This Is What It's Like Having a Much Younger Husband

He may be 14 years my junior, but he has more emotional maturity than any "age-appropriate" man I’ve ever been with.

This Is What It's Like Having a Much Younger Husband
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Two years ago, my husband Craig and I were packing up 29 years' worth of apartment into boxes to move into a new place that would be ours with no ghosts of ex-boyfriends past dwelling in the walls or under the bed. As we sorted what books to keep and which DVDs to donate, I came across a bunch of old LPs I'd long forgotten about. One was Toto's "Africa," which I told Craig I'd won at Ryan Lipchitz's bar mitzvah. He looked at me blankly.

"What's wrong?" I asked.

"Are those guys the ones who sang 'Down Under'?"

"No. That's Men at Work. These guys sang 'I bless the rains down in Aaaaafricaaa…'"

He laughed and said the song was ridiculous. But before I could bust his chops and defend Toto, I remembered he wasn't even born when the song came out in 1982. Mind you, this was roughly the same time I was a pre-teen, killin' it on the bar mitzvah circuit, dominating on the dance floor and raking up all the chart-toppers at the time as prizes.

An almost 14-year age gap between spouses may seem massive on paper, but it never felt that way for me and Craig. We met in 2015, when I was working for an on-tape audition facility as an acting coach (just one of my many day gigs at the time) and one day, this adorable man walked in. He was brilliantly talented and I adored working with him. But he also had a live-in girlfriend. Though I admittedly flirted just a bit, I knew nothing would ever happen because a) He had said live-in girlfriend, and b) Even if he was single, I was sure he'd have zero interest in a woman who had T-shirts older than he was.

Still, it made me giddy to see his name on the client list in the morning.

Two years into working with Craig, my dog of 16 years—who was my best friend and who had seen me through many bad dates, toxic relationships, and especially embarrassing moments—passed away. I took off for the West Coast to heal my heart, and when I returned to New York about two months later, I ensconced myself in work, taking a demanding playwriting class, and hustling daily with my multitude of creative jobs to support my New York lifestyle.

One day, a friend who coached with me at the same studio told me Craig had just broken up with his girlfriend, and I had a shocking response: In the throes of grief, I couldn't stop smiling like a teenager. The reaction genuinely surprised me, but I dismissed it as insanity and focused on my writing. Again, this man was younger than my favorite comfy tee.

On the last day of my class, my friend was having a 50th birthday party. I wasn't going to go as I got out very late, but the party was one block from my house, so I had no excuse. I at least had to run in, give her a kiss, and wish her a happy birthday.

When I walked into the party, there he was, sitting alone at a table. It turns out, Craig was waiting for me once he heard I was on my way.

Instead of running in for a quick "happy birthday," I stayed for hours, just talking with Craig. Later, he insisted on walking me home. "We really should meet for a drink sometime," he said. I kissed him on the cheek and said goodnight as I walked upstairs, giggling to myself like a teenager again.

older woman marries younger man, photo from shari albert's wedding
Kathryn Cooper Weddings

The next day I woke up to an email from Craig asking me on a proper date for that Saturday night. Of course, I accepted. But soon after we sat down on that first date, I asked Craig if he knew how old I was. Now, I do look younger than my actual years roaming this planet, so he guessed around 35. I thought he was about 35—turns out we were both wrong (him by about 10 years and me by about 5).

Craig's exact words to me after I told him my age were, "That's hot." But me? I was a little concerned that it would prevent us from having something more long-term, though I didn't want to let myself get carried away by thinking in those terms just yet.

Still, it did give me pause. After all, I had never dated anyone with this large of an age gap before (13.7 years, to be exact). But then I thought, "Hey, this would most likely be fun for awhile." Worst-case scenario, it would be a great story.

What I did not know, of course, was that we were heading straight for Falling-in-Lovesville.

When we were about three months into our relationship, things got a bit more serious and my biggest reservation was whether or not Craig wanted kids. I knew I did not and thought that might be a deal-breaker for him. My second-biggest fear was that he might change his mind once things that are now upright and perky start to head south—including my mind. (I mean, I was already constantly asking him where my glasses were when they were on my head.)

These fears were compounded by some feedback—unsolicited, of course—that people would actually say to me out loud. Like one time, at a party, when a friend of a friend asked if I was seeing anyone. When I told her about Craig, she said, "He's going to change his mind and want a family eventually." At the moment, I remember her words making my stomach drop.

But I also got the opposite reaction, with things like "You go girl" and "You're my hero!" Of course, Craig loved the latter comment. To this day, he loves saying, "Isn't it great you have this hot younger guy who is totally crazy in love with you?" (He's right. It is.)

My friends, meanwhile, inundated me with memes of Samantha from Sex and the City, which really did make me chuckle. And yes, before you ask, one of the perks of dating younger is he can keep up with me sexually. I'm not gonna lie, it's a huge plus.

older woman marries younger man, photo from shari albert's wedding
Kathryn Cooper Weddings

About four months into dating, we had a pregnancy scare—and trust me, it was scary on multiple levels. It turned out that I wasn't pregnant, but the situation got us real-talking about my deep-seated fear: Craig wanting kids. Upon seeing how absolutely relieved we both were that I was not pregnant, however, I knew we were for sure on the same page. It made me feel confident about going deeper into this relationship.

About a month later, I gave him the key to my apartment. And although he never really slept at his place anymore after that, he moved in officially a month later. And three months after that, he proposed.

Craig was a man who knew what he wanted—unlike any man I ever dated who would be considered "age-appropriate."  We had a small, stunning, heartfelt wedding a year later. We wrote our own vows and there was a lot of laughter and tears of joy from everyone who witnessed our nuptials. By that point, our ages were the last thing on anyone's mind.

Right after we got married, we moved out of my baggage-filled apartment and officially started fresh. And today, I feel absolutely no difference in our ages—unless I bring up Schneider from One Day at a Time, and let's face it, how often does that surface?

The truth is that my husband has more self-possession and emotional maturity than any man I'd ever been with. Sure, Craig might not know about the rain down in Africa, but he knows about my absolute aversion to bell peppers and how to calm me down when I'm panicking about something silly. And isn't that far more important?

So, don't assume that just because someone is in a different decade of their life than you are, they're not your person. I'm glad I didn't.

And for a very different experience, check out I Married an Older Man. Here's Why I Regret It and I Married a Younger Woman. Here's Why I Regret It.

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Shari Albert
Shari Albert is a writer and actor who lives in New York. Read more
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