Relationships: Does age difference really matter when choosing a marriage partner?

Last weekend, I attended a wedding where a prominent businessman of 45 walked down the Isle with a second year Makerere University student aged 25.

Last weekend, I attended a wedding where a prominent businessman of 45 walked down the Isle with a second year Makerere University student aged 25.

Apparently as the wedding ceremony went on, I realized that I was not the only guest amazed by the couple’s age difference but almost all the guests were murmuring to each other about the same.

Does age difference really matter when choosing a marriage partner?

If you are reading this article, you may also be in awe why of all men, such a young lady had to choose this “old horse” (if am to borrow Wole Soyinka‘s words) for a husband.

Looking at the couple at the high table, the age difference was so obvious. Holding other factors constant, the wedding dress code inclusive, one would easily mistake the wedding ceremony for a Confirmation or Christening ceremony.

On the other hand, I kept wondering why the invited guests were really concerned about the huge age difference. If two people meet, fall in love head over heels and ultimately decide to tie the note, why should people raise their nose?

As the ceremony went on, age difference in relationships led to one of the heated debates in history (backstage of course) at the reception.

Forget the one about whether America was right to attack Iraq or perhaps most recent, whether Barack Obama is likely to become the next president of America. The debate this time round revolved around age.

“Does age really matter in marriage?”

Since it was wedding ceremony, I didn’t get a chance to go around the reception hall to find out views of the different guests. I opted to do a study randomly on the streets on whether age was really a big issue when choosing a marriage partner.

Apparently, for most people, age is nothing but a number and as such it doesn’t really matter in relationships. If two people are in love, age should not be an encumbrance to a more meaningful relationship that leads to marriage.

“As long as the two people involved are adults and their feelings match, why should age be a problem?” says, Pheona Ankunda, 28, a secretary that is married to a man who is 15 years older.

Pheona adds, “I know when a woman decides to marry a man who is much older in society, most people consider her to be materialistic. But that is not always the case. I got married to my man, because he proved to me beyond doubt, that he was so in love with me. Some of my relatives were so bitter about my relationship with my husband that they even refused to attend our wedding, but I knew what I wanted in this man and insisted that I wanted to get married to him. We got married and now I have been happily married for the last 5 years.”

Pheona is not alone. Mark Rukundo, 26, a lawyer who is currently dating somebody younger, urges that age doesn’t matter, “My girlfriend is 5 years younger and is still studying. But I really don’t see age as a problem in our relationship. She may be young but she reasons like a mature person and for me that’s all. We understand each other very well and I feel nothing will stop us from getting married when the right time comes.”

While for some people age is just a number specifically in marriage, for others, age is everything especially when it comes to women. According to Paul, 35 who has been married for the last 10 years, the age difference really does matter.

“My wife is 10 years younger than me and this is okay .Though there are so many things to consider when choosing a marriage partner. But definitely the woman must be younger because a woman is considered to be the model of the family. If she is younger, she sends a better message about the marriage but an old woman can be frustrating.”

Paul adds that when a man marries an older woman, in most cases the man gets frustrated because such a woman may not be able to give birth.

Frank 30, a journalist also upholds the idea that “Age matters if one is looking forward to a strong meaningful relationship in marriage. At 30 , I want to marry a girl who is at least 25 years; an age difference of five  years, such a woman is mature and can handle marriage.”

Age is not really a big issue for men but women. Men don’t grow so fast like women. When you compare a man who is 40 and a woman who is in her 30s, you will find out that the woman really looks too old and worn out yet the man still looks strong and good.”

Men love to see their women younger and sexy; this makes them feel proud, that’s why you have so many old men dating young girls even when they are married. Well, like the old adage goes, one man’s meat is another poison. And indeed for some people age is not a determining factor for a marriage partner.

“As long as somebody is not below age, the age difference is not really an issue. There are so many things to look for in a marriage partner: love, care, intelligence and somebody who is responsible and hard working.

“If somebody is above 18 years of age, and has all these qualities, age difference shouldn’t be a problem,” says Timothy Kindi, 32 an accountant.

According to Catherine Muthoni, a third year student of psychology at Makerere University, age doesn’t matter if the couples involved are of a legal age. 

“Just because society doesn’t approve of it doesn’t mean it is wrong, and why should there be a limit on the age gap in a marriage based on love, who defines what is right and wrong but the people involved? If you believe in your marriage then age shouldn’t be an issue or barrier,” she says.

John Marie Mzee says, “I saw in Josephine the mother of my children; regardless of the qualities men normally fancy in women.”

He adds that when they met for the first time it was not age that they questioned but the love each saw in the other and the completeness they would give each other.

“We then decided to marry not because of age but the love we gave each other; she loved me and I loved her, what else would you expect such a couple to do other than walking down the Isle?” asked John Mary, an accountant in an Insurance Company and a father of six children.

Bottom line, choosing a marriage partner takes more than age. It goes beyond digits, since marriage as an institution is multifaceted. What is good for one person may not necessary be good for another.

Human beings naturally have different tastes and preferences especially when it comes to marriage. There are so many different things people look for in a marriage partner depending on their interests.

In most cases what matters in marriage is love and understanding between the partners. Two people come together to form a family not based on years but on what they may contribute to society.


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