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Should A Younger Man Date (And Marry) An Older Woman?

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And are New Year’s resolutions a waste of time?

Ask Zoe is Aleteia’s weekly advice column. If you have a dilemma, question, or need some general advice for your life, email Zoe. All questions are given consideration and names are withheld.  

Dear Zoe,
A young man at my church recently asked my advice about whether I think it’s okay for him to date older women. He’s very mature for his age (around 24) and would really like to get married, but he finds women his age largely uninterested in marriage. There’s woman around 30 who he would like to ask out, but he’s feeling slightly hesitant since it still seems a little taboo for men to date (and marry) older women. I told him I didn’t think there was any problem with it—what do you think? 

Sincerely, 
Friend of A Younger Man

Dear Friend,
I’m with you. While generally men seem to mature more slowly than women, there are plenty of successful marriages between younger men and older women—I personally know a number of them.

Of course, the wider the age gap, the more both individuals need to be aware of factors that could impact and challenge their relationship. The first and most obvious one involves fertility. Women lose their fertility as they age, with 35 being the number most experts throw out as the year fertility begins to significantly decline. That doesn’t mean a woman can’t get pregnant for the first time in her late 30s and 40s—plenty do—but expectations around child-bearing are important factors to consider for both partners. 

Additionally, there are family and cultural factors to think about. As the younger man, will your friend be comfortable being the peer of his wife’s youngest brother, for instance? And will it bother either of them that many of their cultural references will be very different when it comes books, movies, TV shows, etc.?  

The main thing is for your friend to be able to discuss what the age gap might mean for him and his potential mate (once they’re dating), and to be prepared for any challenges. That said, a mature 24-year-old man and a 30-year-old woman might be perfectly compatible in many ways.

Sincerely, 
Zoe 

Dear Zoe,
Every year I make New Year’s Resolutions and every year I break them. I like the idea of resolutions, but can’t seem to make them work and I’m not sure why. I’m tempted to forget all about them this year. What do you think—should I make them again, and if so, do you have any tips for how I can be successful? 

Sincerely, 
Resolutions Waffler 

Dear Waffler, 
A lot of people give up on making resolutions for the very reason you state: they don’t seem to work. But one of the problems with the typical resolution is that it’s usually inherently flawed. We take something we believe we should do— exercise more, lose weight, etc.—and decide this will be the year we finally do it. But without real motivation or a realistic plan to make it happen, you’re bound to fail.

I recommend taking a different, more creative, approach to resolutions and there are many ways to do it. Here are a few ideas… 

First, don’t call them resolutions. Language matters and words have power. If you have negative associations with the word "resolutions," it’s better to call them something else like "plans" or "goals" or to re-phrase the whole thing entirely. 

Try looking back from the end of 2015 at what you want to have accomplished. Then take these concrete things and make a specific plan for them. So, for example, if at the end of the year, you want to have run a 5k, start making a plan for when and where you’re going to run the race and exactly how you’re going to train for it—put it all in your calendar. Or, if you want to have spent more time with family, decide when and how you’re going to do this over the next 12 months. 

Another way to do it is to pick a theme—just one. You can use a Scripture quote or an inspirational quote, or choose a virtue or habit you want to work on. Take for example, "patience." Post it (or the related quote) somewhere you’ll see it every day—on the bathroom mirror, above the kitchen sink, on the fridge—and then create a plan for how you’re going to work on patience throughout the year, such as:

– When I find myself losing patience, I’ll count to ten slowly before responding. 
– I will practice going the speed limit when driving.

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