Beliefnet
Q: I am a single parent with two children. I am 48 years old. My boyfriend is 27. We met about a year ago and, given our age difference, tried to analyze, dispel, and rationalize away the bizarre attraction, but love prevailed. My family and friends have responded with tremendous rejection and anger. But the relationship between my children and my boyfriend is as caring and positive as ours. I often feel I am on a roller-coaster as to what I should do. My boyfriend has proposed. My heart says YES!--jump up and down, shout for joy, this is my soulmate, etc. But I have not given him an answer, nor have I told anyone. My parents are both in their 70s, and I'm worried because my father recently had a heart attack and bypass surgery. Since my children are also involved, the guilt trip and rejection have placed a tremendous burden on me. What are your suggestions?
--SonoSmart

A: There is no absolute reason why a relationship with this age difference cannot be very successful. It is interesting that if your genders were reversed and this were occurring in Hollywood, age would not even be an issue. Many leading men not only star in films with female characters half their age as love interests, but they also marry much younger women in real life. So this problem is primarily cultural and gender-based.

Some might argue that even if the age difference between the two of you is not a problem now, it will eventually become one, but the fact is that no one is in a position to know what the future holds for anyone. Some people contract debilitating illnesses; some people are vital well into their later years; there can be an unexpected death, and countless other unknowns. So to base your decision on what might happen in the future is not, in our opinion, reasonable, practical, or spiritual.

The question of your family's and friends' reactions should be taken into consideration, depending on how important these people's feelings are to you--especially compared with the feelings of your children. We have seen families adjust to an age difference in time, and this could also occur in your situation. But for now, their feelings are opposed to those of your children, who, from what you write, would probably be in favor of this marriage. If you think this man would be a good father to them, then perhaps this should weigh more heavily than the opinion of family and friends.

As to your father's heart condition, there are ways to consider his, as well as your own, happiness. We did not tell either of our families when we got married because we thought it would be too jolting to them. Instead, we quietly got married on our own, took the time needed to prepare them for the idea, and then held a second service when our families were more comfortable. We are not suggesting that you follow our example, but we want you to realize that there are many options, and you can choose one that would be kind to your father.

Since there are so many unknowns in your situation, it would be best to make only those decisions based on what you know to be true today. God is a very present help in times of difficulty, and present help is really the only help there is, since it never stops being now. So our advice would be to do today what your peace and stillness counsel. In the quiet of your heart, without regard to what might or might not happen, what do you feel most comfortable doing today? If you will take each step in gentleness and peace, gentleness and peace will be part of the outcome.

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