would be a failure and a mistake. She later called the store to apologize, however I do still have a friend who works at the store who updates that customer about how famously my life with my new husband is going every chance she gets, and that is better than any apology I'll ever receive :)

Bonus material: 
4. The hardest thing about being in a May/December relationship

I would have to say that the hardest thing about being in a May/December relationship is the way people just assume things. For some reason unbeknownst to me, people cannot fathom a world where a man and a woman love one another regardless of their age difference. After all, age really is just a number-- I know people older than Patrick who don't even deserve to be allowed to purchase alcohol or drive a vehicle.

There are some added assumptions about our relationship because we met online, so here are some of the things that people assume about us:

1. They met on a dating website.

No, we did not. We met on Tumblr, which is a blogging website. Some people may meet on dating websites or other ways via the internet, and that is fine, but to assume it about a May/December relationship is to imply that we were looking for an age-gap relationship, which brings me to my next "assumption."
* To read about how we met, please refer to my previous post, "May/December Relationships: How Patrick & I Met"

2. Because they met online, I bet they were looking for an age-gap relationship.

No-- actually, we were just as shocked about our relationship as everyone else was. Additionally, neither of us was looking for a romantic relationship and ours was strictly platonic at first; we were just friends, but even in the beginning the attraction was there.

3. Because of their age gap AND the fact that they met online, I bet they met on a Sugar Baby/ Sugar Daddy website!

NO. Neither Patrick nor I has ever been to a site like those, nor is our relationship like that. We have a regular, basic relationship. He makes dinner, I do the laundry, we force our cat to cuddle with us. I do not have an "allowance" for buying myself lavish things with his money in exchange for my companionship. I am not showered with gifts in exchange for affection. Both of us are in this for the long haul as husband and wife, for better or for worse.

4. I bet (s)he tricked him/her by being vague about their ages/ relationships/ families.

No, we were very open with one another from the very beginning.

I have also found that the age difference is quite sexist. Allow me to explain:

Scenario 1:
A young woman you know has recently entered a new relationship, which she decides to tell you over lunch. What are your first questions about her significant other? They will most likely go in this order: What is his name? What does he do? How old is he? etc. 

Now let's compare that with another scenario.

Scenario 2:
A young man you know has recently entered a new relationship, which he decides to tell you over lunch. What are your first questions about his significant other? They will most likely go in this order: What is her name? What does she look like? Where did you meet? etc. Notice that age is not a question at first.

This is not true for all cases, but the root of the issue is this: People care more about the age of the woman in a relationship is than they do about the man (assuming a heterosexual relationship). It does not matter if the woman is older than him or younger than him. The woman is older? There can be speculation about her sexual intentions. The woman is younger? She is a gold digger. The man is older? Sometimes there can be speculation about his sexual intentions, but that is more from the female's friends and family; the man's friends will high five him (I cannot tell you the number of times a male Patrick's age has taken him aside and asked him "Where can I get one of those?!"). The man is younger? Again, high five because he scored with an older woman. Do you see where I am going here? Both the older and younger person in the relationship have an equally hard time with outside opinions, however in either situation the male usually has an easier time of it.
*I am in a heterosexual relationship and therefore I cannot speak for homosexual May/December relationships.

Those are really all of the points that I can think of, and I think I have covered all of my intended topics pretty clearly! Again, if any of you have any questions, please feel free to private message me on Facebook. I hope that this post and its sister post were helpful and educational for those who were curious about our relationship, and I hope that moving forward the world will start to be more open minded in all relationship aspects, including May/December relationships. :)

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.