Sunday, April 7, 2013

Mind the Gap (between generations)

Most days, I don't notice the 13 year age difference with the person I've been seeing, but some days I feel like he must have been transported in time from the dinosaur era.  I have to remind myself that this 1950's baby, who is now in his 50's, was brought up during a time where a man's primary job was to be a good provider.  The fact that he actually pitches in with cooking, cleaning,and some child-raising is rather remarkable, although something most of my GenX peers would expect in their partners. 

There are 3 areas where we seem to have some recurring conflicts of interest, and although none of these are insurmountable, they do require some recognition of our age differences coming into play:

1. Emotional Awareness- Sadly, few if any of the baby boomer men were taught to be emotionally available to their partners-- instead, men were bred to be rocks.  Now don't get me wrong-- having a rock is awesome, but if you require a deep emotional connection with your partner, you may need to exercise some patience while breaking down some bad habits (like bottling things up or trying to bury feelings) and instead learning to create a safe place to talk about concerns and feelings without passing judgments.   Learning how to fight well is never easy, but it is extra hard when you have to try and shift the paradigm by which someone's viewed the world for several decades.

2. Power Battles- Try to keep in mind that men from the baby boomer generation often were raised by stay-at-home mothers, with few divorces and blended family situations back then.  Unlike today where women hold leadership roles in various fields, back then men held ALL the power.  Knowing that boys generally want to emulate their dads, you can easily see then how a baby boomer male may have a really hard time dealing with a fiery, opinionated, and uber independant GenXer that doesn't back down.  It's not so much about intentionally seeking to be dominant, but for an old school guy it may be a shift to truly respect and see a woman as an equal.

3.Stages of Life- I grapple with this one a lot.  Aside from the difference in our energy levels, my focus is still on building my career and getting my son ready for college in 9 years.  At the same time, I want us to enjoy life, and retirement is just not even on my radar.  Meanwhile, the person I've been seeing is much closer to being an empty nester, and he is very focused on retirement and savings.  His worries are so vastly different from mine, and I have to be senstive to this whenever we have financial discussions and make major life decisions.

In the end, I really do enjoy being with someone who sees things differently, and who brings a different skill set to the table, but the generation gap definitely adds a whole new set of challenges to our relationship.  As many of my girlfriends know, I continue to recommend that some GenXers look to older guys as companions, for they are a bit more mellowed out and usually less obsessed with the rat race, but if you do date someone a decade or so older and you want it to last, you need to be cognizant of the 3 key points mentioned above and mind the generation gap.   

No comments:

Post a Comment