Age gaps in marriage and common challenges they face - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

Age gaps in marriage and common challenges they face

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When there is a huge age gap in a couple's age who is getting married there may be all sorts of talk. Below are five of the most common problems noted, and what you can do as a couple to thwart the talk and encourage your family and friends to be supportive, rather than people who are trying to unravel your relationship.

A group of experts from recently came up with 5 common types of challenges and how you can most easily resolve them to save the marriage. These suggestions may save your marriage.

1. Families' and friends' reactions. This area may be the most important because everyone needs the support of their family. What you want to achieve as the couple is to show your family and friends why you are good for one another. You can achieve this most easily by:

A. Don't force your new partner on your family, but do not let them exclude your new partner either.

B. Be gentle and realize your partner my want to be connected with his or her parents even if they aren't accepting of you.

C. Making family visits shorter usually helps most with the adjustment of your new partner.

2. Possible children. Timing of children is important, but perhaps more so when one of the partners is much older. Careful consideration should be the focus, and also the social issues around that, especially when there has been a recent divorce or death with one of the partner's exes. Issues from the past are one of the biggest challenges with large age gap couples. There are options to consider:

A. Adoption is always possible, as is foster parenting, or volunteering at a children's home if one of you wants and needs to nurture children and the other partner doesn't.

B. Counseling may be helpful in all of these challenges, especially in cases where there is a need to expand your view of a situation.

3. Blending Families. Children are the number one cause of second marriages failing. It is difficult to blend families no matter what the age of the couple is. Children may fear a loved parent is being replaced by someone new and if that someone new is too young or too old, it may make it more challenging. There are things you can do to help ease this transition:

A. Never force your new spouse on your child.

B. Continue having time alone with your child talking and engaging in fun activities.

C. Talk to your child about the fact that their other parent will never be replaced and that no matter what happens you will always love your child.

4. Illness doesn't just happen with "large age gap couples," but when we see one partner much older it makes illness more possible. In truth we should address it with all couples because illness and death has no age limit. It is wise to talk about possible illness prior to marriage, and what you would do as their spouse to help support your partner.

A. Couples who face illness as a team do much better than couples who must face it alone. Make sure you are supportive of your partner's condition, and allow them to do what they can do to still be active in your relationship.

B. Make sure you have a support system built in place that includes others. When you have a chronically ill partner, or a partner facing major health issues, you will be able to support them more effectively if you have support.

C. Talking about end of life issues is appropriate and should be done with your partner no matter what their age.

5. Sexual problems. Sex problems are common at any age, but more so if one of the partners is much older. Once again, communicating and talking about the issue in a non-threatening way is best. Marriage changes the dynamics and sometimes emotional changes can have a deleterious effect on sexual health. These options may help you maneuver with more ease through sexual challenges.

A. Don't sweep the problem under the rug. Address it by talking softly and listening with your partner.

B. Go seek medical help together. A urologist who specializes in sexual health will be able to help you and guide you to a treatment team.

C. Sexual counselors can help you build and restore intimacy and sexual understanding. Many times sexual problems are emotional at the core.

D. Continue as much as possible to touch, hug and be supportive of one another.

Couples with large age gaps do face challenges, but they can also benefit from the patience that comes with age and the enthusiasm of youth. If they work together and become a team they can be better than they would have been alone.

– Mary Jo Rapini

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