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.

No comments: