Dear Dr. Wallace:

I’m 20 and have been going out with a guy who is 15 years older. Lately, he has been “hinting” that he would like for us to get married. I really like this guy and he treats me with respect. He and his father own a successful trucking company, so he is pretty well off financially. I’ve given this a lot of thought, but I’m not so sure I want to live the rest of my life with an older guy.

My parents are totally against me marrying this guy, but it’s my decision to make, not theirs. I remember a letter from a lady who challenged your philosophy of “when both the male and female are over the age of 18, age difference should not be a major problem. The letter appeared some time ago and, at that time, I wasn’t really interested in what she had to say, but she married an older guy, but said that it was a mistake. Any chance you can reprint it again?

— Nameless,

Atlantic, City, N.J.

Dear Nameless: That letter must have made quite an impression on you. It was written by a woman who expressed second thoughts about the biggest decision she ever made in her life — to marry an older man.

While I understand her point of view, I have also received many letters from mostly women telling me a big age gap made no difference in their marriage. In almost every case, it was a young woman (over 18) marrying a man 10 to 25 years her senior. Here is the letter you asked for:

Dear Dr. Wallace: Even though I’m a grandmother, I enjoy reading your column. I hope you will allow me to share a personal experience that might benefit 18-, 19- and 20-year-old women who plan to marry much older guys. Don’t do it!

When my husband and I were married, I was 18 and he was 35. I was attracted to his mature and sophisticated manner and the fact that he wore a United States Marine uniform.

After giving birth to four beautiful daughters, I started to realize that our age difference made a difference. I was 25 and in my prime while he was 42 and looking forward to the day he retired from his job. He loved his daughters, but it was up to me to make all of the decisions concerning their upbringing and future.

When I was 45 and had seen our youngest daughter graduate from college, he reached his goal. He retired and also started drawing Social Security. I wanted to travel, go to the theater, go out to an occasional fancy restaurant and entertain friends at home. Joe wanted to fall asleep on the couch at 7:30 p.m. after eating a pizza delivered to our door.

As I write this letter, I am a very young 68-year-old woman who has spent the past 10 years caring for my very senile and sickly 85-year-old husband. Don’t take me wrong, I love my husband very much, but knowing what I know now, would I marry him again? No!

— Grandmother,

Charlotte, N.C.

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