INDIANAPOLIS, In. (NNPA)–At first glance, Gil and Marcia Lomax appear to be the ideal happy couple.
Those who meet them will see that they enjoy spending quality time together and are protective of each other.
“We truly enjoy each other, whether we’re having dinner, enjoying a movie, traveling or just spending time at home,” Marcia said.
What may not be immediately apparent is the spread between their ages. Gil is a forward-thinking 24-year-old who seems wise beyond his years, and Marcia is an energetic and lively 37.
Gil and Marcia Lomax represent a growing number of couples, locally and nationally, that include a younger man in a dating or marriage relationship with a woman who is several years older.
This arrangement is often referred to in popular culture as a “cougar” scenario, where an independent, stable woman either seeks or agrees to date a man at least five years younger than she is.
The Lomaxes first met at Light of the World Christian Church at a time when Gil was a teenager and Marcia served as a volunteer with the congregation’s youth ministry. They did not interact, but knew of each other.
Gil moved to Philadelphia with his family, but nine years later, after graduating from high school, he returned to Indianapolis, found employment and began attending Light of the World again. Marcia was one of the few familiar faces still there.
After enjoying dinner one evening, Gil and Marcia began a friendship, since both were in relationships at the time. They decided to live as roommates following a dispute between Gil and his stepfather, and a burglary that frightened Marcia.
“We originally didn’t see each other as more than friends because of the age difference,” Gil said, laughing. “Both of our relationships ended, then as time went on people started asking, ‘are you together?’ We would tell them we were just friends and they would say, ‘yeah right, we know what ya’ll do.’ But we really were just friends.”
However, Gil and Marcia realized they truly enjoyed each other’s company, and decided to start a dating relationship, despite initial concern from some of Marcia’s family members about the age difference.
“God placed it upon my spirit that we belonged together and that she is my wife, and that’s when I proposed,” Gil said. “Those who doubted came to see that our love is real.”
They have been married for nearly two years now.
When asked what makes Marcia attractive to him, Gil described her as a person who has a big heart, is beautiful and very compassionate.
“I wasn’t purposely looking for an older woman, but Marcia, since she is older, she knows what she wants, and she doesn’t play any games,” he said. “An older woman is not about games involving other men, having variety like a young person. She is into that one man and wants to build something with him.”
For Marcia, she admires Gil as someone who is strong, loving and kind.
“The main thing about Gil is that I know he loves me, puts me first and protects me,” she said. “He prays and keeps everything going in the house. If I’m upset he will get to the bottom of what is causing it. He is a lot more mature than many men in his age group. I didn’t want someone whose mindset is too old, and Gil is mature but still has the mindset and energy of someone in their 20’s in terms of having fun and trying new things.”
For generations, tradition has dictated that for relationships, men seek women who are younger, and women look for men who are somewhat older. For this reason, it has not been unusual to see a man in a relationship with a younger woman.
This, sociologists say, might stem from the long-held notion that men should have the life experience, maturity, security and stability to take care of a woman when she leaves her mother and father.
“That might be fine and dandy if you’re in high school and have this fairy tale Prince Charming. But when you look at adult women, most self-sufficient and they don’t have to look for that,” said Sandra Caron, a professor of family relations and human sexuality at the University of Maine, who conducted a landmark study on the topic and discovered changing attitudes about age differences in society.
For an increasing number of professional men and women, the older woman and younger man scenario is becoming reality. It has become common enough for the development of dating sites such as Black Age Gap, which is dedicated specifically to African-American clients seeking a partner with an age difference.
In the celebrity arena, more younger man/older woman dating and marriage couples have proudly emerged, including Nick Cannon and Mariah Carey, Madonna and Jesus Luz, Pam Grier and Kevin Evans and Tina Turner and Erwin Bach.
What are some of the reasons behind this social shift?
In her study of eight couples, Caron found that the women enjoyed the vitality of the younger men, and the men liked the maturity and confidence in the women.
She also added that there are changing relationship conventions, particularly among female baby boomers, who are faced with the tightest “marriage squeeze,” the smallest pool of compatible men as conventionally defined, those two to three years older, of similar background and higher levels of education and income.
In her research, Caron also found that women 35 to 50 are much more open to younger men and having a relationship with someone of another race, religion or socioeconomic status, compared to women 20 to 25.
MyBrotha.com, a popular online discussion page for African-American men, asked participants in a survey what they liked about older women, and reported, “most men say their decisions are based on the need to avoid such trivial issues like mind-games and youth indecisiveness. But the main reason they seek partnerships with older women is their openness and self-expression, better maturity and higher self-esteem.”
Further, the post added, “The attraction goes beyond social taboos such as men looking for mother figures, or women looking for “mama’s boys” – both of which can be achieved no matter the age difference.”
Some observers, when it comes to couples with an age difference, may wonder what place children may have in the relationship.
For the Lomaxes, their concentration has currently been on keeping their relationship strong and expanding the counseling enterprise, Lomax Counseling Services, LLC., that they have developed together.
“We are already family, but it’s a possibility and we have talked about it,” Marcia said. “It is up in the air right now because we are loving being childless and independent. However we will see what happens in a couple of years.”
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