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Son's Fiance is too old for him

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Old 14th April 2019, 11:26 AM   #1
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Son's Fiance is too old for him

My wife and I have been aware of our sonís dating preferences since he left home for college. He prefers older women. We believed it was a phase and did our best not to get bent out of shape. We have met several of his older girlfriends over the years. Most these women were 15 to 20 years his senior. They were nice. We were cordial. The relationships always ended, and when they did, he moved on to the next older woman. We tried to be patient and told ourselves it was only a matter of time until he came to his senses and began dating girls his own age.

Our son is 24 years old and could have any woman he wants. Heís athletic and good looking. He graduated from college and has a good job. He doesnít smoke or use drugs and he drinks sparingly. Heís responsible with his money. So, why does he gravitate to older women when he has so many options?

Two months ago, out of the blue, he told us that he had gotten engaged to a woman we had never met or heard him speak of. Sheís sixty-seven years old. My wife and I are both forty-eight. Sixty-seven is not ďolderĒ, itís elderly! He told us theyíve been seeing each for eight months, but he held back from telling us until he knew their relationship was serious, because he didnít want to upset us unnecessarily.

My wife and I accepted a dinner invitation at his apartment to meet his Ďfiancťí. We did not go on the attack, but we didnít ignore the elephant in the room either. Weíve also seen them several times since the first meeting and have tried to peacefully dissolve the situation with polite reasoning. I like to think of myself as being an open-minded person, but thereís so much going on with their relationship that isnít conducive to a good marriage and I donít understand why they donít see this.

She is not a bad or evil person. Under different circumstances, my wife and I could appreciate her as a friend or acquaintance, but not as our sonís wife. Unlike most of my sonís older girlfriends, his fiancť does not come off as the lecherous ďcougarĒ type. She has a warm and sweet personality. She doesnít try to dress or act younger than her age. She is more of a Ďwhat you see is what you getí kind of person.

As a man, I canít understand what my son sees in her from a physical attraction point of view, unless itís an extreme case of opposites attracting. There are also health concerns at play. His fiancť is a very heavy smoker and the addiction has clearly taken its toll on her health and looks. I donít say this to be mean, because my wife and I are both smokers. When we brought this up to our son, he accused us of being hypocritical. Not only are we concerned about her health, but weíre also concerned about his. I didnít start smoking until after I married his mother. Itís a fact that many nonsmokers take up the habit after they marry smokers. In my case it was a blend of curiosity and misguided romantic inclinations. It started with me lighting my wifeís cigarettes for her and it moved into the bedroom. My son probably has calluses on his thumb from lighting his fiancťís cigarettes for her. I just donít see how anything good can come from this relationship.

I wrote because my wife and I feel helpless. Somewhere along the line, we apparently did something wrong to be at the point we are now. Patience and reasoning havenít worked. Their pending marriage is a train wreck ready to happen and we are desperate to stop the train. Is there anything we can do or say that will make a difference? I feel the only option we have left is to use a tough love approach by turning our back to our son.
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Old 14th April 2019, 12:11 PM   #2
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I don't think you need to tough love him. Treat them both with respect. Just be sure to be there for him when it all goes South.

And yeah I don't understand why he would be into her either.
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Old 14th April 2019, 12:45 PM   #3
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I get it but ... MYOB.
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Old 14th April 2019, 1:01 PM   #4
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Has a life insurance policy been recently started? With him as sole beneficiary? Kidding, maybe?
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Old 14th April 2019, 1:11 PM   #5
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What do you think turning your back on your own son is really going to accomplish, OP? It is very unlikely to yield the results you want, and will probably only serve to fracture your family further.

I can understand your concerns about this, to be clear. You have several valid points. However, it isn't your train to stop. He is an adult and doesn't need your endorsement in his choice of partner.

You don't have to approve of his choices, but you can't make them for him either.
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Old 14th April 2019, 1:16 PM   #6
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I think the most likely scenario is your son is taking advantage of these old people financially, so you should find out what's going on there.
"I care not much for a man's religion whose dog and cat are not better for it." -- Abraham Lincoln
"The greatness of a nation & its moral progress can be judged by the way in its animals are treated." -Gandhi
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Old 14th April 2019, 1:31 PM   #7
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I’m no expert, but it sounds like your son has something called Geronphobia or something like that. You can look it up but I think its an emotional and sexual attraction to elderly people. I don’t know if there’s a cure but I kind of doubt it. There might be some kind of therapy but I think it would be like gay aversion therapy that doesn’t work. So, I’m thinking if you got it then its something you live with. I know its not what you and your wife want for your son but it sounds like something your son wants and needs. It also sounds like all those relationships with middle aged women was his way of smoothing the road and warming up for grandma. A 43 year age difference is crazy big but you knew he liked older women.

I don’t think it’s a good idea for you and your wife to disown him or his fiancť. I don’t think he’s doing this because he wants to make you angry or because he wants to ruin his life. I sympathize with you and your wife but I sympathize with your son too. I’ve got to think that coming out to his parents and marrying a grandma has got to be hard even though she probably makes him happy. Like I said, I’m not an expert but he probably wouldn’t be happy with a girl his age or he would have done it by now. Or maybe he did try it and he didn’t like it and he didn’t tell you.

I do agree with you about the smoking and I think he needs to avoid starting like the plague. You said you already talked to him about it so you’ve probably said enough. He knows how you feel about the age difference and the smoking, so anything more is just beating a dead horse. Personally speaking, it would have disturbed me if I saw my son lighting up a granny’s cigarette and getting cozy with her while she smoked because it would lead to more disturbing thoughts, like grandma having a post-coital cigarette in bed. It’s going to happen because they’re in love, but that’s still TMI for a parent.
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Old 14th April 2019, 1:53 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by kennybenson View Post
Two months ago, out of the blue, he told us that he had gotten engaged to a woman we had never met or heard him speak of. Sheís sixty-seven years old.
If it walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, probably a duck.

Something going on here which will eventually reveal itself. Be neutral, non-committal and patient until it does...

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Happiness is not a goal; it is a byproduct -

Eleanor Roosevelt
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Old 14th April 2019, 2:03 PM   #9
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All marriages come with a gamble of it not working out and one or both parties getting hurt, and this isn't really any different. I would not be happy about it either, but there isn't anything you can do about it but, as someone else said, be there to help him pick up the pieces if/when it doesn't work out, or she passes away. I would not turn my back on my child if they made this choice any more than I would if they married someone of the same gender, a different religion, etc.

Are they planning a big wedding? If so, is part of your resistance due to embarrassment about what family and friends will think?

I wonder how her family is reacting to this relationship. Do you know?

Final thought: Hopefully he will not take up smoking.
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Old 14th April 2019, 3:05 PM   #10
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Everyone has different tastes in what they want in a partner. He's apparently had this attraction before, so its not just something that happened, as youve seen it from him before. I guess all you can do is accept it and hope it turns out ok.

But it really is bizarre.
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Old 14th April 2019, 3:13 PM   #11
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I think seeing a therapist as a family might be helpful in this situation.
The therapist would be a neutral party who would help all of you understand each other's concerns and viewpoints.

Does your husband have a good relationship with his mother?
Sometimes people who actively seek out much older partners are looking for whatever they missed in their relationship with the opposite sex parent.
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Old 14th April 2019, 3:22 PM   #12
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OP, all you can do is love your son......from experience trying to force children into what you want them to be or what you want them to doesnt just love cant make choices for them or you dont even have to agree or accept the choices they make in life and love....she doesnt sound dangerous.....and i have dealt with toxic partners my children have had.....suffice to say...they arent around anymore....and no i didnt have them bumped...but natural progression of what i knew would happen...happened.....they didnt love my girls.....they loved what my girls or should i say my young women would do for them....and they eventually split up........

the only thing i could do during their doomed to end relationships.....was love my them through the good times and the bad times.....and thats it....offer heartfelt advice and let them make their own choices.....even if they were bad....i just loved them...that what parental love is...its not conditional on choices they make......

just love your son.....and let him find his feet in life ...with all the good and all the mistakes along the way...offer him guidance from your own experiences...but...dont expect him to take your advice....offer it never know what he will truly hear when he listens with his heart as you offer advice from your own heart with every good intention...

he may indeed love this older woman...and she may love him.....its not for you to say yay or is a choice we make...but loving as parents....our choice should be already simply love them...forever...regardless of who they choose to love............good luck...deb
Captive with chains held unbroken, in my fists
born by the lips i lose and lips that I've kissed.....
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Old 14th April 2019, 8:07 PM   #13
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Great advice, as alwaysk, from @todreaminblue. Beautifully said, girl!
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Old 15th April 2019, 6:30 AM   #14
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I appreciate all the feedback

Thanks everyone for some great advice. Some thoughts made me think and other thoughts made me want to explain more details.

Sharon, I think the word youíre looking for is Gerontophilia. I donít know if thatís the case since as far as I know, his fiancť is the first real elderly woman heís had a relationship with, but you could be right. Perhaps the middle-aged women were his way of getting his courage up for this.

Thank, @todreaminblue. Your post made me feel bad about the possibility of tough love and turning my back on my son. Heís a good person and a good son. He deserves to be happy and I should be happy if heís happy, even if I donít understand his happiness. The tough love strategy comes from my wife and that leads into some things that Betty said and asked about.

My wife loves our son, but Betty is right about them having a somewhat strained relationship. My wife has a very corporate and demanding personality. It suits her well for business, but maybe not so much for raising kids. Oddly enough, Iím the touchy-feely parent.

As far as therapy for my son is concerned, I think thatís a great idea but itís easier said than done. This is something we suggested to him while he was still in college, but he didnít want anything to do with it, so my wife and I tried it together without him. It was kind of like Alanon. We thought if we went to counseling, weíd learn how to steer him in the right direction. Of course, Alanon isnít for fixing alcoholics. Itís for the family to cope with the situation instead of fixing it. Anyway, our attempt at counseling didnít go well because we didnít hear what we wanted to hear. My wife felt as if she was being blamed for our sonís dating preferences.

I tend to take my wifeís side in debates and arguments. I think thereís a tendency in therapy to blame the parent for the childís misdeeds, but there could be some truth in that. But I donít think I want to call it blame. My wife isnít a touchy-feely person, but I canít believe my son ever felt unloved by either of us. Weíve always supported him, even now weíre kicking and screaming and calling him names.

I donít think my son has gerontophilia. However, Bettyís post got me to thinking about my sonís relationship with his mother and how he might be looking for something he never had. Last night I started thinking about the girlfriends that we did meet. These were the middle-aged women in their 40s and early 50s. I never thought they were similar to his mother or looked like her. Forgive me for saying this, but when we found out about the older women, I thought about Oedipus stuff and mother issues. But I didnít really see that because the women werenít clones of his mother. And his fiancť isnít a clone either. All his girlfriends were very nice and warm women, some more than others. But they were all very warm and affectionate.

Sharon P said something in her post that hit a sore spot. She said, ďI do agree with you about the smoking and I think he needs to avoid starting like the plague. You said you already talked to him about it so youíve probably said enough. He knows how you feel about the age difference and the smoking, so anything more is just beating a dead horse. Personally speaking, it would have disturbed me if I saw my son lighting up a grannyís cigarette and getting cozy with her while she smoked because it would lead to more disturbing thoughts, like grandma having a post-coital cigarette in bed. Itís going to happen because theyíre in love, but thatís still TMI for a parent.Ē

My wife could have said the same thing because it really bothers her that most our sonís girlfriends smoke. I didnít like it either but it bothers her more than me. The thing that makes the situation with our sonís fiancť different is that she actually lives with him, which was something we didnít know until he told us about her. My wife and I have never smoked in our sonís apartment before, but we did that night because his fiance was smoking inside. That was very odd and my wife asked about it. My son treated her question like it was no big deal, but Iím wondering about that after Bettyís post, when she said, ď Sometimes people who actively seek out much older partners are looking for whatever they missed in their relationship with the opposite sex parent.Ē

@Cautiously Optimistic asked about her family and the wedding plans.

We have met her family in the form of her daughter and the daughterís husband. Her daughter was the one who created and managed her motherís dating profile on Christian Mingle. At sixty-seven, his fiancť isnít much for computers, so that made sense that her daughter would want to be the gate keeper. She told me that she turned away my sonís requests but that he was persistent, and she eventually agreed to talk with him on the phone. The first two dates were double dates with her and her husband. They like and trust our son and the daughter says her mother has never been happier.

As far as the wedding is concerned, itís still up in the air. His fiancť doesnít want a big wedding, but my son wants it be special. They havenít talked to the pastor yet or set a date, but theyíre considering a small ceremony at his fiancťís church. If they do that, theyíll have to get premarital counseling, which is the biggest bright spot in all of this. Of course, I know they can still get married without her pastorís blessing. They just wonít be able to have the ceremony in that church.

@C.O. asked if my wife and I are embarrassed. That would be a big yes. This is something weíve kept to ourselves, except for our immediate family- our parents/his grandparents. Theyíre not happy about it and my wife and I arenít in a hurry to tell our friends because weíre hoping the problem will go away and can be left unsaid and unspoken. I think it would be best for everyone if they broke up before the wedding, but I donít see that happening because he seems so crazy about her. Iíve never seen like this with any of the other women I met, but of course, he never asked any of them to marry him. So, I guess that says something too.
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Old 15th April 2019, 6:43 AM   #15
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