HAPPY TOGETHER: Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones.
HAPPY TOGETHER: Michael Douglas and his wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. DAVE ALLOCCAAP

How you can beat the age gap

MICHAEL Douglas and wife Catherine Zeta-Jones. Demi Moore and her younger beau Ashton Kutcher. Playboy mogul Hugh Hefner and his vast collection of girlfriends.

Although sometimes for the wrong reasons, we are often fascinated by the sizeable age differences between Hollywood's most famous couples, and are quick to coin celebs "cougars"; or "manthers";.

But when it comes to our own romantic relationships, how old is too old?

Positive Life Counselling Queensland founder Lyn McDonald said society still believed in couples belonging to the same respective age groups.

The Maleny-based counsellor also said she believed a gap of more than 10 years was too big an age difference because relationships might start to function in ways where the younger men and women sought out "motherly"; or "fatherly"; roles in their partners.

"People are brought up believing you can grow with someone, walk through life with that special person, have children and experience the same things together,"; Ms McDonald said.

"If you have an older man looking to settle down with a younger woman, or older woman with a younger man, then it could pose problems.

"It's different with generation gaps, with different levels of maturity in the relationship, and both individuals being at entirely different places in each other's lives.";

Yet despite these insights, Ms McDonald maintained society's perceptions on marriages and relationships with greater age differences now tended to be more accepting.

She said the important thing for couples to remember was to be happy with their life choices.

"It could just be two individuals just wanting to have fun, and if it works for them, why not?"; Ms McDonald said.

"If you're happy in your decisions, go for it, because you don't want to have any regrets.";

Maroochydore's Kristy Muir, 23, spoke fondly of her on-and-off relationship with a 40-year-old man for the past six years.

"He felt like he had the role as a teacher, but at the same time I felt like I brought a lot to the relationship and that I could teach him a lot,"; she said.

"He's very black and white, while I'm lots of colours and shades.";

However, Ms Muir admitted the 17-year age gap posed a problem for the couple, who were now just friends.

"It's quite possibly because of the age difference that we were never on equal grounds,"; Ms Muir said.

"A lot of his friends weren't supportive of the relationship, though my friends were because they knew how I felt. But I think you both have to be okay with the age difference to make it work.";

Though Ms Muir agreed people wanting a relationship with someone outside their own age bracket was becoming more acceptable in society, she believed real acceptance started closer to home.

"It just comes down to the individuals, their families and friends, and how their whole life pretty much slots into each other's,"; she said.

For Sunshine Coast marriage celebrant Darienne Davis, couples looking to tie the knot who were happy and comfortable in their own skin could overcome the age-gap stigma.

"As long as they go in with the right attitude, it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks,"; she said.

She was certain more people were willing to embrace the idea couples were marrying for only one reason: each other.

"Some people just want to have a companion and sometimes that person is older than them,"; she said.

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