I am a thirty-six-year-old single woman. I am not married and have no children…. Two years ago I fell in love with someone who is younger than I. He is twenty-five years old…. I am concerned about the age difference. He says he loves me, that he’s very aware of the age difference, and that it doesn’t bother him at all. But it does bother me, and now he has asked me to marry him. What should I do?

Dear Friend,

It is very wise for anyone to carefully consider all of the characteristics of the other person before agreeing to marriage. Many people, especially those who are afraid of never getting married, and especially women, tend to overlook extremely important character traits and emotional issues in the prospective spouse. Fear of being alone can cause a perfectly rational person to make decisions based on that fear instead of on logic.

But some might say that love is an emotion and is not logical. Yes, that is true. But agreeing to marry is an action, not an emotion, and actions should never be based on emotion alone. Just because you love someone does not mean that you should ignore evidence that is factual, reasonable, and logical.

Both men and women throughout history have done stupid things because of their misguided ideas of love. The most common mistake is to engage in sexual relations before being married. That mistake has doomed countless unwanted children into situations where there is no loving home to welcome them, and statistically, they are very likely to live in poverty.

Agreeing to marry someone is a life-changing decision that requires much more than the emotion of love. How does the person handle money? Is he in debt? Has she ruined her financial record through excessive spending? How does he treat his family and friends? How does her family treat you? Are there any explanations of family problems that don’t seem to add up?

Is the prospective spouse a hard worker? What does he do for fun? How does she react when she is angry or depressed? Does he have plans to go back to college? Does she want to have a job outside of the home after children are born? How many children does he want? How does she plan to discipline the children? Where does he want the children to go to church? What kind of music does she like? How much does he watch television or play video games? Does she get jealous easily? Does he use pornography?

Most importantly, does the prospective spouse have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ that can be seen in his or her attitudes, actions, and self-control? Are prayer and Bible reading an important part of his or her life? Is he or she concerned about following the example of Christ in relationships with others?

All of these questions are much more important than age. A ten-year difference in age will bring challenges, but if all the other questions have positive answers, then age should not be a high priority.

We wish you well,