Jenny Reynolds, 33, a public sector accounts manager at an energy firm, lives with husband Paul, 64, a trade union official, in Kent. Jenny has a daughter Abigail, 15, who lives with them while Paul has five grown-up children. Here, Jenny explains why the 30-year age gap works for them, despite some adverse reactions from others.
Sometimes when I’m at work on a Friday, I’ll look around at all the young people in their 20s and 30s talking about going out at the weekend and having fun with their friends and I’ll smile. While I’m happy for them and hope they’re having a good time, I know that it’s the last thing I’d want.
Instead, I’m content to go home to my new husband, Paul, and my daughter Abigail, cook a lovely meal and maybe plan our next holiday. It’s the happiest I’ve ever been – and the fact that Paul is in his mid-sixties and more than double my age never even enters my mind.
Paul and I met about six years ago when I was working in a supermarket and he was recruiting members for his trade union. Confident and outgoing, I was attracted to him immediately. I can’t recall how we got talking but we realised we had quite a lot of interests in common – photography for instance – and we decided to have lunch together.
Dating older men
Paul says that I told him at that lunch that I 'liked older men' but I don’t remember doing that! But maybe I did. Since splitting up with Abigail’s father in my early twenties because we were both too young to be settling down, I had always dated older men – they’re more confident, more worldly, cultured and gentlemanly. I could have adult conversations with him, whereas I often felt like I was the 'grown-up' with younger men. Paul is so laid-back but very passionate and we both share the same political beliefs and interests. We found we could chat for hours.
My own mother was 15 years younger than my father – I think having an older dad probably has a lot to do with my views on older men.
My own mother was 15 years younger than my father and I had always hung around with their friends so I was used to being around older people and they treated me as equals. I think having an older dad probably has a lot to do with my views on older men. He’s always been so dependable, financially secure and great with advice.
Moving in together
Paul told me very early on that he had five children and had been married three times which might be a red flag for some women but it didn’t put me off at all. He’d been in the army and that kind of career isn’t conducive to many successful relationships so he clearly hadn’t found 'The One'.
When he invited me out for a date at the pub we hit it off and could barely stop talking. We shared a kiss that night and I knew this wasn’t just a fling but was going to be something special.
Within months, we had moved in together. I can honestly say it’s the best thing we ever did even though there were the usual teething troubles. I had never lived with a man before so it was probably harder for me having to suddenly share my space with someone.
Paul has brought up five children already and perhaps because he’s older, he has a calmness and wisdom about him that my daughter really appreciates.
I couldn’t believe how many clothes he had! We even had to go and buy a huge wardrobe just for his stuff. But he settled in very easily. Cooking is my passion and so I love making his meals. He’s even become vegetarian like me.
Of course, as a single mother with a young daughter I was always wary of introducing new men to Abigail but she thought Paul was wonderful from the start. If anything, I think he’s a better parent than I am. He’s brought up five children already and perhaps because he’s older, he has a calmness and wisdom about him that Abigail really appreciates. I get more emotional about her problems so she tends to go to Paul if she gets in trouble or needs help.
But our relationship hasn’t always been received so smoothly. Some friends of my own age really seemed to have a problem with the fact that he was that much older than me and it got to the point where I simply stopped speaking to them. Although I have a couple of really close friends who are my own age now, Paul and I tend to mix with friends who are in couples and who vary in age. Occasionally Paul and I will get mistaken as ‘father and daughter’ but we laugh it off and it’s always the other people we feel embarrassed for.
Occasionally Paul and I will get mistaken as ‘father and daughter’ but we laugh it off and it’s always the other people we feel embarrassed for.
My own family were very accepting of our relationship. In fact, I think my father was quite grateful that I found Paul when I did because I’d lost my mum only a couple of years earlier and was devastated so this new relationship helped to heal my broken heart.
I’d been quite lonely and had been struggling a lot. Although Dad is only a few years older than Paul and they don’t really have much in common, they get on well and Dad can see that Paul loves his new little family.
A couple of years ago, Paul proposed to me when we were on holiday in Disneyland and of course I said yes and he gave me a diamond ring but with such busy lives we never got round to doing anything about it.
But then last year Paul had a cancer scare – thankfully he’s ok now. I think we both realised that time is short and we wanted to make things permanent. Within 28 days, we had arranged a wedding and we invited 20 of our closest friends to a registry office for a very intimate wedding before heading up to our other house in Edinburgh and spending a few days there together.
Living in the moment
Paul has had a few health scares in the time we’ve been together though thankfully he’s healthy now but people ask if I worry about the length of time we’ll have together when there is such a large age gap. After all, when I’m 45 he’ll be in his late 70s. We don’t know how much time we’ll have together.
But I can honestly say I don’t worry. My own mum – who was so much younger than my dad – died at only 58 years old so you never really know what’s around the corner and you have to live each moment as it comes along. As for having more children, I never wanted more than one and Paul has five and has had the 'snip' anyway so it’s off the cards. But we’re both content with each others’ company.
People ask if I worry about the length of time we’ll have together when there is such a large age gap between us.
We absolutely love travelling together and have been to Italy, Spain, Morocco, France, Poland. If it’s during school time, Abigail stays here in the UK with my dad and Paul and I will go off on our adventures. We know that we are both getting older so want to be able to see as much of the world as possible while we’re young, fit and healthy.
People ask me if I regret anything about the age difference and I can honestly say there really is no downside. As an older man, he’s wise and considerate and so generous with his time, even as a stepfather to Abigail. I’m not sure a younger man would be quite so patient and it’s just one of the many, many reasons I love him.