Tired of people’s judgment, Jeffrey Oberman wrote an article on HuffPost to set the record straight.  His wife, Alex, is 40 years younger than him, but they do not have a “transactional” marriage. Instead, they connected over their shared passions and values. But when people meet them they assume the worst.
According to Oberman’s post, he met Alex over a Facebook animal rescue page. He had adopted eight stray dogs into his home in the Dominican Republic. At that point, he had been divorced for over three years and his children were independent adults. He found Alex’s post and sent her a message. She was 20 at the time and living in the United States. Still, they messaged back and forth until they had phone conversations lasting hours into the night.
Jeffrey and Alex Meet for the First Time
One day, Jeffrey invited Alex to visit him in the Dominican Republic. Alex’s mother, who is 10 years younger than him, wasn’t so eager to let her daughter make the trip. But after looking him up online, she allowed it. But she and Alex created a safe word “pumpernickel” in preparation for a worst-case scenario.
So, a few months after meeting on Facebook, Alex visited the Dominican Republic and stayed for about a year. Then they got married. “By the time we exchanged our vows, we had experienced for some time the social discomfort that our union appeared to cause others,” Oberman wrote. “My friends, and hers as well, questioned the sanity of our choice to commit to each other. My children ― educated, liberal intellectuals ― did not know how to process the fact that they were both at least six years older than their father’s new bride.”
But most of all, Jeffrey and Alex hated that people assumed they were in a transactional relationship, where the older man provides the money and the younger woman provides the intercourse. But this was not true for them. In fact, Alex came from a family of means and already earned her own money competing in horse-jump competitions. Plus, she got a full scholarship at the Savannah College of Art and Design and became an accomplished painter. “In my case, after years of an unhappy marriage, what I needed was not sex but intimacy and nurturing. The notion of trading away my future happiness for a roll in the hay was an affront to my emotional needs.”
“We are still ostracized as a couple”
At the time, Jeffrey began to focus on his writing and his and Alex’s love of the arts bonded them. “And yet we are still ostracized as a couple. What the outside world sees is not the passion of two creative spirits joined at the heart on a voyage of discovery and growth, but the bleak realities of a transactional relationship.”
In short, Jeffrey is seen as a predator, and Alex is seen as naive and stupid, which he finds insulting after she completed two years of university while in high school, studied arts and organic chemistry on scholarships, and is a MENSA genius.
Out in public, people assume Alex is his daughter and scrutinize them when they claim to be married. But the two have worked on ignoring these incidents instead of fretting about the opinions of strangers. They plan on proving them wrong by simply continuing their relationship and allowing their longevity to speak for itself.
For instance, despite Jeffrey’s need for orderliness, he doesn’t see a mess when Alex leaves her art supplies out “but the subtle fingerprints of the artistic angel who, in her own unique fashion, has found a way to take me from my stressed-out obsessions to a place of tranquil peace.”
She’s also a vegetarian out of her love for animals, which has influenced Jeffrey to reflect on his own eating habits and how his actions connect to the world.
“Alex has made me more empathetic, more understanding, and more generous of spirit. What she has done ― after my lifetime of living the life of the narcissistic predator ― is make me more human. In my previous relationships, my significant others made me love them; Alex has taught me to love myself. And for that, I love her even more.”
Can Relationships With Age Gaps Work?
Despite all of the social disapproval, some studies found there’s a high amount of relationship satisfaction reported by couples with large age gaps. Plus, some break up because of the pressure of the community rather than issues in their own relationship. Since an age gap means the partners are in different stages of life, some couples struggle with reconciling the different needs and goals that come with them. But good relationships depend on commitment, trust, communication, and support. While age gaps can bring about some unique challenges, the ages don’t determine the success of the relationship. Still, there are only 8% of couples with age gaps larger than ten years in Western countries. While the relationship technically can work, they are not common.