I am 29-years old and recently met a man and started dating him. He is a very nice guy, I like him a lot and I started meeting him often. He looked young, but I realised later that he is 40-years old. Do you think it is advisable to go ahead and get married to a person 11-years older than me? Will there be problems later on? I am all confused and don’t know what to do.
Answered by Dr Melanie C. Schlatter, PhD, Consultant Health Psychologist, HEALTH PSYCHOLOGY UAE
Many issues can arise in a marriage irrespective of age, and whilst I don’t believe that an 11 year age difference is a huge concern, what I do believe is that certain factors need to be in place before you commit. Indeed, if you are already attracted to this man, this has the potential to sway you easily (ie- into making an emotional decision that you may later regret), and you may have more of a tendency to overlook things now that will be sticking points later on.
Here are some points to check
1. Step back and try to be objective about all the things you liked about him before you knew his age, and about what values are connecting the two of you currently. Be honest with yourself. Are these aligned with everything that is important to you as a female considering marriage, at this age and stage of your life, and given your own personal background?
2. You would benefit from similar belief systems, or at least openness to/agreement upon the systems of each other where possible (ie., around family ideals, culture, religion, health, finances, future goals regarding how and where you might live etc) as this is often the glue to navigate through any future difficulties.
3. At 40, he is lucky enough to look young, and one would assume (hope!) that he has enough ‘been there, done that’ life experience to be mature and stable across several life domains, which could be a great asset to you, compared to marrying a younger person perhaps ‘finding their feet’. However, it’s possible that he might also be too fixed in his ways, and/or that you have not had enough life experience yet to match him intellectually or emotionally. Would that be a problem for him in the future, in terms of how you might live and connect emotionally?
4. Talk to him openly and honestly about your expectations, and about how he sees the future with you (and vice versa). Who will take what roles? Who would be responsible for what? Don’t make assumptions.
5. Seek out the advice of friends and family members around you. Get them to meet him based fairly on who he is as a person and potential husband (preferably without disclosing his age)— these people know you well, so they might show you where you could be overlooking or underestimating things too.
6. Some practitioners offer pre-marital counselling, so you could explore this in order to make the best decision for you both. But do not be in a rush. Marriage is not a step to be taken lightly, and as they say, it’s easy to marry – but it’s far harder to get a divorce. All the very best!
If you have questions that you would like answered by a mental health professional in the UAE, please write in to email@example.com. Also, please let us know if you'd rather stay anonymous.
Disclaimer: This blog is a conversation and is not an alternative for treatment. The recommendations and suggestions offered by our panel of doctors are their own and Gulf News will not take any responsibility for the advice they provide.