Ruth Gordon

MA MSW LICSW

Office: 239.692.8060
Cell: 239.293.4314

Naples,

Florida

 

 

 

 

June 2017
Confessions of an Unrepentent Cougar

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There has been a lot of discussion about older women/younger men. The debate was mobilized when Prime Minister of France, Emmanuel and his wife, Brigitte Macron, popped into global consciousness.  After all, she is 24 years his senior!!  Well, they've lasted 10 years so far and it looks like they're doing quite well.

This side of the Atlantic is where Ruth Gordon and Harry Auch reside. I am 12 years his senior.  We have been married for 22 years.  I think it's safe to say that our union is pretty solid as well.  It's interesting... when I tell women that I am married to a younger man, the usual response is "Good for You".  And... I have to say it has been and continues to be good for me, good for him, good for us. 

I never thought about the term "cougar" until I wrote an article for theravive.com.  I was, and still am, surprised to learn that this designation carries with it a heavy load of judgment and condemnation.  It's not like I was 20 and he was 8 when we got together!  I did not plant a trap that he accidentally fell into.  That stuff is for fairy tales and our marriage is no fable.  When I think of a cougar I think of a beautiful animal that's smart and swift and knows how to survive and thrive.  I believe that most of us would be pleased to fit into that description.

Harry and I are not celebrities and do not meddle in other people's lives.  Perhaps I was naive, but I was baffled when I became aware that we had triggered an unwarranted amount of gossip and speculation.  Since I was happily in love, I failed to realize that guests at our wedding were making book that our marriage would last all of 10 minutes.  Really now, why would anyone care?  Additionally, why would people be so mean?

Did I worry that he would dump me as the distance between us in age became more apparent?  Not at all.  I did have some hesitation about the kinds of entertainment we might both enjoy.  So, I took him to some play (I don't remember which one) and he took me to a Pink Floyd concert and each of us had a good time.

We each already had children, his were young, mine were older.  It was understood that I was not keen on babysitting and he was not about to prove himself to my kids.  We adapted as necessary, complained when upset and learned that although we might have problems with each other’s progeny, it was about stage of life and not so personal.  I think that the difference in the kids' ages made it easier - there was no need to compete.

One of our most important bonds is humor.  We share a similar jaundiced view of the human condition.  He can crack me up with a look.  He has taught me to not take myself so seriously.  Life, in fact, has become easier.  We have always had the ability to delight each other.  My most fun times are with my husband.  That's not so easy to find.

A wise woman once told me that it takes 3 elements to make a relationship viable.

1.  There must be attraction
2.  The timing must be right
3.  Both individuals must want the same thing

Number 3 is the difficult piece.  Sometimes we don't even think about what we want.  We become so caught up in the immediate moment that we make assumptions that are not, necessarily, true.  What do each of us want our life together to look like in 3 years?  In 5 years? And further down the road?  Do we intend to continue to work?  Are we both looking forward to retiring to a sunny place with beaches, a mountain retreat, or not at all?  How do we feel about how to handle finances?  It's easy to roll along with the expectation that you are headed in the same direction, but, suppose you're not.  It is not age that allows you honor each other’s dreams.

A difference in age does not, necessarily, play a critical part in the way you believe life should be lived.  There's upbringing, culture, religious beliefs, fears and hopes to throw into the mix.  If what you have is a good match, you will still, probably, struggle with ideas about where you are headed.  You will, however, be able to discuss and really hear what each of you expects the future to look like.  Finding a solution that works for both of you is not determined by age.

I, in fact, love being a cougar.  Well, I love being Harry's wife.  A solid partner is a solid partner regardless of age.  It is likely that I would love Harry if he were older, but there is no need to speculate.  Our combination of gifts provides us with enthusiasm and know how.  Neither of us has to "parent" the other.  We each had managed to keep our heads above water (most of the time) before we met. 

My advice would be to open your mind to partnership possibilities.  Don't assume that you know what is going on in another's household.  If good friends point out red flags of caution, they mean well, but, they are not you.

As always, I say know yourself, listen to your heart and take a chance.  Of course, we get hurt when we love, but life would be pretty dreary without it.  Hold your nose, jump in the water and see what you find.

A beautiful thing is never perfect
Proverb