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Health & Sex

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May-December Couples: 5 Challenges, Solutions

What to prepare for if there's a big age gap between you and your partner.

To Have, or Not Have, Kids

For May-December couples, having children can be an issue. If a woman is older, she may not want, or be able, to have kids. A man may not want to start over when he's older.

This doesn't have to be a deal breaker, but it's wise to address it early on in the relationship.

"The clock tends to tick faster for this couple -- one that marries at 27 has some time to be together before they start a family," says Sandra Caron, PhD, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine. "This couple won't have that luxury (especially) when she is older."

There are some obvious solutions, such as adoption, surrogacy, or being a foster parent, if an older woman can't have children.

If one partner wants kids and the other doesn't, Luster says you may be able to work through the issue with counseling and acceptance that your idea of a family may have to change.

Blending Families

If you're the older partner, you may already have children from a previous relationship. Luster, who is married to a man 15 years her senior, experienced this.

She says it is important to be respectful of the children -- they didn't ask for a step-parent, much less one who may be near their age.

It can help to spend time alone with your child. Just make sure they know your partner is there to stay.

Helen Fisher, PhD, an author and biological anthropologist with Rutgers University, married a man 21 years older. She says it's important not to try to win the children over by acting their age. She seemed to take on a role more like an aunt or older sister with her husband's children.

"It was a nice position in the family," Fisher says. "There were times when I understood his kids better than he did and I was able to work between them."


Another major challenge can be dealing with health issues an older partner might have. But again, there are ways to work through this.

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