Why you shouldn’t write off relationships with an age gap like Lady Kitty Spencer’s

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·4-min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Lady Kitty Spencer and husband Michael Lewis
Lady Kitty Spencer and husband Michael Lewis

So Lady Kitty Spencer got married. The 30-year-old niece of Princess Diana and daughter of Earl Spencer has married South African fashion mogul and billionaire Michael Lewis aged 62. Although the bride has, in the past, given very little away about their romance saying that it’s basically not anyone’s business who she does or doesn’t go out with, there has been endless speculation around the obvious discrepancies in the age of the bride and groom.

The natural assumption about women marrying men who are significantly older than them is that they have “daddy” issues. It’s a well-worn trope; a young impressionable girl who has an absent father (Kitty grew up in South Africa with her mother) is looking for a father figure to take the place of the loving and caring influence from an older man that she never received as a child.

However, I think this is a simplification of these sorts of relationships – it’s not impossible for women to receive considerate care, love and attention from those of a similar age. Men of any age can fall into the “daddy” role and a woman who has an emotional void where that consistent care should have been might well look for it in anyone of any age.

There may well be perils and pitfalls though when someone marries someone much older than themselves. Couples with a large age gap usually have to deal with all sorts of judgments. Spencer is right not to feel she has to justify herself – she could dig herself into a huge hole. And what about Lewis? Might he feel the need to justify marrying someone who was born when he was 32? This is one of the pitfalls – the gossip, the innuendo, the jealousy, the strange looks when people work out the man you’re with is not your father but your lover.

There’s also potential insecurities that can emerge on both sides. What if the woman leaves the ageing man? What if she wants children and he feels a bit too old for that? What if health issues emerge and the younger partner can’t cope?

However there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a man three decades older than yourself. Love is love whatever disguise it comes in. The lure of an older man is not that difficult to fathom. Older men have been on the planet longer. They might be more interesting company, know more about how the world works, have interesting conversations and provide a level of maturity that is attractive to a younger woman. If the older man happens to be successful it might even be more attractive – Spencer will never need to worry about paying a mortgage, running a house or saving up to go for a week’s holiday. But these concerns are not merely about the age gap.

The perils are the same as any couple however there is certainly the fear that as the man ages further, the woman might get bored. It’s one thing marrying a 60 year old when you are 30 but once they are knocking on 80 and you are not yet 50, that might become a problem. There’s also the assumption that the younger woman is only interested in money and status and that the older man is refusing to age or to accept ageing. There’s the “trophy wife” insinuation – older-man-marries-pretty-airhead. There’s also the presumption that the older man isn’t really interested in the younger woman on a cultural and intellectual level. How does it work when one of you is into Tchaikovsky and the other’s more au fait with TikTok?

Maybe there might be a feeling that this type of relationship loses something. What about that heady sensation we all get around First Love, when we are young and carefree and seeing the world as a different place to the one we see when we are a bit more world-weary? Young couples have dreams, some of them seem wild and impossible but they can have a great time trying to follow them. And then there’s the joy of being young and fresh and firm and energetic.

Yet, despite all this, I have seen relationships on both sides work perfectly well. I know female friends who have married men much older than themselves and been perfectly happy. I have female friends who have married men significantly younger than themselves and also been perfectly happy. It’s about being honest. It doesn’t really matter if someone has daddy issues or mummy issues – we all have issues. It’s about working them through. The most successful age-gap relationships I know of work well because this issue is acknowledged in all its triumphs and difficulties. A younger man with an older woman might well accept the fact that the reality is they won’t have children. A younger woman with an older man might well take up the mantle of caring as her husband grows older. But, with honesty, communication and a deep sense of respect, these relationships can work as well as any other.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting