I have two questions: First: how young is too young to date for a 40 year old man? The old adage is half my age plus seven. That means 27! Secondly, should I consider dating a Christian woman, or should I just stick to Catholic women?
You bring up two very good questions, ones that I’m sure are on the minds of many single people out there. I’ll give you my thoughts on both and hopefully the rest of the singles out there will offer their opinions.
I’d like to tackle your second question first. In my experience, it is best to have a romantic relationship with someone who has the same spiritual beliefs and values you do. I’m not saying that people of different faiths will necessarily fail at their relationship, but they are starting out their new life with strikes against them.
2 Corinthians 6:14 says:
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? (NASB)
That’s a pretty clear statement that God wants strong marriages that thrive because both spouses have the same belief system.
Marriage is wonderful but it’s tough, too. There are so many things in life that can put stress and strain on a marriage: difficult financial times (which is one of the top causes of divorce), the temptation to view pornography, the temptation to be unfaithful to your spouse, serious illnesses, death of a child, loss of a business, etc.
So when the chips are down and you need to cling to each other for support, having the same belief and value system becomes a big part of the foundation that will keep you strong. If you already don’t agree on your beliefs and values you will be lacking that strength in your foundation.
Contrary to popular opinion, the emotion of love does not conquer all.
But another important reason to date specifically Catholic women is because many times in an “unequally yoked” relationship, one spouse abandons his or her faith for the other’s and you might be tempted to give up the precious gift of your Catholic faith in exchange for something else just to please your spouse. That would be tragic.
As far as your second question is concerned, how young is too young?, I would say it should be taken on a case by case basis, but a good rule of thumb is to stay within 6 or 7 years of each other’s age at the most. This is strictly my opinion, but I believe if there is too much of a difference in age, it invites discord into the relationship instead of strengthening it.
The spouses should have the same level of maturity and their goals and interests should be compatible. She doesn’t have to like your sports and you don’t have to go to the spa with her, but all of your beliefs, values, goals and interests should compliment each other, not divide you.
God may have plans for good marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics or between 40-year-olds and 27-year-olds, and I will leave that up to Him because He always knows best. But the relationships I have witnessed with a huge difference in age tend to have more than their fair share of troubles, more than life would normally bring.
That’s my two cents, my friend. I very much look forward to hearing what other people have to say about the issues.
You can also chime in with your opinion at firstname.lastname@example.org.