Women is...: Older Woman, Younger Man

Older Woman, Younger Man

On the flip side of the May-September scenario, some women find an ideal mate who is years younger than themselves. It's rare among our parents and grandparents, but it happens more often now that women have careers outside the home. Perhaps this is because financial independence has lessened women's sense of urgency to marry and be "taken care of" by a man who is more established.

Seven years ago, Cheri was 38 when she visited Japan and lived with a Japanese family. The youngest son, Yuto, 25 years old at the time, was then recovering from a car accident and was on disability leave from his job. The two took long bike rides, visited museums together, and eventually fell in love during her six-month visit. When Cheri returned to the U.S., Yuto joined her a few months later. Soon after he joined her, they got married and had a daughter.

Despite huge cultural and age differences, Cheri finds that her and Yuto's relationship fits as comfortably as an old shoe. "It's only personality; age doesn't play a role at all." Their strong friendship and ability to be flexible keeps the relationship strong. While it's obvious at times that Cheri has more experience and knowledge, Yuto often uses that information to make better decisions. The dynamic has convinced Cheri that this age difference has real benefits. "If we were the same age, it'd be more of a tug of war. We'd be in competition," she says.

The 13-year age difference between Yuto and Cheri sometimes gets attention, but rarely sparks serious conflict. While her career in television earns her a lot more than Yuto's job in the travel industry, he doesn't resent it. Now that Cheri only works part-time and stays home to take care of their three-year-old, he's the main breadwinner.

Sometimes the relationship strikes others as odd. In Japan, such an age difference is very rare, so Yuto shaves a few years off Cheri's age when asked by Japanese people. The two also have to shrug off looks and probing questions because Yuto looks young for his age and is the same height as Cheri.

Still, for Cheri, the age difference feels invisible. With a vegetarian diet and healthy lifestyle, she plans on keeping it that way into her senior years. "We'll be the same. I don't think there's going to be much difference as we age," she says.