I met my now-fiancé when I was freelancing for a company.
Since he's 17 years older than me, he's planning for retirement and saving for the long term.
Because I'm at the start of my career, I'm more focused on traveling and short-term goals.
Marrying a remote colleague from Idaho who's 17 years older than me was never on my 29-year-old to-do list — but then again, most things in life aren't.
My fiancé, Collin, and I met at work. He was a senior strategy consultant for a Nashville marketing firm where I was brought on as a freelance writer. We'd met in person only once.
After seven months of working together, he boldly texted me upon learning that my 10-year relationship had ended less than a week prior. About a month later, he flew across the country from Boise to the South Carolina coast for a first date, and the rest is history.
Less than two years after meeting virtually, we live together in Charleston, South Carolina, happily engaged and planning to tie the knot in the fall. While we know our relationship will stand the test of time, we aren't oblivious to the challenges that come with age-gap relationships — especially those relating to career trajectories and finances.
We are in 2 different life and career stages
Having graduated from college less than seven years ago, I'm still nailing down exactly what I'm after in my career. I'm two years into running a small freelance-writing business and soaking up every lesson I can.
Meanwhile, Collin is 46 and hopes to retire in less than 20 years, ideally at 55 or 60. He's hyperfocused on saving for retirement, while setting aside retirement funds is — naively — the last thing on my mind.
According to Rob DeLucas, a certified financial planner and the owner of Afton Advisors, one of the biggest financial challenges age-gap couples face is planning for a staggered retirement.
"A lot of times, I feel like those conversations haven't been had before couples meet with me, or they've maybe been swept under the rug," DeLucas told me. "There should be a reasonable expectation that one spouse may have 20 to 30 years left within their life after the older spouse passes."
He added: "The biggest thing is being open and honest."
These conversations aren't easy to have, but DeLucas underlined the point that we had additional things to consider when planning for the future because of our age gap, including Collin's health as we age, inflation, and our individual expectations around our retirement lifestyle.
We also have varying financial goals
We're finding that financial priorities also differ between one's late 20s and mid-40s. For example, my bucket list involves travel and seeing the world. Since Collin has already passed that "wild and free" chapter of life, he's more focused on helping his aging mother pay off her house expenses and spending on things to help maintain his physical shape, such as cycling.
Because we each place financial importance in different areas, we have to be extra careful about making assumptions regarding where our combined income will be going. This requires intentional, two-way conversations where we explicitly ask each other about our personal and short- and long-term goals. We then make a plan for how we can allocate our money to achieve both of our dreams.
When we had this conversation at the beginning of this year, I found out that one of Collin's biggest financial goals was to pay for a teen's college tuition because his was paid for by someone else.
We also take the timing of our financial goals into consideration. For example, Collin worries about his ability to keep up with me in the future when it comes to being active. Since I've always wanted to hike some of the country's largest national parks, we're prioritizing that goal this year, as we're aware it may not be an option to experience together as we age.
The power of dialogue
According to both DeLucas and my fiancé, communication is the common thread for making a relationship with varying life stages and aspirations work. Every relationship requires sacrifice and compromise, and ours is no different.
While it may seem like we have a lot of differences, I know that Collin and I align best on the things that matter most: commitment, love, service, humility, and empathy. There are a lot of things about our love that just make sense — despite how it may sound on paper.
When it comes to advice we have for other couples far apart in age, I think Collin put it best when he told me: "Be open to learning from each other. It's a relationship because it has the word 'relate' in it. Talk about everything, and love deeply. Every day is a gift — even more so when there's an age gap."
Kelsey Herbers is a freelance marketing writer and journalist in Charleston, South Carolina. Connect on LinkedIn.
Read the original article on Business Insider