My parents disapprove of my partner

I posted here a little while ago and received some very good advice so I’m back for more :slight_smile: There is a 20 year age difference between my partner and I. I’m in my early thirties. We’ve discussed issues around this at length and things are really good between us and starting to get serious. With one exception- my parents. They’ve met him once and don’t want to meet him again. They have no objection to him at all except for the age difference between us. They think he is far too old for me and that I’m ruining my life. I thought that in time they might calm down a little and start to see how happy I am with him but this is not happening. I feel sick with worry about this as I really want my parents to get along with the person I’m with. I can’t see things progressing with him as long as my parents so vehemently disapprove but at the same time I can’t see myself ending things either.

It all came to a head recently as my father had to go into hospital for surgery. I talked to him the night before and all he could talk about was how wrong I was and what a mistake I was making. He even went so far as to try to guilt me into ending my relationship by saying that he might not make it through the surgery and he was worried about how I would end up. I was really really upset after this conversation. Thankfully he made it through the surgery but he is not doing very well in hospital and I am so worried about him. But every time I go to visit him things are very strained even though I avoid the topic at all costs. My mother feels exactly the same as him so I can’t talk to her about it. My friends say to me that I need to do what makes me happy but neither choice makes me happy. I feel so conflicted as I have never had such a disagreement with them in my life before and always take their advice on board. I’ve listened to them but it seems that they are basing their decision on one issue and won’t take the time to get to know him at all. I don’t know what to do. Either I make my parents happy by ending it or I stay in the relationship knowing that they completely disapprove.

Hi Sonas, Just for the sake of clarity, how old are you and are you male or female?

Hi nodito, I’m in my early thirties and I’m female.

Kindly give details, exactly how old are you, exactly how old is he, and has he been married before? Does he have children? Is he open to having children? It would help to know if there really is actually a 19 year age difference between the two of you or if honestly there is a 26 year difference. Sometimes people say “20 years” just to simplify things.

There may be other factors such as his lifestyle, his job security and his past too. Perhaps if he is older and is not able (for whatever reason) to have children that may upset your parents and the thought of not having grandchildren.

Is he Catholic? Is he a good and decent man? You have mentioned nothing about him in detail, not even his real age so more information would be helpful. God bless you, you sound as if you are in much pain. I will pray for you as well as for your father’s health, please take care.

You seem reluctant to tell us his age. This to me seems like a sign that you already know in your heart that something isn’t right even though you may think you will be happy with this man. I suggest that you pray more about it and keep your heart open to whatever God tells you (good or bad).

God bless.

Wow, Sonas, I’m sorry to hear about your parents. I’m contemplating entering a relationship with a guy who is about 15 years older than me right now, so I can sort of relate.

Have your parents told you exactly why they disapprove? Is it just the age thing or is there something else? If it’s just the age factor, they’re probably worried about you ending up alone in your old age. That is a valid concern to think about for yourself, but personally if you’re really happy with your boyfriend and you think you would have a good married life together, I’d say go for it and the make the best of what you have together. Life is too short.

Your parents might have other concerns about him that they aren’t voicing, though, so if you haven’t already, I’d sit down with your parents and ask them to be entirely honest about what they don’t like about your boyfriend and why. Let them know you don’t understand their concerns and that you’d like to before you make your own decision.

Sorry if I appeared to be withholding information, there is actually exactly 20 years between us. I’m 33 and he’s 53. He is a widower and has adult children, whom I’ve met. But my parents’ main issue is with his age. He is very secure in his job and we have talked about having children in the future. We’re very open about discussing any and all issues that arise between us. I would really like things to progress between us but I’d like my parents to at the very least accept the man I’m with. And with the way things are with my dad at the moment I just feel so lost and confused.

Maybe part of the “age difference” issue for your parents is that his children may be close to your age. Maybe their feelings about your “upcoming step-children” has a factor in their thoughts - if they think you may be looking for marriage with this man.

If their main issue is his age, have you discussed their other issues with them?

Not all parents are always happy with their children’s dating partners. Have you spoken with your priest about this issue?

Why don’t you discuss with your mother what specifically bothers her about this situation? There are alot of special circumstances to consider when marrying a man who is so much older. What will your relationship be like with his family? Is he really open to having other children? Do you understand all the ramifications of the increased possibility that you may end up raising your children without your husband? Do you understand the ramifications of the incresed possibility that you may spend a large portion of your adult life caring for a husband with a prolonged illness? Your parents may be concerned about issues that they are aware of that you may not even have considered. I think you should talk with them calmly and find out what is bothering them specifically. You might also find out that there are other issues that have to do with this particular boyfriend and not necessarily his age.


Are his kids ok with you being future step-mom? My mother and I are 25 years apart. If she dated/ became serious with someone 20 years younger than her, I wouldn’t like it. I couldn’t think of that person as a step-dad.

There was 19 years between my parents and my mother’s parents disapproved very strongly of their relationship at first. Not only was my father so much older but he was not Catholic and, worst of all, he was divorced. In time, however, they did come round to him as they could see that my parents stayed happy together and, in due course, my brother and I arrived. The point is that you have to live your own life - they can’t live it for you even if they are afraid that you are making a big mistake.
You have not said whether your boyfriend is Catholic. Have you talked to a priest about this? You need to make it clear that you love your parents very much and they have a right to express their concerns but they cannot dictate your choice of life partner. If he is the right man for you, don’t give up your happiness with him.

First things first I am SO very sorry you are going through this. My beloved is also 20 years older than me and I can’t imagine if my parents were not behind me on this. You need to remain prayerful, pray for your parents and their acceptance, pray for your relationship and everyone involved individually. If you are confident that he is the one and things are progressing and moving forward then the bible tells us that we leave our parents and cling to our spouse meaning that it will be more difficult but if he is going to be your husband THAT relationship takes precedence. Also I think the fact that you are in your 30’s and your parents feel it is their right to try to force your hand into breaking up a potentially life long relationship to say more about their boundaries (lack their of) than your partner.

Some people are able to marry very successful with even a huge age spread, but I think in general, that it’s quite hard. You would probably have some people wondering if he is your father rather than your husband, that you are his daughter rather than his wife. You would need to develop a very thick skin. Not only your parents, but also a number of people in society might reject your relationship. You would need to prepare yourselves for that.

When you are 43 y.o., he would be 63. When you are 53 y.o., he will be 73 y.o. When you are 63 y.o., he will be 83 y.o.

One thing that might be helpful is if you would consider going to precana. I’d actually recommend that to any Catholic planning on marriage, anyway.

In the end, it won’t be your parents’ life. It will be yours. You will need to be the one living with the decision.

I would listen to your parents’ concerns, though, with an open mind. Really listen, because they do have your interests at heart. Then, after that, you make your own decision and live with it, in good and in bad, sickness or health, rich or poor to death do you part.

Your parents have probably been the age he is. I am slightly older than he is and if I were to become a mother again now I would be somewhat overwhelmed… physically, parenhood is difficult, and I don’t have the physical resources I had even 10 years ago. I would be eligible for Social Security when the child was not yet a teenager! I would be in my 70s when this child was still in high school!

And you are 33. I had my first child when I was 33, my last 10 years later. I would have been hapoy to continue having more, but God didn’t agree with me. Now your husband would be eligible for early Social Security when you might still be wanting children!

And the thing is, I would never have thought ten years ago that I would feel that having a child might be too much for me. This is why people my age are grandparents rather than parents, if you see what I mean.

Your parents may be concerned that this match may not work out well for you because of aspects about which you two cannot really *know. *They may be concerned that you might still want to have children at a time when he doesn’t have the phsyical resources to deal with being the father of young children.

Or they could be concerned because they are looking at their current situation–your father’s health, and wondering how you would cope with a situation like theirs but with younger children in the mix.

I think that possibly you are too old for them to feel that he is robbing the cradle (unless you are their youngest ;)); and he may have resources which would mitigate some of their possible concerns.

I would suggest, if you can, discussing this with your parents and finding out exactly what their concerns are. For example, if they are concerned about children in the future, but your husband has a job which would allow you two to hire a nanny, then that would be a mitigation of a concern that you would be carrying more of the parenting burden than if you had married a man closer to your age. I myself would have these types of concerns if I were in your parents’ position.

It may be that you have friends of various ages who have children and you could discuss with them some of the difficulties.

The reality is that at 33, you are capable of making this decision, and your parents, having given their input should then allow you to make this decision. Tell them too about your concerns about their attitude, that you do not want to cause a division between you and them but that you do want to marry this man and that ultimately it is your decision–would they persist in this attitude after you two married? Would they force you to chose between the parents whom you love and the man whom you love?

Another thing is that the two of you might go and discuss this with a very wise priest, if you know one. He may have seen these types of situations and have some guidance for you. He would be able to consider how long the two of you have known each other, and other things like that.

I also wonder why you keep calling him your partner. Is this a generational thing?

Of course every situation is different. And while generally age differences that big are problematic there are some situations that can be good. Like previous posters have said, there are more factors here than originally posted. What I noticed about your first post is the self centered nature of it. A lot of me and I and feeling statements. I would step away and ask yourself, why do my parents object? Do they have valid points? These are your PARENTS for goodness sake. They are not trying to squash your happiness but perhaps they are looking at this clearer than you are. Marriage is not about your happiness right now, but also in 20 years when you are 53 and he is 73 if each of you are blessed to live that long.

If I was your parents it would matter to me how you have conducted yourself in 33 years of single life. Do you live with partners? Do you make holy, life affirming decisions? Do you practice your faith? Have you made logical, healthy relationship decisions in the past? These would also come into play. I noticed that when you talked of your father who was the hospital for serious reasons your concern was not for your father but rather in how you perceived him to manipulate you with his health. Is this common? Or is this something your parents feel so strongly about that they really feel it is important to oppose. Why would they feel so strongly about something like that. There have to be reasons and perhaps they are reasons you should look into.

I was tripped up by the odd terminology as well by several posters. But I think it is because the term “boyfriend” almost sounds silly when talking of a 53 year old man. Because this is an unconventional relationship, conventional terminology does not fit. But perhaps it also shows that there are some unresolved issues that the couple is not dealing with.

I just wonder how equal of a relationship it can be when his Children are probably more the OP’s age. I would hope that he truly views her level of knowledge and respect different than his own children.

First I am going to point out the reason I would object if I were your parents.

1-) I have seen it time and time again that I have met a 53 year old and could NOT believe they were that old because they were still as active as a 30 years old. And then, overnight, they actually show their age. It might happen at 55, it might not happen until 65, but age will catch up with the. And you will be only 45 and still active like a 30 year old and he just will NOT be in the same place. A very big struggle in a marriage

2-) All your money goes to him, when he dies, some of his money goes to you, most goes to his kids. NOT FAIR TO YOU but… Even more unfair if his kids get nothing because of you.

Now, I am going to point out the other side of the coin. if you GENUINLY believe these issues are no big deal and this is DEFINETELY the man for you, you need to do God’s will even at the expense of your parents disapproval. You can’t always expect others to see your point


Thanks to everyone who replied. I really appreciate it. I think my parents are concerned about all the things people have mentioned here and we have discussed most of them but without any resolution. I understand where my parents are coming from. I know it’s possible that if we were to get married I could end up a widow while still quite young, maybe even with young children. But no one knows the future and the same could happen if I were to marry someone my own age. The way I’m looking at it, and please tell me if I’m being too naive, is that we could have 20 or 30 years together. Surely that’s better than 50 with the wrong person. No one can say what’s going to happen.

However I think the main problem my parents have is how others will view us. They are afraid that people will judge us and laugh at me. My mother even told me that I was acting desperate and that I could definitely find someone who’s my own age. I know some people are going to judge us and have opinions about us but in the end that’s really up to them. I just wish my parents were able form an opinion of my partner as a person and not just an age. Because if they came to me with any concerns about him as a person I would take them very seriously.

Just a point of clarification on my use of the term partner. I see from another thread that it is generally accepted that this indicates cohabitation. We’re not living together. I guess I feel that even at my age the term boyfriend is a little juvenile or adolescent, especially as we’re together over 2 years. But that’s just me.

One last little note, we received some very good news today about my dad’s health and we are all so relieved. Thanks so much to those of you who prayed for us. :slight_smile:

How are you with his adult children? Are they accepting of you and their father marrying a younger women? I’m not sure if this angle has been explored yet. Are you near their ages?

At your age you are well within your rights to decide whom you want to marry. It’s not like your 20 and he’s 40. You have some life experience under your belt. His children are adults with their own lives so I don’t see a problem there either. Do not make such an important life choice based on others opinions -even that of your own parents. Nothing you have stated here seems to show any red flags. Your parents embarrassment is not a legitimate concern. They made their choices in life, and now its your turn to make yours. They will get over it.

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