Sienna Miller is fourteen years older than her partner and age-gaps this way around are becoming less unusual. Shovorne Adams, who herself has a younger husband, asks if women marrying younger men can finally shake off the ‘cougar’ slur.

sienna and oli green

Source: Abaca Press / Alamy Stock Photo

Now, I’ll be transparent: my husband is significantly (ten years) younger than me. 

There has been criticism of couples who don’t have a conventional age gap but instead have a significant one, and much of that criticism is aimed at women. If we’re younger, we’re gold-diggers looking for money, security, or a father figure, not love. If we’re older, we’re labelled ugly names, cougar or ‘mutton-dressed-as-lamb’ looking for a one-night stand and not love.

Well, it’s 2024, and society can keep its woman-shaming attitudes to itself because we won’t stand for it, and neither do we care as long as we’re happy in our marriages. 

In fact, many are joining us; trends in dating apps show an increase in age-gap relationships, and according to British Vogue magazine, “We are at a tipping point when it comes to normalising age-gap relationships – specifically those in which the woman is older”.

“We are at a tipping point when it comes to normalising age-gap relationships – specifically those in which the woman is older”.

Recently, it’s been quite ordinary in my church community to meet couples with an age-gap relationship. A pastor shared a story of her grandma being 13 years older than her grandfather. I asked how that worked out. She said the couple had a happy, long marriage, and despite the wife being older, she still outlived her husband. I’m not sure why that made me chuckle, but it did.

So, what’s an acceptable age gap? A quick Google search will find general rules for age-gap relationships, some stating that a 10-year difference is appropriate; the other popular rule is the “half your age plus seven rule.”

I asked a friend in her early sixties if she’d marry with a significant age gap. She said, “Of course I would. I see no issues with an age-gap relationship. Maybe up to 10 years younger.”

Stats show there have been more men on earth than women since the 1960s, so there’s no shortage of men; they just aren’t in church.

Stats show there have been more men on earth than women since the 1960s, so there’s no shortage of men; they just aren’t in church. I’ve helped my friend with multiple events for Christian singles over the years and even ran my own, and there are always more women than men. The gender imbalance in the church glares at us every Sunday, and Annabel Wheeldon-Clarke wonderfully walks us through the why, the what and the solution here.

When asked if I thought age-gap relationships were another solution to gender imbalance in church, I couldn’t see the correlation. Do we need more men in the church? Yes - regardless of age, and not because we want more marriages, but because they need to know Jesus.

If we desire to fix the gender imbalance because there is a shortage of Christian husbands, we’ll have women bringing men to church for selfish reasons and men pretending to be churched for selfish reasons.

Should singles widen the age range they’re willing to date in the church? Maybe some could allow more flexibility regarding their preferred dating age range.

Have you seen “Pop a Balloon or Find Love”? In this dating show, single men line up with a red balloon while a single lady gets to know them. The men pop their balloon if it’s a ‘no’ and keep them if it’s a ‘yes’. Ultimately, the woman can then choose to date one of the men still holding an un-popped balloon at the end of the game. In one episode, you can see where age barriers prohibit a young lady named Shilo from getting a date with a guy that you can tell she likes.

She’s 35 and clarified that she wouldn’t date anyone younger; they must be her age. But then she meets David. It’s so clear she is attracted to him. He’s tall, looks the same age or older than her, he’s educated, well established in his career with seemingly good family values and guess what? You got it. He’s five years younger. Suddenly, Shilo decides she is willing to date someone younger. Then I realised that it wasn’t that she didn’t want to date someone younger, but instead, she didn’t want to date someone who looked or behaved younger.

And here’s the twist; Shilo decides she’d be willing to date David, but he won’t date her based on what his family thinks about the age gap.

I stepped into the season of wanting to settle down with a mindset similar to Shilo’s. When it came to age, I decided he must be my exact age, give or take a year. So, I had some hesitations about dating my husband. Initially, I asked questions like ‘What will people think?’

Before dating, we worked together in church, shared an office and became best friends. When I joked about someone creating an older replica of him for me, a pastoral friend reminded me that there was and will only ever be one of him. I asked my mum her thoughts. She’s my best friend and has been a devout follower of Christ for as long as I can remember. She said she had zero concerns about him. It wasn’t about his age for her, but his character and she knew us well enough to know we were the perfect match. I asked myself all the critical questions and quickly overcame the worries about the age gap. Next month will be our 7th wedding anniversary.

My grandparents married young, with a seven-year age gap. They had five children, a wonderful home with a black picket fence, and incredible dynamics. My grandfather will be 99 years old this month. He doted on my grandmother until her dying day. You can see in his eyes he misses his best friend every day.

’People marry for different reasons’, he said. “Some for wealth, some for status and some for love. You have to ask yourself why you are getting married and why to this person. Make sure the forever connection is right for you both. Among all the important things, age is not the most important thing. 

Shovorne and her husband

Shorvone and her husband