Throughout our years together, my older man and I have developed a relationship that is open and trusting. Our marriage is so stable it had never occurred to me that it could ever be in jeopardy.
The day he said to me, “I can’t continue to live like this. You have to get help. This is ruining our marriage,” I was shaken into the reality that our age gap relationship was not foolproof. He had just given me the only ultimatum ever issued in our marriage. I immediately began to cry as I watched him walk out of the room, but I knew in my heart that he was right. If I didn’t do something about my problem, I would lose him forever.
For more than seven months, I had been living with a sadness and pain so deep, I closed myself off from those I loved, including my husband. The painful odyssey in my life and our age gap relationship began with the ring of a phone. Just seconds later I was screaming, “She can’t be dead, she can’t be. This isn’t happening.”
My best friend called to deliver the news that one of our closest friends had been hit, head-on, by a drunk driver and was killed. A beautiful, vivacious soul had been ripped from our lives, from my life, without as much as a warning.
My older man stood by my side through everything: the funeral, delivering a eulogy, and giving interviews to the media. He held me at night as I cried myself to sleep for months on end. But when the cameras were gone, the funeral was over, and everyone else seemed to go on living, I was still overwhelmed with sorrow.
I felt guilty for being alive, and in essence, I stopped living. I couldn’t be affectionate towards my husband; I rarely laughed or spent time with him just to talk. My days revolved around crying, pretending to be OK, and planning my statement to the court to ensure the drunk that killed her would get the maximum sentence.
On the day my older man told me I needed to get help, he added that not only had we lost her, but he felt he was losing me. His pain was unmistakable, and I believe his age was what allowed him the wisdom to truly tell me how he was feeling.
Hearing the gravity in his voice, I agreed to see someone. I learned that I was suffering from complicated grief; it had become so extreme that it was threatening to unravel my marriage, because it prevented me from connecting with the people I loved.
After meeting with a doctor and proactively working to push myself out of my grief, I realized how much I had neglected our marriage. I reached out to my husband and, once again, grew close to him. I had been afraid I would lose him, too, and was withholding my love. His reaction was immediate approval, support, love, and acceptance.
I learned that my older man was willing to stand by me, but I also needed to help myself. For anyone going through a difficult time in life, trust that an older man is also likely a wiser man; following his wisdom can prevent a lot of heartache and could save your age gap relationship.