Sunday, August 31, 2008

Our Book Recommendations


No book is the right book for everyone. You can tell it's the right book for you when you pick it up and can't put it down. Even in a great self-help book, you'll find parts to which you don't relate. Skip those sections. If you can't get into the book, then don't read it. We've put down many books only to find them again at a later more appropriate time. Don't feel obligated to read a book from cover to cover. Skip around if it keeps you more interested. If a book is recommended to you by three or more people, you're probably getting a cosmic shoulder tap and might want to pay attention!


Though the husband is 14 or more years older than the wife in nearly 900,000 American marriages and the number of women marrying younger men is rapidly on the rise, there isn't a single, solitary book out there addressing the May-December relationship. While we are writing our book, this website responds to the needs of age gap couples by providing tips, tools, and secrets for creating -- and sustaining --a successful romance in all seasons.


  • You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay
    Read this book when you find yourself in recurring negative patterns and want to get unstuck. This book is especially helpful for people with health problems.
  • Feel the Fear and Do it Anyway, By Susan Jeffers
    Read this when worry, anxiety, and/or a lack of self-confidence keep you from being the person you want to be.
  • The Invitation by Oriah
    Read this book when you are struggling with the ups and downs of life.
  • Family Secrets: The Path from Shame to Healing by John Bradshaw
    Read this book when you find yourself acting out with negative and/or destructive behaviors and you don't understand why.
  • Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India, and Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert
    Read this book when you are in an intense transitional period in your life.
  • The Age of Miracles: Embracing the New Middle Age by Marianne Williamson
    Read this when you are looking for understanding and peace regarding your mid-life changes.
  • The Amazing Power of Deliberate Intent: Living The Art of Allowing by Esther and Jerry Hicks
    Read this book when you want to make changes or create new ways of living.


  • Mars and Venus: Starting Over by John Gray
    Read this when you have lost a loved one through death or break-up. It is designed to help you grieve your losses and re-enter the dating world.
  • Are You The One For Me by Barbara DeAngelis
    Read this BEFORE you start the search for a mate.
  • In The Meantime by Iyanla VanSant
    Read this when you are in a transitional period and want to "find" yourself, heal your wounds, and stop repeating old patterns.
  • He's Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt, Liz Tuccillo, and Lauren Moncik
    Read this if you repeatedly pick the wrong men.


  • Men are from Mars - Women are from Venus by John Gray
    Read this when you are frustrated with your mate and want to understand how to improve your relationship.
  • The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman
    Read this when you are in ANY relationship. Even if you do not identify with Christian authors, the information in this book is simple, straightforward, and a must read for everyone.
  • After The Affair: Healing the Pain and Rebuilding Trust When a Partner Has Been Unfaithful by Janis Abrahms Spring and Michael Spring.
    Read this if you are trying to heal your relationship after an affair has occurred.
  • Hot Monogamy: Essential Steps to More Passionate Intimate Lovemaking by Pat Love
    Read this when your relationship has lost it's sexual zip. This in NOT just a "how to" manual. It will help you understand the sexual dynamics in long term monogamous partnerships.
  • All Night Long: How to Make Love to a Man over 50 by Barbara Keesling
    Read this when you and your partner are dealing with the symptoms of aging included erectile dysfunction. This is NOT just a how to manual. It provides useful information about the mechanics of a man's body and the impact of wear and tear on his sexual functioning. It also suggests many useful techniques and tricks!

Monday, August 25, 2008

Yes, Age Gaps Can be a Problem... (By Ron)

...but like any other relationship problem this too can be managed. When Gayle and I started out we didn't think too much about the age difference. 15 years when you are in your 20s and 30s don't seem like such a big deal. Of course there were lots of age related decisions we've had to make throughout our relationship and we'll talk about some of those in future blogs. This one is about the fact that aging happens.

Over the years we have managed to live life at much the same speed. As the saying goes, she kept me young. Hiking and walking (particularly in Yellowstone and Europe) are two of our favorite pastimes and they require at least a modicum of conditioning, particularly for me.

It's no secret that I celebrated my 65th birthday in December of last year. As I have aged I seldom thought much about the years that were passing. 65 wasn't a terribly significant number until I had an accident with a ladder on December 29th which resulted in the mother of sprained ankles. It has taken years and lots of abuse for my knees to get into their bad shape. It took only a few seconds for my ankle to become a significant physical liability.

So, here we are in August and my ankle is still an issue. My orthopod says the relatively slow healing process has something to do with the numbers in my birthdate field on his intake sheet. In other words, I don't heal like I did when I was in my twenties. All at once I am at risk for being unable to hike and walk long distances like I love so much.

Gayle is 15 years younger than me. Although she has her own ankle problems she is in better shape than I and we both know it. You already know the story of our recent trip to Yellowstone. We learned a great lesson on that trip. Acceptance. Yep, it's that simple. Now I don't mean I will be accepting my conditioning as is, that's not the point. The point is that our age differences are real and require more attention than I have given them in the past.

No, I don't heal as I did in my twenties and I didn't climb Mount Washburn as quickly as I have in the past. What I have to continue to remind myself is that I still have some control over these issues. With proper care and attention to my physical conditioning I can continue to be as active as I've been for all of my life - maybe just not as quickly.

There's no question that aging is a factor in any age-gap relationship. How you deal with it makes all the difference in the world in how the relationship endures. Keep in mind that it isn't only the younger person who has to learn to accept his or her partner. There is also the possibility that the older partner will have difficulty accepting the age difference. After all, I remember how much I could do when I was 50. I won't be 50 again. I'm not able to do as much at 65. That pisses me off sometimes. That's OK, too. In the final analysis it isn't always the age differences or differences in capabilities that matter. It's how they are accepted, understood and dealt with by both partners.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Let's Talk About ED (by Ron & Gayle)

Allrighty then, shall we talk about ED (as in Bob Dole and Viva Viagra - not the talking horse Mr. Ed)? Katie Couric made history having her colonoscopy filmed to help people get comfortable with discussing colons. So we’re going to plunge into the topic of erectile dysfunction (ED) right here right now. Let’s get blogging!

Gayle posted an answer to a question in a May-December forum to which she belongs. The question was about how age gapped couples were dealing with ED. The couple wanted to try other options before getting a prescription medication. Our experience and training tell us that you don’t have to have a significant age difference or be a senior citizen to encounter ED. We’ll talk more about this topic in future blogs. For now, here is the text of Gayle’s answer.

First of all, I know this can be a tough one for both of you. I’m glad you can come here for some advice. Anyone who has been there knows the stress of ED just compounds the problem. Here’s what I’ve got to share on the subject:

1. Even if you partner is under age 50, this book has some wonderful information in it…

All Night Long: How to Make Love to a Man Over 50

2. Talk to a doctor, you’ve always got to rule out “mechanical” issues.

3. Search on Yohimbine and see what you think. It’s available in places like Vitamin World and I know some urologists prescribe it for men with ED.

4. Alcohol makes it worse - not better as many people think.

5. Talking about the situation is best done OUTSIDE the bedroom, but talking about it when you are NOT trying to have sex can be very helpful.

6. Be gentle with each other. It’s happening to both of you. How you deal with each other in the beginning can have a marked impact on future sexual encounters.

7. It’s okay to get help. Talk to a therapist (either one or both of you.)

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Building Trust (by Gayle)

The key is to trust people to be who they are. Instead we trust people
to be who want them to be, and when they aren’t we cry.
~David Duchovny

I just posted an entry about building trust on the website for my counseling practice. It is so relevant to relationship building, I decided to share the link here. The question “how do I build trust/faith in myself” was posed to me. Read the answer here.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Building Better Boundaries - Part 1 (by Ron)

This is the first installment of a series about boundaries. In it I hope to introduce you to our concept of boundaries. The first thing I did was to ask the internet to help me define boundaries. It’s not as simple as you might think. In fact, according to the magic of Google the list is almost endless. Here are a very few of the more interesting definitions:

  • According to a boundary is “the line or plane indicating the limit or extent of something.” I kind of like that one since it includes limits.

  • In, as used in Topology (a made-up word for Geometry?) a boundary has something to do with “a subset S of a topological space X is the set of points which can be approached…” The remainder just gets worse but it reminded me of how confused many of us are about our boundaries so I included it.

  • And this definition from says it like I think it should be said. A boundary “indicates a border or a limit.” A Limit, again! That’s what we all strive to develop in our lives from the first breath we draw until the last – Limits!
This and following installments will strive to help you understand your boundaries, or lack thereof, and hopefully, how to improve them. So what are your personal boundaries? Your skin is one. It helps keep out illness, among other things. Your beliefs are boundaries. They protect you in many ways and are constantly being bombarded by outside (and inside) forces. The physical space around you is a boundary. Your physical body is also a boundary.

Over the years as we spoke about boundaries in our workshops, Gayle and I developed two quite different metaphors that reach the same conclusion. Gayle likes to explain boundaries with a sausage link metaphor. When you put a whole sausage into a pan or skillet with other foods the permeable casing (boundary) allows flavors to pass both ways, into and out of the sausage. This blending of tastes enhances the flavors of all the foods involved. No one taste overwhelms the other. When you take the sausage out of the casing and cook with it, it loses its shape and form. It's flavor adds to the dish but you can no longer tell where the sausage begins or end.

I prefer a chain-link or picket fence metaphor. Since we live in Texas it’s much more likely that we would have six or eight foot privacy fences but even these fit into the metaphor. If you have a picket or chain-link fence there are lots of open spaces. If you have dogbabies, as do we, they can easily commune with the neighbors' dogs without fear of coming into physical contact. If your boundaries resemble these fences then you have developed space around you that allows the in and out flow of ideas but no physical or emotional contact that you do not invite. These boundaries allow an exchange of ideas and of your person, should you wish.

So, think of your boundaries as being flexible and strong even though they allow permissible ideas, thoughts, and personal contact. They are not like privacy fences which don’t allow exchanges. Those are walls, not boundaries.

As you read this try to imagine these boundaries around you. Think about who invades them and who respects them. Ask yourself how you fail to tend to your boundaries. The next few blogs will get into some specifics about how we succeed and how we fail to protect our boundaries.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

My mother was what kind of cat (by Gayle)

I was reading a question on one of my favorite age gap relationship forums. I felt compelled to write the following post as a response to the question. If you read what I've written you'll figure out what question to which I am responding. So hang in there it will all make sense, I just had to share it here!

I'd like to introduce you guys to my mom and my step-dad. Here is their picture. They had a 15 year age difference. The pic was taken in 1976. My father had died 5 years earlier leaving her a widow at the young age of 54. The age gap between my mom and dad was 8 DAYS. My mother died 5 years ago shortly before her 85th birthday and what would have been her 28th wedding anniversary with my step-father.

Now, 5 years later, my step-father enjoys dating a variety of women closer to his own age. We just celebrated his 76th birthday. I guess my mom was a cougar long before it was cool. Their 15 year age difference worked beautifully and was full and complete is EVERY way. The only problem they had is that sometimes HE had a hard time keeping up with her. I can hear her wonderful and much missed laugh as I type these words. She would have had a ball with the concept of being a "cougar.".

I'm sorry I digressed, what was the question? Something about "what could he possibly see in a woman 18 years older who is his mother's age"....

Sunday, August 3, 2008

You Must be Able to Walk Away (by Ron)

"You have to be able to walk away!" "Don't fall so in love with something that you can't say no or wait for better timing!" "You'll regret it if you don't walk away from that deal!" Do these sound familiar? I heard them many times in my life and didn't always listen. So what happened to me when I didn't listen? I bought a car I couldn't afford but it sure was beautiful. I bought more than one house that was too expensive but they were "perfect", and I even bought an airplane that I didn't have time to fly and hadn't considered the cost of caring for and feeding it! In the long run, all the times I didn't listen contributed to serious financial problems later in my life.

So, have you heard this before? Did you listen? Most of us didn't. When you fall in love with a car, a house, a boat, an airplane or a person, the power of that desire often covers up all of the good reasons why you should walk away from the deal. With cars or houses or other toys it isn't really difficult to see the reasons why you should walk away. More often than not you are taking on a (financial) commitment that you knew deep down inside was a bad idea.

If you've fallen in love with a person it may not be quite so easy to walk away. You love them! You want them! You can't see how anything could be wrong because you love them so much! You can even see how much they love you! Why on earth would you want to walk away from all of that love? Love will conquer all. Right?

If you are asking yourself these questions you may need to seriously consider at least stepping back from the relationship for a while. How can you know for sure? Ultimately it's up to you, but I can offer a few guidelines that I have seen work for others who were asking themselves similar questions. I'm sure there are more and would welcome your comments and suggestions, but here is today's list.
  1. Do the two of you share similar values? About love, family, finances, boundaries, spirituality, and commitments?
  2. Are there things about your potential partner that irritate you now but which you are sure "will change after we are married?"
  3. Is their something in your potential partner's history that raises red flags? Multiple short relationships? No relationships? Multiple divorces? Addictions? Serious financial problems? A pattern of dishonesty? There may be significant parts of his/her history about which you know nothing. Does that feel safe?
  4. How about your interests? If one person cherishes outdoor activities and the other is an indoor person, how will that be handled? Do you love dancing while the other hates it? Golf? Bowling? Travel? No, your interests don't have to be the same but you should be able to see the path to compromise.
  5. Are children involved? Do you feel that your children are accepted by your partner? Do you accept his/hers? How do the children react to the presence of your partner. You shouldn't let your children dictate your relationships but you are asking for trouble if you can't see a way for them to learn to accept, if not love, this new person.
  6. In my opinion, the most important reason for you to at least back off and maybe even walk away from an otherwise attractive relationship is your gut. Do you have a "gut feeling," or "feeling in the pit of your stomach" that something is just not right? It doesn't matter what it might be. What's important is the feeling. We regularly ignore these feelings of intuition or foreboding and very often this leads to problems that could have been avoided had we trusted our feelings and intuition.
I'm not suggesting that you walk away from every opportunity or relationship that doesn't fit a specific set of standards, rules, or needs. There wouldn't be many relationships if we always let our doubts get in the way of love. All I'm suggesting is that you should always be willing to walk away.

Of course there are relationships that work well even though there were serious doubts in the beginning. Unfortunately, I believe those are the exception. If there are serious questions or doubts or if you simply can't see how you can make the differences work for you then you should definitely walk away. Don't wait one or five or ten or more years to realize this relationship is wrong for you. Make the break now. Grieve the loss now. Use the years you might have spent in a bad relationship to celebrate the good one you allowed yourself to find. The longer you wait the more difficult it will be to recover from the heartache. And the longer you wait the more people you involve in the loss.

Yes, you must be able to walk away. Although it may not feel like it at the time, you will find just the right car or house or person with whom to spend the rest of your life.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

The Easy Way Isn't Always (By Ron)

The easy way, that is. You might wonder what five days of hiking at 8,000 feet of altitude might have to do with our relationship blogs. In this case, they have everything to do with them. Gayle and I just completed our 9th trip to Yellowstone National Park. The beauty of the park is always enhanced by getting up close and personal so we always plan to hike a lot to get out into nature and away from crowds.

For past trips I have been in much better physical shape. As you may know, I'm am carrying some extra weight and have knee and ankle problems. We have been busier that ever and somehow I let my pre-Yellowstone conditioning slide. During one of my surfing trips on the internet I came upon an advertisement for small cans of oxygen. I talked with the people who sold them and was assured they would help when I was gasping for breath as I climbed Mount Washburn.

Well, I bought eight of the cans. When I got them I was surprised to see they were larger than large hairspray cans. I figured they would work, though. They were the easy way out for me to survive the hikes in my poor condition. They did work. I had two of them in my Camelbak and when I got winded I took off my pack, took out the can with the inhaler mask on it, and fiddled with it till it worked. And I felt better. I was still tired, but not out of breath. Then I put the large can back in my Camelbak, put the pack back on, and continued on the hike.

It really wasn't the easy way. It was embarassing to be seen huffing out of a can on the mountain so I had to make sure I did it when no one could see. It was also a lot of trouble removing and putting my pack back on. In short, it wasn't worth it. I still made the hikes but I learned a lesson about not putting off my conditioning.

So, what's the relevance here? It's simple. How many times in your relationships have you taken the easy way out? How many times did that get you the result you wanted? Not many, I'll wager. Relationships are never easy. They are never simple. There isn't a small can of oxygen that will easily breathe life into a troubled relationship. As I tell my couple clients, "you have to do the work!" Still, we look for the easy way so much of the time.

Here are some examples of the "easy ways" we use to try to make our relationships better, or even make them work. How easy do they sound to you? Please comment and add the "easy ways" you have seen or used in relationships.
  1. "I'll do anything you want." (If you have been to any our our workshops you might remember how that one looked when we acted it out.)

  2. "I'll just wait until things are a lot calmer. Then I can tell him/her how I feel."

  3. "Oh, it wasn't that bad (what he/she said or did.) "I'll just let it pass for now. I'm sure he/she didn't mean it."

  4. "Well I went to a therapist with him/her. As soon as he/she finishes the work we'll be ok."

  5. "That really pissed me off but I'll wait until I find a more appropriate time to bring it up again."

  6. "That hurt so badly but I just can't say anything about how I feel or it will cause more problems."

  7. "As soon as the kids are grown I'm outta here!"
Here's hoping you don't take the easy way. We'd like you to add your wisdom to our blog.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Gayle's List

What are 5 things Ron can say or do that make you feel loved?

1. Putting up with my sense of humor even though I know it’s overwhelming for him at times.

2. Sharing the people, places, and things he loves the most with me.

3. Eye contact with me and interest in what I am saying even when I know the topic may be a bit boring for him.

4. His abiding patience when I am in “buzzy hummingbird” mode.

5. His willingness to share his feelings with me even though he’s more of a”thinker” than a“feeler”.