Dear Dr. Romance: I Lost Everything
Dear Dr. Romance,
I read your article on “Age Differences in Dating” and thought you might be interested in a clinical case. I was married to a younger man for twenty years.
He had been in a very unhappy marriage for twenty years and had three children. I had no intention of remarrying. Dating turned into a physical relationship. He was the exact opposite of my ex-husband and I was surprised that we could talk for hours without getting bored, we were interested in the same things, we liked the same music, books, etc. Difference in our physical appearances since I looked ten years younger and he looked much older, with premature gray hair.
However, when he asked me to marry him, I insisted that we should live together because I couldn’t imagine this lasting forever. I have to admit that the first few years I was secretly waiting for my other shoe to drop. He was serious and conservative, I was fun and free-spirited. He once told a friend of ours that I was the funniest and most exciting woman he was. he had met and never knew what to expect from me next.
We worked together to build a life and I helped him climb the corporate ladder to become Vice President. As he became more successful, he insisted that I quit my job so I could travel with him on business trips. It was the first time in my life that I didn’t have to work. I was delighted to finally be just a stay at home mom. We travel everywhere. Australia, Hong Kong, London, Paris … places I never dreamed I would see. On our thirteenth wedding anniversary, we were on vacation in Hawaii and everyone thought we were just married. We never had a serious disagreement, we did everything together and I felt safe because he took such good care of me. I finally felt confident that the other shoe would never fall. I trusted and believed in him … in us.
Then one day, shortly before our twentieth anniversary, he came into the house and said that he was in love with someone else and that he wanted a divorce. He moved in with her that night. He had been having an affair with her for two months. Later I found out that she worked for him. I was devastated, of course, I had no idea that he was unhappy in our marriage. I lived with him for 20 years and was suddenly faced with a complete stranger who told me that our age difference was more than he could handle. His friends and coworkers did not approve. After all, my oldest son was only three years younger than him. A fact that hadn’t changed in 20 years.
He was 62 years old, had not worked for twelve years and had no means of subsistence. It took me years of counseling to regain my self-esteem and self-image. I am now 75 years old and have rebuilt my life with a new environment and new friends. But there is seldom a day that I don’t think about him. I was naive in believing that age does not matter. There is a double standard in age, and I don’t think that will ever change. However, I would not change those 20 years and I will continue to keep those wonderful memories of our time. together for the rest of my life.
I’m sorry you were so disappointed. The same could have happened if she had married a man her age. I am proud of you for rebuilding your life and for not being bitter, but for enjoying your memories. None of us can predict what the future holds.