What’s Age Got To Do With It?

“It’s just a number” “Age doesn’t matter” “You’re only as young as you feel”

You hear comments like this all the time.

But when it comes to two people in a romantic relationship, apparently age does matter. Specifically the difference in ages between the two people in the relationship. According to a recent study by Emory University in Atlanta, the wider the age gap in partners, the lower their chances are of relationship success. They polled 3000 married and recently divorced couples and found that a one year discrepancy in a couple’s ages makes them 3% more likely to divorce when compared to their same-aged counterparts. A five-year age gap makes them 18% more likely to split up. A ten-year difference makes them 39% more likely and when the gap is over ten years, the odds of divorce are huge! Uh-oh…In my latest contemporary romance Second Guessing, songwriter Jill is fourteen years older than boyband singer turned solo artist Ben. Despite the sizzling hot chemistry between them, did I set their romance up for failure? In my ‘happy ever after’ view, I pictured them together forever.

What about in real life? My oldest friend was married to a man thirteen years younger than her. Note that the marriage is in the past tense. According to her, age was not a factor in their breakup, but when you really start to think about it, issues like whether or not to have children, how to balance and manage careers and figuring out finances would seem to be even more challenging when there is a wide gap in age. A 30 year old might not be in a hurry to start a family or a retirement fund, but what about their 45 year old partner? Our needs and priorities change over time. Is it reasonable to assume that we’ll be in sync with our partner if we are in truly different stages in our lives?

Emory University didn’t indicate if same sex couples were included in the study or if the majority of the couples with the wide gap tended to be of the older man/younger woman variety. Society appears to continue to have a double standard when it comes to a difference in age between romantic partners. It seems perfectly acceptable for an older man to date and marry younger women, but the reverse? Not so much. Otherwise the term ‘cougar’ wouldn’t exist. I mean what do you call a man who dates younger women, besides ‘lucky’ that is?

In my wild twenties, I dated a few men significantly older than me but married a man born just 3 ½ years before me. It’s been 35 years, so I’m thinking that we’ve beaten the odds. How about you? Do you think a gap is an issue or not? Would love to hear your comments. The best responses will win a free kindle copy of Second Guessing.

What Would I Do if I Wasn’t a Writer?

I became a writer relatively late in life. Although I always knew that I had at least one book in me that would need to be written at some point, it wasn’t until five or six years ago that I got serious about writing. It was a story that I had been thinking about for years. A family trip to Sedona, AZ led me to ponder what a perfect place it would be for anyone looking for a do-over, a second chance at a happy ever after. I finally decided that I would sit down and put it on paper. Once I got into it, JEEP TOUR just about wrote itself. Since then, I have written three more books: Guessing at Normal exposed my life-long fascination with rock stars, Driving on the Left, a sequel of sorts to JEEP TOUR, allowed me to explore the all important mother-daughter dynamic while vacationing in Ireland, and most recently, Second Guessing. This time I was able to combine my two favorite topics: rock stars and mother-daughter relationships into a ‘second chance’ contemporary romance. Next up is a possible foray into historical fiction. I am clearly hooked. This ‘writing thing’ isn’t going away anytime soon.

Since I began my writing career, I have spent countless hours writing, editing, publishing and marketing my works. As a college professor, I have summers off and depending on my course load each semester, frequently have a few extra hours each day to devote to my literary career. It’s become a huge part of who I am.

I recently got to thinking…how would I spend my time if it weren’t for writing? What would I do? I decided to ask my friends and family and here are some of their suggestions.

1) Get in Shape

Ouch, this one hurt, but it was the number one suggestion overall. I actually think I’m in pretty good shape, but if I’m being honest, I have to admit that if I dedicated even a portion of the time I spend on my writing to physical fitness, I would probably live longer and feel better. Hours spent slumped over my MacBook while slugging coffee isn’t the healthiest of pursuits, I will grant you that. I will have to look into getting one of those standing desks or a treadmill with a large work surface. Or I can walk to the post office to mail books to contest winners and then jog back home. Okay, that’s a definite maybe.

2) Travel

Hmmm… this suggestion has some merit. I do enjoy traveling but since writing is very portable (all I need is my MacBook, a notebook and a pen) I can’t honestly say that I turn down opportunities to travel very often, at least not because of writing. So, no to travel in lieu of writing. I can do both.

3) Learn to Cook

Again, ouch! I can cook and I’m pretty good at it, but unless I’m preparing a holiday meal or throwing a dinner party, most of the food I make is pretty uninspired. But if I cooked more, wouldn’t I eat more and therefore defeat my efforts for getting into shape? No, I predict more bowls of cereal in my future.

4) Volunteer

Do more for others? Give of my time, talents and treasure? Well, I teach at a community college and advise and mentor countless students each year. It’s my job, but shouldn’t that count for something? I also donate to various charities, participate in book drives and am putting together a free event this spring for aspiring writers… Okay, I get it. Seek out more volunteer opportunities.

5) Relax

This was actually a combination of suggestions that I spend more time with my friends and family, hang out, sleep in, shop, read, watch movies, go for coffee, etc. But seriously? I already do all of those things quite a bit, except maybe sleep in. I’m way too wired for that, perhaps because I spend so much time going out for coffee. But I’ll commit to more quality time with my loved ones. Be careful of what you wish for!!

So in conclusion, I appreciate the feedback and I plan to take some of these suggestions to heart. Next time you see me, I’ll no doubt be walking briskly to the post office and picking up trash along the way, while monitoring my heart rate and chatting on my phone, catching up with loved ones. But seriously? I really enjoy the time I spend writing. I have made new friends and connected with old ones and I have learned so much about my craft and myself. I wake up raring to go and eager to see what each new day brings.

And isn’t that what it’s all about anyway?

#writerlife  #roanepublishing