Friday, January 7, 2011

Misunderstanding May-December Marriages

I watched a short movie the other day while my son took his afternoon nap.  The description caught my eye for a couple of reasons:  it was about book editors and it featured a May-December romance.  I have been working on four books (in 3 different genres!) for more years than I care admit and I am in a May-December marriage so I figured that Suburban Girl would be right up my alley.  After pushing myself to watch the entire thing, I think it belongs up the screenwriter's ass.

I wrote about my May-December marriage one year ago.  The only thing that has changed since then is that we are both one year older and I'm pregnant again.  We get along shockingly well and I would guess that our relationship is similar to any other couple who has been married for 5 1/2-years.  We have a significant age difference, but I'm pretty sure that we have the same hopes and concerns as any other couple raising young children together.

Sure, my husband is in his 50s, but it isn't like we spend our evenings discussing retirement plans or whether Metamucil works.  My knowledge about pop culture is not limited to the pages of Star or In Touch and I can't think of a single time that he's brought up a topic related to celebrity or history that I know nothing about.  Similarly, I don't only want to talk about whatever it is that 30-something women like to talk about and, thanks to a daily dose of the internet, he's always known who I'm talking about when I mention the latest celebretard or pop tart.

This movie I watched took great pains to depict a May-December romance that fits society's pre-conceived notions.  The man is emotionally damaged and self-destructive, a lecherous chauvinist with a taste for young female flesh.  The object of his desire is fresh and naive, in need of a hand up in life.  A slightly kinky Cinderella, if you will.  Ultimately, they are just too different and, thanks to his support and tutelage, she has grown enough as a woman to walk away and move on by herself.  Fade to black and roll the credits.  It's so damned cliche and predictable that I could have churned out the entire screenplay in about an hour. 

May-December relationships don't necessarily have such significant inequality and I submit that problems will manifest in any relationship built on such a lopsided foundation.  I believe that statement to be true even if both partners are the same age.  I don't know why I feel the need to rant about this issue.  I guess because May-December relationships are an easy target for derision since they aren't the norm.

Why do I think my May-December marriage works?  Because my husband doesn't act like he's my teacher and I don't take the role of his student.  He's not my father and I am not his daughter.  He is not my mentor, he is my husband. . .and I love him to bits.


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