A few days ago, Mandy told me that she met someone. For Mandy, this is epic because she had just about given up hope of ever meeting someone; not while being a devout Christian who doesn’t believe in sleeping around, moving in together before marriage or chronically dating various men.
Mandy is my 28 year old colleague and had been in an abusive marriage for 4 years before deciding to call it quits just over 2 years ago. And now she’s back home with her parents and siblings. On her best days she’s full of hope and is quite optimistic about life in general. I can usually tell by the glint in her eyes as she breezes into my office with her cheerful demeanor and says “Môre Skuttie” (Good morning Sweetheart or something like that) before rambling off the latest happenings and conveying any news she may have.
Then there are other more somber days when she sits at her table, morose and sullen; the life evaporated from her aura and then I just know its one of those days where she feels like a failure, insecure and inadequate. These days are usually prompted by disputes with her family at home, or by her financial insecurities. On these days I usually make her a cup of coffee, buy some chocolate, drag her to our little corner, and then let her purge her soul while I listen intently, offering advice or encouragement. Luckily for Mandy though, she never stays depressed or despondent for long and is usually back to her chirpy self in no time.
On this particular day, Mandy was more vivacious then usual. There was that familiar glint and a hidden smile on her face. She said that she had met him at church and that he was charming and polite, respectful and honest. They’ve been spending a lot of time together as “friends” while getting to know each other and he seems genuinely interested in her. He is also divorced and has a four year old son, who lives with his ex-wife. He invited her over to his home one evening for dinner with friends and she was taken by the confidence, security and stability he exuded. In the time she got to know him, she discovered that she really enjoyed his company and wouldn’t mind spending a lot more time with him; and the feeling is mutual. She says that he has a good job and would be able to provide for her if they were to marry.
The problem? He is 42 years old, 14 years older than her. According to Mandy, his age isn’t an issue for her, but it is for her parents. They don’t approve of her friendship with him and they will not approve of the relationship, based on his age. Mandy on the other hand will not go against her parents even though she really likes him; because she has the utmost respect and reveres them that much; and as long as she resides under their roof, she is obligated to comply with their wishes. This situation leaves her torn and lonely.
I assessed the situation and recommended that she speak to her parents about reconsidering. She says that its not that they don’t like him, they do, they just feel that it’s inappropriate considering his age and they’re worried about what people and society would say of the relationship/marriage if it were to happen. They are afraid of the shame or dishonour it would bring upon the family.
I told her the following:
Fuck people and society, they will talk anyway.
That it’s not like she’s 18 years old and it’s not like it’s her first marriage.
That if she really likes him, and she knows that he feels the same way; she should do something about it because he won’t wait for her forever.
That she should have a serious conversation with her parents and highlight her concerns.
That if he can love and take care of her the way she needs to be cared for, then it’s worth a shot.
That she should realise that what he can give her, her parents, siblings and all those people who “talk” can’t give her.
That her parents won’t be around to take care of her forever, that she has one life and that her time is now.
That she should make her decision based on self-respect and what she wants out of life and not desperation.
Maybe I’m wrong, but that’s my opinion. I don’t see why she should spend the rest of her life alone because her parents don’t approve of the one decent guy who came along because of his age. But she’s terrified and won’t go against them…which may be the right thing to do. It’s one tough position to be in.
Personally, I always thought I wouldn’t go for younger guys because of their maturity levels. My theory is that I can have kids; I don’t need to marry one. But that has since changed when I met younger guys who didn’t need to be breast-fed (in the non-sexual way to you pervs out there…and think in words not pictures). Now my criterion includes ages between 25 and 35, and other things that are better reserved for the corners of my mind. But the “Muslim” contingent is mandatory and non-negotiable.
I wouldn’t want to go against my parents either. But I can’t help feeling that sometimes they know better, and sometimes they don’t.
Now what would you do? Are there any specific requirements/criterion when it comes to your life-partner?