The entertainment world went into a tizzy after news broke that iconic musician Billy Joel had wed Alexis Roderick on Saturday evening, during their annual Fourth of July party in Long Island. The rest of the world simply sat up in shock. Sure, they’ve been together since 2009 and are going to have a little girl this summer, but perhaps you’ve noticed that they’re a bit further apart in age than most couples.
He’s 66 and she’s 33, making her just a few years older than his daughter (from his second wife), singer-songwriter Alexa Ray, who is 29. This is Joel’s fourth marriage.
The funny thing about huge age gaps in relationships is that it requires a whole lot of adjustment, compromise and loving understanding—not just from the two people in the relationship, but also from everyone else in their lives, from their respective families, friends, and even colleagues.
See yourself walking down the same path? Read on for simple guidelines on the basic areas to address when getting involved with someone way older, or way younger, than you.
- Compatibility: Romance is a wonderful thing and while it’s easy to say that age is nothing but a number, it’s tougher to deal with reality once the honeymoon period is over. The first flush of courtship may blind you to certain truths, but they become rather glaring in the clear light of day. Find out if your tastes match, if you believe in the same things and share the same values. It doesn’t matter how strong your love is—if these clash, you can be sure the relationship won’t last too long.
- Lifestyle: Fairytales are filled with royalty and paupers finding true love, but shut that story book, wake up and smell the coffee. If your partner thinks nothing of spending a small fortune on a bottle of wine for dinner, while you scrimp and scrounge to afford a pretty dress for that same dinner, there’s an obvious disparity in your lifestyles. You find pleasure in working up a sweat to de-stress after a hard day’s work, but your sweetheart prefers to knock back a few rounds of drinks instead. If both are wishing the other would change, this spells trouble.
- Goals: A younger person might be more career-driven, while their older partner has already achieved most of their professional ambitions and is preparing for retirement. While one looks forward to starting a family, the other might have already let go of, or given in to, those urges before they came along. Aligning life goals is a good way to ensure that your relationship is built on common and concrete pillars.
- Vitality: Age gaps mean a certain disparity in the amount of energy you both have. Even though a fit, healthy older person might have high energy levels that might put a younger person to shame, a younger person is more likely to take their health for granted and indulge in habits that are detrimental to that same good health.
- Interests: There’s no clear correlation between a person’s age and their interests, so while the younger individual in the relationship might spend their time playing video games, the senior one might be content to learn an ancient language. What matters is whether there is any common ground that you two can share and pursue together so that it brings you closer as a couple.
True love knows no boundaries, and the years between you are not an obstacle if you two are meant to be with each other. Just be realistic, stay positive and keep checking that your respective levels of compatibility, lifestyle, goals, vitality, and interests are aligned.