Tuesday, August 2, 2011

AARP readers: You’ve seen our bedroom; welcome to our blog

It’s a big day here in the Venema-Downs household. We’ve learned that the latest issue of AARP the magazine, featuring Michael’s essay, is arriving in people’s mailboxes. Michelle Obama (!) is on the cover. Distraction though she might be, somehow readers are still finding the essay. Traffic is up on this blog, and we’re getting great comments from new voices. So, to all of you, welcome!

We’ve written the blog for a little more than two years, trying to mix the personal with the cultural, social, and historical aspects of love between younger men and older women. You’ll find a few movie reviews here, a few comments on the Cougar phenomenon, references to some well known couples who were our predecessors (such as Robert Louis Stevenson and his wife).

You might also like to read the story behind the photo shoot. We had to do a lot of house cleaning.

Please, look around, stay awhile. Make a comment or three; ask questions or suggest posts (we’re always looking for new topics). Sign up to follow us. Thanks for visiting, and we hope you’ll read us again.


  1. Just finished reading my AARP magazine, love the essay! You both are great.

  2. Just read the piece in AARP and thank you Michael. My husband is 21 years older than me, we have been together for 15 years, married for 9. People often look at me funny when I tell them I have a membership to AARP especially since I just turned 35. Thank you for this blog, now I have something to read that I can somewhat relate to. Thank you.

  3. Great article...great writting..!!!!
    I do have one question totally not related to the article...do you have the knitting pattern for the afgan on your bed,. i knit and have made a similar afgan but your pattern is so much prettier. Thanks so much.

  4. Thanks to all you Anonymouses (anonymousi? anonymice?) for taking the time to write.

    For Anonymous #3: I wish I could tell you the pattern! That quilt was knitted by my grandmother, and she gave it to us as an engagement present. She did likewise for other grandchildren. Unfortunately, I can't ask her, as she left us quite a few years back.

    For Anonymous 2: Isn't it a hoot being in your 30s and in AARP? But the hotel discounts are great ...

    And for Anonymous #1: Thanks for saying we're great! We're glad you've enjoyed the reading.

    -- Michael

  5. Thank you so much for getting back to me re:afgan. Do you mind if I post a picture of the afgan on a knitting blog to see if anyone has the pattern?? What a special gift from your grandma!!!! May it keep you warm on cold nights, bring you comfort when you most need it most, bring beauty to you home, and continue to bring the love of your grandma to you both each and everyday.

  6. What a generous sentiment. And, no, I wouldn't mind at all that you repost the photo.

  7. WONDERFUL article. Six weeks ago I began seeing a man eighteen years younger but for some reason, in these early days, it makes sense. I'm more preoccupied with the difference than he is, I think, and I leap too far into the future instead of remaining in the present where it is wonderful and exciting. I don't know that he and I will ride off into the sunset - it seems unlikely and that makes me sad - but your article reminded me to simply love these moments. The ones that are now.

  8. Thanks for writing the article in AARP and your other blogs about this subject. I've always been intrigued by older woman younger man relationship. And that's why I wrote about this in my recent novel Song of the Silk Road. But the protagonist is not a couger, because the younger man is the one who chases her, not the other way round.

    Thanks and look forward to more posts on this subject!

  9. To practicallytwisted: Enjoy yourself! In the early days of our relationship, I was astonished at how much sense it made. But I also knew there were a lot of potholes to navigate. It's hard not to think of the future when you're starting an age-gap relationship, and, like you, I was more preoccupied with the age difference than Michael was. Don't count your younger man out -- sometimes these relationships have staying power! Sheri

  10. Congratulations on your life and love. I completely understand as I met my wife Sue in 1985 when I was 22 and she 41. We were very happy together until the very end. Sue died of a brain tumor in January 2006, just 7 weeks after diagnosis. Remember that every day is a gift.

  11. Rick,
    We do try to remember as you've counseled. I'm sorry to hear of your wife's death, but also glad that you found each other and made a long success of love.

    Rarely do men who have married much older wives comment on this blog, so I'm glad you stopped by. Now, curiosity leads me to ask how much of what I've written here matches up with your experiences, and where do yours with Sue diverge from mine and Sheri's? Adding to the curiosity is the fact that you are only a couple of years older than I am. If you'd ever care to answer that, publicly on the blog or otherwise, I'd be grateful to know.

    Again, thanks for writing. Be well. -- Michael

  12. Loved your AARP article. I also married a man just 10 years younger - but we have enjoyed 30 great years together. I am retired and he is still working -- but that is fine with us.

  13. AARP article was awsome! l looked up your blog out of curiosity and boy am I glad I did! It has been entertaining as well a good feeling to know that there are others like us out there.
    I am 58 and my husband is 46. We have been together 24 years (married 21). We raised 2 children from my first marrage and we have 5 grandchildren that keep us busy.
    I look forward to retirement because I want to spend more time on the ocean. He says that he never wants to retire unless we win the lottery. Ah, we will figure it out together as we have with everything else since we met since by the way was love at first sight.
    He enjoyed reading reading your article as well, He said to tell you he doesn't even think about the age or the dying, but rather the living! I must admit that I think about it though.
    Best wishes to y'all from TN.

  14. Howdy, HimPlus12 (from Tennessee) and HimPlus10,
    One of the things I'm enjoying most about people's reaction to the AARP essay is learning that there are so many people who are younger men-older women couples, who are making love and households work, and who aren't named Ashton Kutchner and Demi Moore. When we started we didn't know anyone else like us. Turns out, we probably weren't looking hard enough. Keep on keepin' on, y'all.

  15. At 31, I, too, am an AARP member, which I find alternately hilarious and a little disturbing. My partner is 54, but we joke (especially with insecure skeptics-- I'm sure you know them) that we got together when I was in my 20s and she was in her 40s. Michael, I very much appreciate your perspective, since most people I know who are attracted to an older person just hook up for a while rather than cultivate a long-term relationship. I look forward to reading y'all's blog while wearing slippers and a Go to Hell hat. :-)

  16. Hi friends, I am so happy to discover your blog! I'm a 36-year old female married to my soulmate of a husband, age 69! That makes us herplus32.5. :) I could identify with Michael's voice in this article and it was refreshing, interesting and well-written. Thank you for your honesty and continue to love and care for each other; we need more couples like you in the world.

  17. Life played a sort of cruel joke on me. Yesterday, I had a long conversation with someone who I've been strongly attracted to over the last 4 1/2 months. I believed the feeling to be mutual. I discovered, perhaps 2 weeks after we started talking to one another, that he was born in 1968. I was born in 1954. After all of the mental jokes I made about it all (he was almost a year old when man landed on the moon, and I was almost 15! was one), I then felt uncomfortable with the knowledge that I would eventually have to reveal my age to him (because I figured I was going to make some cultural reference that he was not going to get). The moment of truth came when I was giving him some advice. I simply told him "I'm considerably older than you are; I'm 56." His response, "you're young at heart." Talk about making me feel older! As the months went by, it seemed that age didn't matter. We went out a couple of times, shared a few kisses...then Friday, we were talking about what we were going to do over the weekend, and, in short, an awkward conversation arose about the desire to go to the beach. "I have no one to invite; I don't want to go alone," he told me. Long story short, we had a lengthy conversation in which he told me he was dating someone else, because his goal has been to settle down, get married and have children. Alas, I'm too old for him. He did say that he thinks very much of me and wants to stay friends, and "who knows, our friendship might last longer than any marriage could." Feeling dejected, I went home, picked up my copy of AARP and came across "Partners in Time." I had to laugh, not because of the content of the article, but because there I was saying to myself a 14 year age gap matters more to the guy I like than it does to me, and both you, Michael and you, Sheri, have proven that age is nothing but a number. I will chose to stay friends with this man, because true love comes from a strong friendship. If we wind up being just friends throughout the years, that will be fine (in spite of some of what he has said to me, he really is a good person; he is spiritual, has a good heart, and is very smart.) Sheri and Michael, your relationship shows me that there is a chance to find someone to be in love with, even if he's younger. I won't give up hope...I might be lucky and find a partner who is younger and doesn't mind the age difference. Time will tell.

  18. Anonymous,
    I'm sorry to hear about this bump in the road of your relationship with a younger man. When Michael and I were first seeing each other, he called me once to go to a movie and then he said, "But we're just friends, right?" That remark really deflated me. But I said, "Of course!" in a jaunty voice. Just that moment made me feel silly -- how could I have thought this would turn into a romance, I told myself. So I know the feelings you're having now. Not every age-gap friendship turns into a romance, I know. But some do. Michael was willing to give up having children, but not every man can or should give that up. I'm glad that our story gives you hope for finding a soul mate, whatever age he is.

  19. Partners in Time (AARP The Magazine- its a wonderful and beautiful article.
    I enjoyed reading and felt touched in my heart.


    West Palm Beach, FL

  20. Hi Michael & Sheri! My gf gave me your article & I loved it! My Michael & I are "him + 18". We have known each other for 13yrs & finally listened to our hearts (and my kids) & married 1 year ago May. I look forward to following your lives thru your stories.. life is always a rollercoaster & isn't that just awesome! Much love fellow agegappers.. Jeanine

  21. Michael and Sheri - Thank you for existing! And thank you for making known your unique journey of enduring love and commitment. I, 51, married a man 17 years my junior only 5 months ago. We are amazingly compatible! It took a little convincing on my part that he was actually the man he portrayed himself to be. But I trusted, and I'm learning anew each day that he is truly my "platinum" husband, as I call him. Our relationship is still very young (married 9 months after we met), and we have so very much to experience and learn! I'll be watching this blog to get clues, cues and insights from my fellow veteran agegappers. Thanks again.

  22. Hi Michael and Sheri, I just read the story in the AARP magazine (I'm a member courtesy of my older husband, ironically!) Wonderful story, wondeful blog--I like the photo on your blog better than the ones in the magazine, though. I love the quote from Larkin in the story and the blog article about Edna St. Vincent Millay! I married a 7-year older man but I've always thought the older woman/younger man pairing to be much more the natural order--if women have a longer life span, it makes sense that we should marry younger men. However, since I married at age 21, that option wasn't open to me! I also read the articles about childlessness with interest as I chose not to have children and my husband fortunately agreed with me on this. I am now 50 and have no regrets in that regard but we made the decision in our 20s I felt better about it for his sake because he was "older" and I figured he must know what he wanted! 27 doesn't sound that old to me now, but it seems he was mature enough to make the right decision for himself because we've been happily married all this time. Please keep writing and sharing your story....

    P.S. (Two of my favorite movies are Harold and Maude and 40 Carats!)

  23. Gosh, all these kind words. We're a bit overwhelmed. But I'm also beginning to think about what y'all have to say -- Nebula, H. Toure, ColoGal -- and I wonder whether there are a few guest posts in our future ... No pressure, but if any of you would care to go beyond a comment (Nebula, we've never seen 40 Carats? A review?), you can write us at mdowns (at) michael(hyphen)downs (dot) net.

    Some of you (I'm looking at you ColoGal) are already bloggers, so a guest post could even create some cross-pollination, blogwise ...

  24. My husband is 10 1/2 years younger than I am. Fortunantely we met when he was 20 and I was 6 months into 30. Children were important to him and I already had two but we figured what the heck and had two more together. I just turned 58 and I worry about getting to the point where he will look at me and wonder if other people think I'm his mother or start being more attracted to younger females. Is this normal?

  25. Hi Anonymous. It's probably normal for you to be afraid of that. I was mistaken for Michael's mother a while back and it threw me for a loop.(I wrote about it in one of our very first posts two years ago). It's also probably normal for him to look at younger women, and that might happen whether you're the same age or 10 years apart. But also, it sounds like you and your husband have some staying power -- you've been together almost 30 years! Congratulations!

  26. One of my favorite movies has also been Harold and Maude and that was even before I met my husband. I read these blogs and I can identify with some of the comments, especially when something was said about the age my mother when she died, comparing myself to her and then thinking "oh my gosh" I only have 20 years left with this wonderful man. Its scary to think that I have lived longer than I have left to live. P.S. I only picked anonymous because I couldn't figure out the other options and I don't have a google account. ha,ha
    Pam, in Kansas

  27. When I divored 2 years ago I was never a "cougar/predator", but younger men were attracted to me. I was surprised! The man I am with now approached me in the elevator of our apartment building. As I walked out he reached throught the door and handed me his business card. He said,"Call me if you would like to go out to eat sometime." I knew he was younger than me, but he was a gentleman and friendly. I took a risk, emailed him and we met for a meal and movie. I drove separate ! 21 months later he has moved into my condo and rents a bedroom, bathroom, garage stall and use of my home. I told him he would either be my renter or my husband. We would not be "living together." That is such a cliche' ! We are more than that!! We are both divorced and have hurts and happiness associated to marriage so that is not a option at this time.
    We met when I was 56 and he was 45. My son-in-law is 7 years younger and that just seemed weird !!! He told me he has always been attracted to older women. So I thought, it might as well be ME !
    I have laughed more in the last 2 years than I did the 37 years I was married. I also rode on his motorcycle the first summer I met him. He encouraged me to take the motorcycle basic riders course and get my license. At 58, I bought my first bike this spring. I now have a second bike, a 2008 Yamaha 1100. We plan to ride the Needles Highway this fall. I love it !!!
    You don't mention much about your sexual intimacy in the AARP article except the picture of you both on your bed and the comment, " a young lover holding hands" when ice skating. When I divorced at a older age I thought no one would ever want me and I would never have sex again. I didn't. I now "make love" to a man that pays attention and wants to please ME. We both reap what we sow and are learning what unconditional love is.....age doesn't matter.
    We enjoy every moment we have together and as far as the future.....God laughs when WE plan.
    sooooo "ROCK ON" !!!!!!

  28. HI! Enjoyed your article in AARP. Yes, I am a member, even tho I'm only 43. Because my husband is 24 years older than I am. We have been married 15 yrs, and have 2 kids.

    I loved the part about reminiscing, because my husband often says "remember that?" and I'll laugh and say, "No, I wasn't born then." :-)

    Thanks for showing the world that sometimes the exceptions to the rule really do work.

  29. Hey there kids.
    First of all, thank you for your essay in this month’s AARP. My wife and I were both touched by your essay. I was born in ‘69, she was born in ’46 and we’ve been married since ‘92. There is so much content in your article that we relate to. We both relate to the specter of mortality you mentioned in your article. This September will mark the 6th year my wife has been cancer-free. It’s one thing to suspect that my wife will die before I do; it’s something else entirely to stare, unblinking, into that monster’s face.

    We have never met another couple with our 23-year age difference. Your article, and now your blog, let us know that there are other people out there who have embraced love when they found it; regardless of what other people said about its’ potential longevity.

    The fact is that I married my best friend’s mom. We didn’t plan on it. In fact, when I met her, I was in my slutty phase of my early twenties and thoroughly enjoying myself. My friend and I were both in the navy and he was excited about me finally getting to meet his mother. He had told her that I was the “brother he never had” and that she would love me. However, he had warned me that she was a pistol who would “dot my eye” if I stepped out of line, but once I got to know her he was confident that I would “love” her.

    He had no idea how right he was. Though I don’t think the kind of love we found was the kind of love he had in mind. The hardest part was telling him that we were…. Um… “seeing” each other. We met in July and were married in December, shortly after my 23rd birthday. She was literally twice my age.

    My friend was confident that our marriage would end shortly, and would end in tears. He was divorced less than a year later while we are going strong. Thankfully he has remarried to a fantastic woman and now has a wonderful family.

    One of my greatest joys has been skipping the diapers, runny-nose, expensive school clothes and rebellious teen years but jumping straight to the joy of grandkids. I’ve got two “kids” that are older than I am, and two (including my best friend) who are younger than me. I have seven grandchildren that are the supernovas of my life.

    What we have isn’t for everyone, but it is full of love. Thank you for letting other people know that it’s okay to fall in love with someone, regardless of age. It’s not easy and there are adjustments, but the love is real when you find it. Love doesn’t see crow’s feet.

  30. Wow, I feel validated! I also read your AARP article, and was excited to learn of your blog. My husband is a MERE 9 years younger than I! Until now I have felt rather isolated, as far as our age gap goes. But now I'm saying, "Wa-hoo! No big deal!" (which it has never been for my hubby) I'm 63 and he's 54, and we've been married 8 years. Just one thing, though...I've never liked the expression, "cougar;" where did that come from?

  31. Kris of SoDak: Congrats on your younger man and a love so powerful that led you to the seat of a motorcycle (you drive that highway along the Missouri?).

    Motorcycles still make me a little nervous. In fact, it's usually Sheri who is the more adventurous in our pair. Except, maybe, when it comes to talking about our sex lives. As you note, I didn't mention intimacy in the AARP article. However, we did pull back the sheets before on the blog. Check out these posts: http://himplus17.blogspot.com/2009/04/foreplay.html and http://himplus17.blogspot.com/2010/05/o-youth-and-beauty.html

    And thanks for reading!

  32. wordsbyfrank: Man, you know how to tell a story. Why don't you post on your blog more often? I love the sentiment you've written here so much I'm going to write it again: "What we have isn't for everyone, but it is full of love." That's the crux. That's the joy. That's the secret of life, isn't it?

  33. Howdy Dally:
    Cougar? We don't like that stinkin' word, either. I'm not sure of it's origin, though the good news is the Oxford English Dictionary still doesn't recognize any definition except "a large American wildcat." First time I came across the "prowling older woman" definition was while watching the E network to kill time in a hotel. A show told me more than I needed to know about Demi Moore and Kim Catrell and the like. In fact, I wonder sometimes if you can only be a cougar if you prowl red carpets.

  34. Hi Sheri & Michael -- I enjoyed your article and am happy to say I am a member of your club, as well as AARP! My husband and I met when he was 20 and I was 40. That was back in 1985. We couldn't be happier. Age means nothing other than in a practical sense. I couldn't go to bed without looking up your blog. It's great to read about so many happy relationships. If I need any advice or have any to give, I will be visiting your blog. Lori

  35. Well, I'm only 25, so not much qualified to write about an AARP article.... But my husband is 63, so we get the magazine and benefits. :)

    We've enjoyed reading and hearing about other people with big age differences. My parents cried over the fact that I probably would never have kids, but I am an animal person so never really wanted kids. Instead I get to be the crazy, now-not-spinster auntie!

    My parents refused to let me marry my husband, but I jumped in my truck, took all my things (including 3 milking Jersey dairy cows...) and headed West to his home. We have been together 7 years now and we cherish every minute together that we can! Luckily, my parents (who are younger than my husband) have accepted him and we will be moving home soon to live near them. So those things thankfully came around.

    We were told that our age difference would keep us from understanding each other. It has not.

    We were informed that this decision would make life "hard for others". It has for some (namely his grown children), but for most, they accept us and like us quite a lot!

    We were told that life would be hard, all the stares and questions of "is that your daughter" or "you and your dad". Well, we just have to have a sense of humor and brush that off!

    Like some of the other people that posted on your site, I've always been more comfortable around people older than me. My friends from high school went all directions and have modern interests (drinking, partying, etc.) that never interested me.

    Instead, I get to come home every day to a husband (who lost his first wife of 36 years to cancer) who cherishes me and treats me like I'm the prettiest lady and the most wonderful spouse. Trust me, I can look past a loooot of age when a guy starts saying nice things like that!! We get to talk about history and our cows. He talks about his father, who grew up in the days when they cooled milk in cans in the creek and took the mules and wagon to the town creamery to deliver the milk. We really have a lot of fun and so much to talk about!

    I'm thankful for those that have accepted us, thankful to have found a husband that takes care of my every need and is exactly what I wished for as a girl (well, maybe a little more mature than I planned, but that's fine!), and would encourage anyone with guts to follow their instincts - it's you're life and you have to live with the person you chose to marry, so make sure it's the right person and not just who others think you should marry!

  36. Thank you for the AARP article! It put into words things I haven't wanted to say out loud- that he will probably die first, many years before me. I also experience age confusion alot. I'm 44, my husband of 21 years is turning 62. People think our kids are actually his grandchildren!

  37. Just as Cynthia mentioned, your article put into words things I knew would one day come but, I am still not ready to face. Although, anything can happen, I sometimes grieve for the time I will miss with my wonderful husband as I grow old without him. In our me + 18 years husband relationship, I still see us as the 28 (more mature, quiet, introspective) and 46 (fun-loving,gregarious) couple not, the pushing 50 and 67 year old couple that we are today. Your article was a beautiful tribute to love no matter what our ages and with a few tears and many smiles led to a great conversation between the love of my life and I. Although, our journey is changing with the aches and pains that Father Time has given to my husband, I would not have wanted to travel this road with anyone but him

  38. just read the article in AARP. You said some of the very things that my much younger boyfriend and I have been discussing. We've been together for well over a year and are thinking about what the future might hold. Some of my fears for him are the very ones you ask yourself. and then I ask.

    I tell people that I did not rob the cradle, he robbed the grave! He pursued me until I finally gave in...thinking it was just a whimsy and it wouldn't last.

    Thank you for sharing your story...and I was thrilled to see that there are many of us out there.

  39. My husband is also 17 years younger than I and we have been married 21 years and each day gets better than the last. I was more uncomfortable about the age difference than he was at the start (he was 30 and I was 47) and now I can't imagine why I was so concerned. The age difference truly does not seem to make any difference - we are like two peas in a pod and each of us cannot believe that life can be so good, for so long! I'm sure there will be problems as I age faster than he, but some friends of ours (who are now both in their early 50's) just learned that one has the aggressive form of MS. Our next ten years together will probably be better than what they can expect. There's no guarantee no matter what you do. I'm now 68 and still working full time - because I want to - and we are planning a backpacking trip in the High Sierra area of Yosemite next summer. I don't think I would be this active if I was married to some old fart!

  40. What a delightful article in AARP and a delightful blog. My wife was 17 years older as well (although for a few months of each year it was only 16 months, and she was quick to point it out.)

    We were married for 27 1/2 years until she passed away. She promised she would live to be 90. She did not make it and and died when she was 76. I'm still annoyed that she broke her promise.

    It was a great marriage. The age gap was a challenge, but not a huge obstacle to our happiness or to our day-to-day lives.

    Finding the ideal spouse/mate has less to do with age than other factors.

    Good luck to you both.


  41. OMG, this blog is wonderful, and the postings are so sincere. (I had a long comment that, for some reason, has not appeared, so will try again.) I need some help. After four years of online communication of a business nature, I finally got to meet a gentleman in person earlier this summer in his city, where I was attending a seminar. He thought I was about 10 yrs older than he is. When I told him he was off by 12 years (him 42, me 64), he was shocked as hell. And now I believe he is hung up on the age thing. He has a friend who is 42 and happily married to a woman 23 years older.

    We hit it off after the one lunch meeting, with a great intellectual connection. (I have met my match in him regarding intelligence.) It has been three months since I returned to my home, and we have communicated via phone, email, and texting. But, I have not heard from him in 9 days now (except for a short response to an email sent to several people). We enjoyed each other's humor, and discussions on topics like international politics, national affairs, etc. The abruptness of not hearing from him has me wondering whether I should be angry or sad or nothing. I know he wants to take this further, but am puzzled as to his total lack of communication at this time. I miss talking to him. (There have been no intimate relations, but we talked about it when we might see each other again.) Did he run scared, do you think? Is he waiting for me to make a move? (I am still kind of old-fashioned there, wanting the guy to do the pursuing.) If I hadn't told him my real age then (would have later), perhaps he'd still be communicating? Anyone have any advice for me? I will be back in his city in two months to attend another seminar. (Since I can't figure out how to get my online profile working for this, I will identify myself as anonymous-traveler.)

  42. michael and sheri,
    What a love story..Yours is a story different than ours..It just shows love will find a way..I was 15 and he was 19..I wanted to be his wife..I have been for 49 yrs.He was afraid i was too young..A love story is still a love story..I am 65 and he is 69..Still holding hands..

  43. I really enjoyed the article. While my husband is only 2 months older than I am, I can even see similarities. I am African American and our men tend to leave us very early. I can see him slowing down and am daily trying to remember and remind him to let's just enjoy the journey. Leave the destination to itself.
    Thanks for sharing. P.S. This is the first blog post I've ever done. I'm 62 in 3 months. :)

  44. Post-Irene, I hope East-Coasters who read this blog are above water, powerd up, safe and dry and , if necessary, handy with a chainsaw. No drama here: just a wee bit of raking and a few hours without our cable/phone/internet.

    Thanks to y'all for your recent comments -- and congrats on the most recent "Anonymous." Your first blog comment! (Applause, applause). Thanks so much for writing, and here's to you and your husband enjoying those daily destinations.

    I hope some other Him+-ers might offer advice via these comments to "Anonymous-Traveler" above. As with Lucy in "Peanuts," any advice Sheri and I offer is probably only worth a nickel. We just tell stories and hope people connect. My nickel's worth regarding A-T's plight is that I didn't pursue Sheri in our early days (and for some reason she rubs this in -- a lot), but I was interested, so kept making myself available for a conversation here, a slice of pizza there, a movie ... She kept on, no pressure, but her consistency made me much more comfortable with the moves forward.

  45. Your article in AARP made me happy. In 1994 I met a man who I thought was maybe a few years younger than I. He thought I was a lot younger than I was. Ultimately we discovered that he was 31 and I was 52. We guardedly fell in love, lived together, and often he talked of marriage and adopting a couple of children. As I saw this evolving, I reminded him that I had two children and that he deserved to have the same to raise from infancy.
    With a lot of sobbing, we parted. Well, he's never married, never had his own kids, still calls me "baby" and after I moved away, we still see each other a few times a year and talk regularly. He, of course, is busy working; I am retired! We still love each other, consider each other to be best friends, he loves hearing stories about my grand girls! The comfort level and respect we have for each other, I have never found with another man. If I had it to do over again, I would have said "yes, let's be different." So your story makes me smile and glad to know that someone else is living their drean.

  46. Great article! Love conquers all.
    I fell in love with your bedspread. Where did you get it? I would like to buy one.

  47. I read your article in MY husband's AARP mag last night. And I thought "Finally! Here it is in black and white!" There are 29 years between my husband and I. I'm 34 and he is 63. We have been together 10 years and married for 5 years this October. He has 5 grown children and 5 grandchildren. I have never had the desire to have children. That was our stumbling block because he felt he was cheating me out of my own kids. Once we worked past that it has been wonderful. Though society sometimes looks at us weirdly. I do not feel I have cheated myself and he says I keep him happy and young. He is my best friend and I could not see me spending my life with anyone else. I am so happy to see so many other blessed couples like we are. I realize we are not alone! And I even carry the AARP card too, gotta love the discounts!!

    Leesville SC

  48. To Anonymous who loves the bedspread: I'm assuming you mean the fancy one that's folded on the end of the bed. We think it's pretty, too. I don't think you can buy one-- that one was made by Michael's grandmother when we got engaged, and I believe the pattern was lost when she died.

  49. Where do I begin, responding to "Partners in Time" (First Person article about a couple with a 17 year age difference).....there seemed to be a pervasive feeling of regret, confusion, ambivalence...and "unease" coupled with "hope". Where is the joy, anticipation, deep appreciation for having shared 20 years together so far?
    My husband, David, and I have been together 29 years, since 1982; married since 1987. I was from Philly and he from Boston but it was in the backwoods of Maine that we met...he was a fiction writer, and small press publisher; I, an editor and journalist for newspapers and magazines, as well as a writer of fiction and poetry and a couple of children's books. He was 31, lurching through a dysfunctional marriage; I was 52, divorced, and raising the last two of my five children.
    David is now 60 and I'm 81. I am still in recovery from two broken hips and innumerable complications. He had open heart surgery this year for an aortic dissection. I still think of him as my irresistable "boy toy"....he still thinks of me as "beautiful" and "sexy". We still kiss ... a lot ... and hug and take naps together...watch tons of movies...read to each other...joined a pool to help with our therapy...enjoy eating in various (cheap) ethnic restaurants and talk with each other about whatever is on our minds... plans and dreams for when I'm "stronger" and more able to travel ...anything and everything, including "venting" about any worries we might have.
    We have very little money because neither of us can work at a regular job, but he plays keyboard with two bands and also performs solo, singing and playing guitar. He is constantly told he looks like Neil Diamond, but he is much handsomer. Right now my main job is "healing", and being housemother here to our two Chinese grad students...we have had young people from numerous other countries in the past.
    David and I have been through so many deep and rich experiences...when I was 70 we started writing songs and performing and had our own band; our cds are still played on the radio.Check them out on CDBABY/August Sky/Flight . We mosaic'd walls (store fronts/patio walls, etc.) We gave Creative Writing workshops to middle school kids...and adults.
    We comforted each other when my youngest son died suddenly and unexpectedly from the same thing that happened to David..an aortic dissection. We clung to each other in grief and shock and poured out our pain in songs and poems about him ... and to him.
    Life is such a tapestry...sorrow and tears woven in with pleasure and contentment, laughter and fulfilment. "Everything changes and everything dies." So...savor every moment. (Just think, my "healthy, perfect" husband...who is 21 years younger than I am...very nearly died six months ago...so, Michael Downs, don't be so sure your wife will "go" before you....watch what thoughts you put in the ether!

    Patricia White

  50. Like the others, I became aware of your blog from the AARP Magazine article. My marriage was also a reverse 18. When we married I was 30 years old and my wife was 48.
    It was my first marriage, but it was her fourth. Right away there's a danger signal. "That'll never fly!"
    She had four children. Her oldest daughter was my age.
    Her oldest son was three years younger than me and her other son was five years younger than me. Back in 1959, he and I worked in the same company together. That's how I met her.
    Her youngest daughter was just a teenager of 15.
    So there I was with a ready made family complete with teenager.
    Want to take odds on this one?
    In short; we were married 46 years. She died in 2008 at the age of 94. She outlived two of her own children and all four of her siblings.
    The last 5 or 6 years were the most difficult for us. She had many medical problems. Fortunately, her mind remained sharp.
    Surprisingly, I always got along just fine with her children and her extended family.
    I'm 80 years old now. I live alone in the same home we bought shortly after we were married.
    That teenage daughter is 65 years old now. She calls me nightly and visits weekly.
    Would I do it all over again if i could? That's a hard question to answer. It depends so much on circumstances.
    I will say, however, that if I were a young man again and met an older woman who was as attractive and classy as my wife was, it would be hard to resist.

    Here's a capper for you: Her youngest son, the one I worked with, married a woman 15 years his senior. She died four years ago at the age of 87. They had been married 45 years. He is 75 now and lives within a few miles of me.

  51. Such great posts. I've read them all. Sorry to say I must sound dull. I'm 63 and my husband is only 65. Do I see smiles all around? We have been married 42 years. We would laugh at the Beatle song...When I'm 64? I still feed him, and I still need him. And he is past 64.

  52. Folks,
    If there were a "like" button for comments on our blog, as there is on FB, I would like all of yours. Thanks so much! -- Michael

  53. Well, here it is December and I'm finally getting around to some old magazines...including this Sep/Oct 2011 AARP. Which reminded me of when i was first back-again single at the age of 47 a young business acquaintance of 33 asked me to lunch. Tho I didn't know his exact age at the time after a few "fun" dates, I soon realized he was starting to introduce me to important people in his life ( best friend, kids, parents). I thought maybe I had better 'fess up my age which resulted in a serious talk. He reminded me of what fun we had together and what a good "fit" he thought we were and that his friends and family already
    loved me and he did to. He said we didn't have to get married; that he just wanted to spend the rest of his life with me. I told him it was too soon for me; that he would come to his senses as soon as he saw a girl from his graduating class or the new girl in his office. I still think of him and the fun we shared. I wonder if I made a mistake. I am now 65. He has become a successful businessman. His kids are in college. He never married.
    Thank you Sheri for saying yes. Thank you Michael for writing about it.

  54. I took my mother to the doctor yesterday, and found the only magazine in the office to be an out dated copy of AARP. Serendipity played as I picked it up and turned you your page. I'm 17 years older than my husband and we've been together 7 years. Thank you for your blog and happy faces! You guys are my hero!