Steph & Dom solve your sex, love & life troubles

Steph & Dom solve your sex, love & life troubles: Our age gap was irrelevant – until he turned 70

  • An anonymous reader asked TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for marital advice
  • She fears the 15 years age gap with her husband could make her a carer for life
  • Steph advises the reader to think practically of getting caring help if needed

 TV’s Steph and Dom Parker, 51 and 53, draw on their 20 years of marriage to solve your relationship problems…

Q: I’ve been married to my husband for almost two decades. We have an age gap of 15 years. It never used to bother me, but we just celebrated his 70th and suddenly the gap feels huge. It doesn’t help that I’m caring for my dad, who is 82 with dementia. I’ve found it all so difficult — it’s completely taken over my life. Then it hit me: soon I might have to do the same for my husband. I can’t bear the idea of spending the rest of my life as a carer. I have such an awful feeling of dread. Help!

Steph says: Initially, your letter made me quite cross. You’ve been married for almost 20 years. This is not some fleeting fling. This is your husband you’re talking about, your life partner and you vowed ‘in sickness and in health’ — it’s important to be true to your vows. You don’t get to change the rules when it begins to get tough! And it’s not like your age gap is news, is it? You both accepted it years ago.

But. After taking a deep breath, I think there’s more to this than meets the eye. I think you’re scared.

An anonymous reader asked TV’s Steph and Dom Parker for their advice on managing the 15 years age gap in their marriage as they age (file image)

First things first. Know that it’s ok to get the collywobbles from time to time. We all do. You’re caring for your dad. It’s what we do (or it’s what we should all do). But nobody ever said it was easy.

It is challenging. Really challenging. And it is a burden. But it’s one you should not shirk. I sat next to someone at dinner recently and he told me his mother had recently died. He told me that it had been an absolute privilege to care for her, and it made me cry. He clearly felt very deeply that caring for her like she had cared for him had been a crucial time in his life.

You’re doing the right thing for your dad, but it may well be colouring the way you view the other areas in your life.

I think you’re terrified of losing your husband. You need to acknowledge that what you’re feeling is fear — then get on top of it. Believe me, I know how difficult it can be to be a carer. As the mother of a disabled child, I say that, yes, it can be very testing on your patience, but there is help out there. To stop feeling overwhelmed by all these possibilities, get practical. Ask yourself how you will cope with various scenarios, do some research and make a plan.

Everything in life is rooted in either fear or love — this is right in the middle of both. You’re scared, lonely and ashamed. You know you shouldn’t feel as you do. Love, after all, is unconditional. It’s time to find your strength and use it. You’re more than capable of coping if you have to. But — and here’s the good news — you might never have to! Be a grown-up and get ready for the future. And remember, 70 is the new 60 — hopefully you’ve got a very long time before any of this need cross your mind again.

Dom says: It must be difficult to look after your father and I understand how it could destabilise you, but your fears concern me greatly.

The thing is, 15 years really isn’t a yawning gap. And it worries me that you’re suddenly feeling so much younger than your husband — after all, your age gap hasn’t got any bigger! Nothing has changed. Except, perhaps, your feelings.

Dom and Steph (pictured) advised the reader to make the most of the good times she currently has with her husband and be practical about seeking help in the future if needed

The fact you’re in a quandary makes me question your devotion to your husband. I know that if my wife were 15, 20, 30 years older than me, it wouldn’t make the blindest bit of difference. Should anything ever happen to Steph, I’m fully prepared to care for her and I say that with no illusions about how hard it would be.

But that’s not how you see it. And I’m worried it means you don’t truly love your husband. In all relationships, at some stage, one of you tips into old age before the other. I’m disappointed that it’s taken you so long to realise something you’ve known all along — your husband is older than you.

You are only 15 years apart, and you have no idea what might happen in the future. I know some very active 90-year-olds and some doddery 70-somethings. Just because you’re the younger one does not mean you won’t be the one who needs looking after!

You’ve spent the best part of two decades enjoying your husband — an older man often brings many benefits to a relationship such as emotional maturity and wisdom (not to mention financial security).

I really do think it’s off of you to want to waltz away as soon as there are too many candles on the cake! However, if that’s what you really want to do, then so be it. But are you sure you want to ruin your husband’s life?

Might this be a reaction to the stress of caring for your father? If so, I’d urge you to consider the fact your husband is not your father. There is nothing to say their experiences of getting old will be the same. And even were they to be so, you may find it is not so hard to care for your husband. You love your father and husband differently, after all.

My advice is to spend as much of a good time with your husband as you can now, knowing that it’s possible that there might be difficult days on the horizon, but also remembering that you do not have a crystal ball — it may well be smooth sailing ahead.

If you have a question you’d like Steph and Dom to tackle, write to [email protected]

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