Annalisa regrets she cannot enter into personal correspondence. Some things will never change, and we accept that. Just the thought of seeing someone else makes me feel sick and anxious. But what could be wrong about two people in love, happily married and bringing up their son? To anyone who sees us together, it is very obvious how deeply in love we are. When Young met my mother for the first time, less than a year earlier, he told her we were having fun but that there would be "no cottage, no marriage, and certainly no babies". We had only changed the chaplain's suggested wording in one way — instead of "Until death do us part" we said "For as long as we both shall live". To those on the outside, there are many disadvantages to our relationship. We dated for six months before moving in together and several nights a week we would linger over dinner, drinking wine, talking about all the reasons we shouldn't commit to each other. Of course we've thought about the future, of course we know things won't always be as easy and fun as they are now, and of course we realise that we look a little odd when we go out. It is a standing joke between us that because of those six months there is no good restaurant in Edinburgh I haven't cried in. It felt as if we had come a very long way, very quickly. The possibility of my husband becoming ill and incapacitated at a stage where I want to be active and travel also weighs heavily on my mind.
But why the urgency in either committing or walking away? My father, who is relieved to be older than my husband, if only by six months, gave a moving speech, noting that even before I'd told him about Young he knew there was someone special in my life because every time we spoke on the phone I had "bubbles in my voice". Young lives up to his name and has more energy and drive than most people — he often jokes that my maturity and his immaturity mean we meet somewhere in the middle and are just like an ordinary couple in their 40s. How would our child cope if his daddy's health declined? If we were serious about making things work in the longer term, we had to persuade our family and friends that this was the real deal and we couldn't do that without believing it ourselves. Our post-engagement anxiety was short-lived and seven months later, friends and family surrounded us for our wedding day. We were determined that our marriage should reflect our general attitude towards life, and we wanted to emphasise the positives. What if he or she were bullied at school because dad looked like grandpa? While I am not particularly worried about my children having an older father my siblings and I did , the thought of being a widow for plus years terrifies me. Unlikely as it seems, there are advantages to a relationship with a big age difference too. Sometimes the most proactive thing you can do is … nothing. Our son, Tom, arrived around 18 months later and having a child has made our "live for the moment" philosophy even more pertinent. We have discussed these issues openly and at length, and have made multiple attempts to pull away from each other. Knowing we will never celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary means that we don't have time to waste. My two boys love each other so dearly and when I was struggling in the early days of motherhood, it was seeing their love for each other that helped me come to terms with our new life. They saw my tears, our first, nervous kisses and the intense, emotional conversations that lasted long into the night. He also happens to be 35 years older than me and 60 years older than our son. I feel this needs further exploration, because if you are prone to anxiety, you will find something to catastrophise about in any relationship you go into. We were both very strong, independent people with interesting things going on in our lives. How would I manage if I ended up being a carer for my child and husband? When Young began his vows, we locked eyes and the only way I got through mine without wobbling was by holding his gaze. His current stance is that he would be happy if he lived to 95, which is another 33 years. Just the thought of seeing someone else makes me feel sick and anxious. I worry you are looking for resilience outside of yourself. It is tough, when you are giddily falling in love, to stand back and really examine your relationship with objective eyes, but we knew we had to. I'm not sure that's quite accurate, we are a good balance in terms of our personalities and bring out the best in each other.
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