Monday, April 12, 2010

Should We Oppose Age Gaps in Marriages?

ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, it is only logical that we should desire to see married, some single person of 50 to some single person of around the same age. And the same would be said of those around 18.

When a person talks about marrying a person of a different generation, some people can get very upset (particularly if the older is male). The conversation then flows into some irrational logic. Yet even though the presentation is illogical, there are several arguments that present some thoughts for consideration.

It is argued that there is a better ability to communicate on such things as music, technology, history and life in general, if people have lived around the same length of time. It is suggested (in line with this) that the older person would be disadvantaged by an inferior conversation.

It is also presented that the younger person will have less life experience, which can create conflicts of direction in areas such as loans etc. Young people haven't had the experience of having to wait years to pay off a debt (for example), so would be more inclined to get into debt.

On the other side it is argued that the young person is healthier and therefore may have to look after their spouse when sick (which would be more often the case). They also have the disadvantage of losing their spouse when still relatively young. Additionally there is more chance that both would be there for the children when growing up if the couple were young.

These two sides of the argument can be viewed as subtractive or additive. That is that on the one side we could argue that the disadvantage to one is an advantage to the other and visa versa. Thus making it that both are advantaged by the relationship in ways. Or we could view them as additive problems, thus viewing that the relationship is doubly disadvantaged - the latter negative view seems to be the most common trend.

This desire to make it a double disadvantage (a one sided viewpoint) makes me tend to feel that there are other deep-seated reasons for people's negativity. Perhaps jealousy, by men, if the older is a male. Perhaps fear by women of losing their husbands to a younger woman where married, or fear of not being able to compete where divorced, widowed or still single.

But looking at the ideas; the argument in regard the children is a bit weak in that if the person were able to produce children still, they would usually be able to be there for their upbringing. That they may not be young enough to run around with their children could be used in regard couples having children at 40. Or we could say that disabled people therefore shouldn't have children, using such logic. Love and time is the thing children really need.

The argument in regard communication has an opponent from those in successful multicultural marriages. It is true that multicultural marriages can also create problems. And it is better to marry those from the same culture, ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL. But many of these marriages thrive.

The argument of one partner passing on earlier is still relavant. But I must present in regard that idea that my wife always said that she would outlive me by at least 8 years, because she was 6 years younger and a female (females statistically outlive males). Yet she died at a young age; and I (hopefully) have many years ahead yet. So it is only a generalisation.

I would also argue that as we believe Christ's second coming and the resurrection of the righteous isn't really that far off, it is a bit of a dead arguement (no pun intended). GAs have come forward with some heavy feelings relative to the fact that this generation will be well and truly alive when Christ comes. I would second that revelation.

Yet ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL some of these arguments have a degree of merit. But all things are rarely equal.

For example, I knew a man who's parents were 26 years apart in marriage. He raved of how well they got on together. Yet I have seen many of around the same age as each other and their marriage was a failure. I have seen the same with many living together.

I know an Australian man who is married to a Malasian woman, who additionally is much younger than him. Their marriage is wonderful to see. Yet he was first married to an Australian of around the same age, and it was a disaster.

In the church there is a desire to separate Young Adults (those over 18 but too young for Single Adults) from Single Adults (those 30 and over). This has created many serious problems over the years. For example I remember one guy turning 30 who had a girlfriend of about 25. There became serious conflict in that she wasn't permitted to go to Single Adult activities and he couldn't go to Young Adult activities. Stake leaders there were adamant that was the instruction and must be obeyed regardless of any human feelings - The military would have been proud of them.

(I'd personally suggest the church take on a more flexable and sensible stance, and create a 5 year zone on either side - thus allowing couples to be up to 10 years apart, yet still able to attend activities together). Additionally we can make some Single Adult activities able to be attended by Young Sinlge Adults, of any age, where the YSA is dating a SA. Remember we are wanting members to marry members.

So what do the Scriptures say in regard marriage and age difference? Has God given any commandment in regard ages in marriage? Surely if he had some policy it would be in there.

The answer to the latter question is, "NO." God has given no limitation whatsoever. It is left to each individual to consider how they feel. But most civilizations are or have married at 13 +.

In regard difference of ages of husband and wife we have some interesting information about Abraham.

Gen 17:17 Abraham was 10 years older than Sarah. As people usually married at around 13 then, it is quite possible that he was 23 and her 13.
Gen 21:5-7 Abraham was 100 years old when Issac was born, and considered old.
Gen 18:13 Sarah laughed at the idea of her being able to have a son, because of her age (as Abraham was 100, Sarah must have been 90).
Gen 23:1 Sarah dies at 127. Thus Abraham was 137.
Gen 25:1-2 Abraham took another wife - Keturah, who bore him 6 sons.
She had to be MANY years his junior. The chances are that she was probably a virgin of about 13; as historical writings present that as the common age for marriage in Ancient Egypt (for example).

Yet even if we are too prudish to believe that, we still must remember that if Sarah laughed at having children at 90, it must have been well beyond the child bearing age. So Keturah had to have been young enough to have had at least 6 children (as 6 of her sons were named). Sensibly we would have to suppose that she couldn't have been older than 60 at maximum. That would make him 77 years older at absolute minimum.

Gen 25:6 Additionally Abraham took concubines who were young enough to have children also.

Joseph Smith married 7 young women who were too young to be in the Young Sinlge Adults program when he was well in the classification of the Single Adult's age. He, additionally, married some women who were old enough to be his mother.

So how would these stake leaders have responded to that? - Joseph, you can't date these young women or older women!

There's no good using the old "oh, but that was back then," routine. As if to suggest that somehow human beings were different in the past and had 10 arms, 5 legs and 3 heads. They were just like us.

This leads us back to our 2 presented problems with age gaps in marriage. Why did Abraham and Joseph Smith consider it alright to marry someone whom they wouldn't be married to for very long before dying? Joseph Smith received revelation yet he married some young women one year before he died.

The arguments fail to take into account the whole point of marriage. Marriage is an ETERNAL contract. When you die has little significance in it. Let's assume you have a young unmarried daughter and that 2 men come to you with the view of marrying her. One man is the same age as your daughter. The other is 3 times her age. The one who is 3 times her age, you have been inspired, will gain eternal life. The other you are unsure of in that direction. Which do you advise your daughter to marry? I can assure you that my choice would be the older one, that could take my daughter to eternal life forever.

And the thing that matters in an eternal marriage is spiritual compatability. Our priorities shouldn't be set by looks, age, educational standard, nationality, ability to sexually entertain, wealth or any other such worldly irrelevancies.

The reason we have such a priority of marrying in the temple is that it is an eternal contract. When I consider whom to marry I am interested in whether she is really ready to obey God without leaning to the ideas of the world. In conversation I'm not so interested in whether she knows this singing group or that one; but whether she has a thirst for truth. I don't care where she's been in the world, as much as I care where she is going in her spiritual pursuit. I'm not so concerned with her educational standard, more her moral standard. I'm not so concerned about her closeness to me in age, but her closeness to God.

Let's get our priorities in order.

15 comments:

Doc3Vincente said...

It all comes down to your eternal perspect and understanding of how things work. I see examples everywhere these days when a guy finds reasons not be with his wife any more because a few children later she no longer has that same glamorous figure and puts on a few pounds. Perhaps I am being too obvious when I agree and say there is bit more to a relationship than looks or age... And how much better this world would be if more of us could gain that eternal understanding/perspective. Just curious how old you are and how old you were when your wife passed?

Doug Towers said...

Doc3Vincente

There's a few reasons why I've avoided saying how old I am.

1. Whatever age you are some people then tend to see you as different if not their age.

2. People make assumptions of your perceptions built on age.

3. Older people can tend to feel you aren't as knowledgeable as them, and younger people can tend to feel you don't understand what is going on or are inflexable in thought.

I guess that, to some degree, that is an answer to your question, even if not exact.

Doc3Vincente said...

Oh I guess that answer will be sufficient. LOL... No I understand. I already have a picture in my mind of what you look like and how old you are so you probably would have ruined my picture anyways...

Anonymous said...

I agree completely. The age we are on earth has nothing to do with eternity.

Anonymous said...

You are so correct. Once we are fully grown and mature age has no bearing. But people in general don't realize this and especially LDS females who should know better. I find that non-LDS females are more open to age gaps and don't discriminate on age as much ass LDS females. I am 42 recently divorced guy with full custody of my 4 children. I thought finding a new wife and mother would be quite easy with the many available and being a great preisthood holding temple worthy good looking guy. I even look younger than I am. but seaching on LDSSingles.com and LDSplanet.com these LDS females are picky picky picky. No wonderr they are never married 30 somethings. LOL. They seem to be still holding out for their teenage fantasy or they are quite content to wait till the next life when they will find that special someone, but they don't seem to realize that there will be no marriage in the next life as Christ has said Himself. Marriage must be attained during this mortal probation to qualify for the celestial kingdom. I'm sorry to rant but this has been frustrating. I have tried to start a relationship with hundreds of never married 20 - 45 LDS females as well as divorcees with children of their own. What is up with them all!!!!

Doug Towers said...

Thanks for the input and support.

Anonymous2

I wish you well in your search. It is true that wanting a wife and finding one are two different things.

I haven't got the same problem as you. I seem to get enough marriage proposals from varying ages. From my point of view I'm waiting for the one that God says is OK, and when.

So maybe some of those females you are dealing with are looking for that inspiration too.

A problem I have is the conflict I get from some parents of females who are interested in me that I haven't even dated or made any romantic advances to. They ask me to be rude to their daughters to discourage them, and then wonder why I won't go along with it. That's a weird one to me.

Denidowi said...

Anonymous,

May I give you some LDS advice??

Don't bother yourself with 'going onto websites' to find genuine people, esp for a future wife.
Even via letters, I wrote letters while on one of my missions to a girl I had never met.
I was foolish enough to basically 'commit' [upon the recommendation also of another who was living there with her] ... Biggest mistake of my life!
You cannot truly know or properly 'meet' someone via emails.
It is the very worst medium to use for intimate relations.
Also, in very general, you will find a lot more 'wasters' on the Net than those who genuinely are 'Doers of the Word'.
The real Doers more often, are out there doing and serving. For your 4 children, you want a Doer of the Word, not mere 'Hearers' onlyLOL!
I met my 2nd wife on a 3-4 day Convention - face-to-face.
You want to see people serving others. You need to see a girl in close - with her family ... with her Parents:
How does she treat her mother?
Is she Close to her father??
You need to find that one out - because that will mostly set the pace for her respect for you and as Patriarch in your home.
Check out how she supports her father's home direction and if she has an affection for him.
... and if you can sense if she has an admiration for you personally - your standards and for the things you do and accomplish.

kh said...

Denidowi,

I agree 100% with what you said. I know of no better way to truly discover someone for whom they are than how they feel about serving and then actually witness them serving others first hand. If you can get to know the parents, earn their trust and then learn from them things about the possible eternal mate that is icing on the cake. Age is not the issue for two people to be right for each other. The scriptures state this. God does not change. I know first hand for myself.

Anonymous said...

To me this is a very easy to understand situation.

There is an ick factor to any man OR woman who enters a relationship with a member of the opposite sex who is young enough to be a son or daughter.

I don't care how old the younger happens to be.

If a person is not capable of being able to descern that ick factor, then in my opinion you are a pervert albeit a legal one.

And for the life of me, I can't imagine any reason for doing it as outweighing the difference in time and the things a person must go through in life to get there.

There is an undeniable commonality gap that defies nature in that relationship.

From the perspective of a person growing physically older but still felling very young at heart, I say be patient and let nature run it's course...Somewhere down the line, God will make us young again. But let HIM do that.

On the average, 20 years difference in age constitutes coming from a different generation.

Anything close to that is boadering on perversion. It is like a legal form of incest...Yuck!

Doug Towers said...

Anonymous

Considering that I have females that are interested in me who are aged between 16 and 60 I guess that makes me a pervert by your judgement. After all if God tells me to marry someone out of my age group I will.

Yet I have met many people who share your perspective, so don't feel alone.

kh said...

Anonymous,

I know from personal spiritual witness and experience that 20 year difference between myself and another is not figured in the eternal scheme of things. Each person and each situation is unique. God does not change. Men married women much younger than themselves for 6000 years. Just because people today might not think that situation is "normal" now does not change the fact that two people eventhough they are 20 or more years apart can have a celestial happy marriage. I know first hand they can.

Doug Towers said...

kh

To be undiplomatic I think some people tend to feel they have come through some school of hard knocks and are a privelaged group by virtue of the experience they have gained. They see age as a rank of superiority. To place someone out of this group as an equal seems to be difficult for them. I think its a form of snobbery myself. I think that is the "ick factor" that he refers to.

I think too that there is also the fact that they can tend to see them as like their children, because of the age being the same, and feel it is like them marrying their children. Once again this doesn't seem to have raised any difficulty (marrying daughters) until the fall had sufficient effect (possibly taking all of the 2400 years to Moses where it was finally banned). Doing that now creates a high risk of birth defects and therefore is illegal. Thus we are trained to see this as an icky thing.

Thanks for your thoughts.

kh said...

I understand some people might say "Why she is young enough to be your daughter." But the thing that has had the greatest impact in my life, besides the Atonement of the Savior, is the eternal perspective that the Gospel gives me. This person and I have been the best of friends prior to this earth life and I know this by divine revelation through the power of the Holy Ghost. Even her parents came to know this before she did. I hope that as more people gain the eternal perspective through the revealing power of God that the ick factor will fade away. Thanks Doug

Benji said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Doug Towers said...

Benji

No advertising. Also this one thing he got right could have been pure luck.

You also refer to a temple as his temple. A temple should be to God, and belong to him only. The fact that you refer to it as his temple shows that he has glorified himself.