Women is...: Younger Woman, Older Man

Younger Woman, Older Man

Younger women have always mixed with older men. In previous generations, it made sense: men married as soon as they established a career and could provide for a family while women were encouraged to marry quite young. Today, it's not unusual to see a divorced man�� especially if he's got a successful career�� with a younger woman (think Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones).

But Stephanie, 30, and her husband Chris, 41, fit few stereotypes. They met seven years ago in college when Stephanie was finishing her degree and Chris was studying as a mature student. After spending their first night together, Stephanie told her roommate, "I've got this really old guy up in my bedroom, and he's really cute." For her, the age difference was a "cool cachet" and novelty that none of her friends had experienced. Stephanie found she appreciated Chris's maturity in the relationship: he called when he said he would and didn't play head games. In fact, Chris was so serious about their partnership that he proposed a few months after they met.

Now, after six years of marriage, Stephanie says they still feel similar in age and stage of life. They share the same career success, have similar interests, and both agree�� and always have�� that they don't want children.

The 11 years that separate Stephanie and Chris's ages have caused few real problems, but they faced challenges in the beginning. At first, their families were concerned about the couple's age difference and the fast pace of their relationship. When Stephanie first introduced Chris formally to her parents, the couple was already living together. Her mother took her aside and asked how old Chris was. "Is he really?" her mom asked when told his age. "Well, we don't have to tell your father about that."

The initial resistance soon melted away. In fact, Stephanie has found a real friend in Chris's youngest sister. The two share a similar cultural past, having grown up in the '80s while Chris can't stand it when Stephanie gets out her old "retro" records. "He has different cultural signifiers," she says.

Stephanie wonders how things will change as they age, especially when she talks to a 60-year-old co-worker who is married to a 70-year-old man whose health is failing. Today, that possibility seems very far away, especially since Chris looks like he's in his 30s. "The day he starts looking younger than me, I'll have to leave him," she jokes.