These couples prove age is just a number
Statistics show that British women tend to be around two years younger than their husbands. And the larger the age difference, the larger the risk of separation, according to a US study. But that’s not the case for everyone—as these happy couples prove.
Angela Di Pasquo And Joe Leon, 24 and 63
Angela Di Pasquo, 24, says, “I’ve always had a thing for older men. I had crushes on my teachers. When I set eyes on Joe, he was the handsome, mature older man I’d always dreamed of.”
Joe, 63, recalls, “Of course I found Angela attractive but romance was far from my mind. I thought she was far too young—much younger than anyone I’d dated before.”
The couple met at work in May 2013, with Angela asking for Joe’s number. She says, “We were just texting before we established any kind of relationship. When he told me he was 39 years older than me, it was a bit shocking! For a very brief moment I thought the age gap was too wide.”
Recalling their first date, at a trendy Latin restaurant in their hometown of Port St Lucie, Florida, Angela remarks, “Joe was smart, funny and interesting and his life experience added to the attraction. I knew I would have a blast being shown the best—because Joe knew what the best was!”
Joe remembers, “I loved Angela’s youthful energy and we laughed a lot. But the biggest attraction is that she’s smart and intuitive. I was concerned about how people would react, but Angela said, ‘Let’s take it as it goes’. ”
Joe was keen to meet Angela’s parents (“I wanted them to know that I wasn’t weird and I loved and respected their daughter”) and hit it off with her father, who’s four years his junior. “My son is a year older than Angela and they get along well too,” adds Joe.
Friends are supportive and Joe recalls, “When one of my new golfing buddies heard Angela’s age, he got on his knees and started bowing to me. It was hysterical!”
The couple, who are both actors, just laugh when they’re mistaken for father and daughter. When a shop assistant suggested a dress for his “daughter’s prom”, Joe replied “Oh, you know my daughter? Is she here?”
They both enjoy golf, swimming and cycling and Joe adds, “I was surprised, pleasantly, that Angela is a homebody like me. We can both be the life of a party—it’s just we prefer to stay home and watch TV, sing or play the ukulele and guitar.”
There are some generational differences. “Angela stays up late to play video games, which I don’t like,” laughs Joe.
Angela adds, “I try to keep him up but Joe likes to go to bed early. Unfortunately, this can wreak havoc on our free time together!”
“When he told me his age, it was a bit shocking”
She says their relationship is romantic and passionate. “I’ve found men my own age tend to be more selfish. I was always the one making the effort,” she reveals. “But Joe is very generous and attentive and makes me feel like the only woman in the world.”
The couple don’t have plans to marry, although Angela adds, “I’d like to have children at some point. But if it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. At times, being with someone older can feel less secure because there are more uncertainties in terms of the health of the older partner. Although my lifestyle is less healthy than Joe’s, so he could outlive me.”
Joe adds, “Angela and I are realists. We all die at some point, although age, in many cases, has nothing to do with it.”
In an effort to share their experiences and support other age-gap couples, Angela and Joe have launched an online community at maydecembersociety.com and their own YouTube channel (youtube.com/maydecembersociety). “We’ve heard so many horror stories about people who’ve been disowned by their families so we’re very lucky,” says Angela. “Age doesn’t determine personality. Who chooses what age gap is too wide?”
Joe agrees. “Age is just a number. All that really matters is that we love each other.”
Brenda and Andy Parsons, 66 and 52
Brenda and Andy Parsons, from Ringmer, East Sussex, met over the airwaves, talking on CB radio in 1981. “I was 17 and had just moved; I didn’t know anyone in the area,” explains Andy, now a farm manager.
“It was exciting, we talked about everything. Andy was good company. He was enthusiastic and made melaugh,” says Brenda who, at 31, was almost double his age.
A few months later, a big group of CB users met up for a meal and they just clicked. Andy says, “Brenda was fearless and good fun. I drifted into loving her but fought it for a while. Not because of the age difference, but because she was recently separated and had two kids.”
Brenda was similarly cautious. She says, “I didn’t give a damn what anyone thought about the age gap, but I was nervous it wouldn’t work long-term.”
Andy says, “I’ve always been the more mature one so Brenda and I are about the same mental age! I was helping out on my parents’ farm aged nine and babysitting at 12. I found my classmates immature and had dated older women before.
“I take things in my stride, but we get a bit of spoilt-child syndrome with Brenda!”
She grins sheepishly. “Andy is always telling me to act my age, not my shoe size!”
Their age difference was never raised by Brenda’s parents or Andy’s father, who’s only 14 years older than Brenda. “But my mum and stepdad thought Brenda was a scarlet woman,” recalls Andy. “They didn’t come to our wedding and we didn’t see them for five years—but we get on fine now.”
When they married in 1984, 19-year-old Andy became stepfather to a nine-year-old boy and a girl of seven. Brenda says, “Andy wasn’t fazed by it and the kids were quite chuffed! Andy would take them on bike rides and do things with them that I didn’t want to do.”
The couple, who didn’t want children together, found the marriage was something of an ego boost.
Brenda recalls, “One day at work my colleague said, ‘There’s some young man out here for you. Maybe your son?’ I enjoyed telling her it was my husband!”
Andy adds, “Half of Brenda’s friends took quite a shine to me and girls at college were more interested in me because I was with an older woman!”
He was less amused by people who knocked on the door and then enquired if his mother was home. “I used to say ‘You mean my wife?’ and they’d get embarrassed,” he laughs.
Apart from travelling, they have separate interests. Andy explains, “Brenda likes line dancing but I have two left feet. I like Monty Python but she doesn’t get it. I enjoy watching films while Brenda prefers shopping and gardening.”
Brenda adds, “Andy uses Facebook and pays our bills on the computer. I wouldn’t know where to start! It keeps it interesting that we’re not in each other’s pockets. Quite a few people thought we wouldn’t last. But 34 years later we’re still going strong.
“Andy and I don’t compare ourselves to other people and have friends of all ages. What does age matter? You either get along with someone or you don’t.”
Vanessa and David Rouse, 50 and 65
It was 2005 and Vanessa and David had been snorkelling with sea lions in the Galapagos Islands when conversation turned towards romance. “I said I was fed up with men who were selfish or couldn’t commit,” smiles Vanessa, then 39.
David chips in, “I asked Vanessa if she’d thought of dating someone older. She asked how much older and I said, ‘About 54?’ ” They burst into laughter at the memory.
Over the three-week group holiday, police officer David and RSPCA inspector Vanessa discovered how much they had in common.
“We both worked with the underbelly of society,” explains Vanessa. “We also share quite a childlike sense of humour. I remember being wrapped up in a green hammock, laughing that we were like peas in a pod.”
Vanessa appreciated David’s calmness and maturity and remembers, “When we went white-water rafting, David was looking out for other people and had a kindness to him. He was steady and reliable and that really appealed to me.”
David adds “Being around Vanessa felt good. She’s very caring, always thinking about other people.”
Back home, they met for Sunday lunch and started dating. With David only seven years younger than her mother, Vanessa asked her grandmother if he was a bit old for her. But the age gap was soon forgotten. “When I took David to a big family barbecue, everyone liked him and was glad to see me happy.”
David’s children from his first marriage, then 25 and 22, were equally supportive. “When I showed my daughter a photograph, her response was, ‘Well done!’ ” beams David.
“Vanessa is halfway between my age and my children’s. She gets on very well with them and is like a bridge between the two generations.” David continues, “We had very much wanted to have our own children, but it was sadly not to be.” David’s son has recently become a father, and Vanessa loves being a young grandmother.
The couple, who’ve been married eight years and live in Hampshire, now rarely think about their age difference. “When we’re out hiking or cycling, David has more stamina than me,” says Vanessa. “Although it was funny when we were in Tanzania. The safari guide asked me, ‘Are you here with your mummy and daddy?’ ”
David adds, “Recently, Vanessa suggested we go and see Sunny Afternoon—The Kinks musical. The early Sixties was my era. It’s funny to think that she was only a figment of her parents’ imagination back then!”
The age gap does occasionally throw up a few differences. “David’s into history and talks about things I don’t know much about. I like to look to the future, not the past!” she teases. “He likes The Proms but I prefer Level 42 and when I whack the volume up on the radio he says, ‘That’s loud!’ Luckily we’re both natural compromisers.”
Among her friends, Vanessa is very much in the minority for having a partner who’s retired. But she sees the positive side: “It means we have more time together to take the dogs out for nice walks.”
David adds, “She helps to keep me young. Vanessa has introduced me to yoga, healthy eating and ballroom dancing—things I never dreamt I’d be interested in.”
Vanessa concludes, “The age difference between David and I has never been a problem because we’re both comfortable with each other—and in our own skins.”
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