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A woman insists that her 27-year age gap with her husband makes him a ‘better dad’ thanks to his ‘mature age’ - despite strangers mistaking him for their baby’s grandad.
Gretchen Dillon, 36, from Syracuse, New York, preferred to date women before she locked eyes with Michael Dillon, 63, in her local grocery store in October 2014.
Striking up a friendship, the pair soon realized their romantic feelings for each other and started dating in May 2015.
Despite the almost three-decade age difference, the pair married in February 2018 and have now welcomed a son together, Shannon, who is six-months-old.
Gretchen doesn’t let judgment hold her back, despite people often thinking Michael is her dad and their son’s grandad.
Gretchen Dillon, 36, met her husband Michael, 63, in 2014 in Syracuse, New York. They tied the knot in February 2018, in spite of remarks from Gretchen’s friends warning her she would be a young widow
The couple, who started dating in May 2015, have welcomed a son, named Shannon, who is now six-months-old
Gretchen, a market research analyst, said: ‘People often mistake my husband for my dad – but we laugh it off.
‘Their perceptions quickly change when they get to know Michael and I – they can see we just make sense.
‘My friend tried to stop me marrying him. She kept saying I was going to be a widow because he’s nearly 30 years older than me, but I loved him and didn’t care.
‘I was upset when Michael and I first slept together because in my head I didn’t think I wanted to be with an older man. I took some time and came to terms with it. Now I’m happier than ever.’
The couple tied the knot in 2018 after Michael proposed to Gretchen, left, twice. Gretchen refused his first proposal at Thanksgiving in 2017
After meeting at a gas station outside a grocery store, the pair quickly found themselves bumping into each other around different areas of the store and hit it off.
Gretchen had just moved from Pennsylvania to Syracuse, New York, and was thankful to find a friendly face in Michael, an insurance adjuster.
Michael – who is two years older than Gretchen’s mother – offered Gretchen a free room and job to help run his Airbnb in January 2015 and before long their friendship developed into romance, and they started dating in May that year.
Michael’s friends thought it was odd when he told them he was dating a woman who was 27 years younger than him, but as soon as they met Gretchen, they could see the pair were a great match.
The new parents live a blissful life with six-months-old Shannon, center, but Gretchen admitted people often mistake Michael for their son’s grandfather
‘My friends were equally shocked, but their worries went away when they could see how happy I was,’ Gretchen said.
Michael proposed twice- the first time in front of his family in their home in Washington D.C, during Thanksgiving 2017.
Gretchen said: ‘I told him I didn’t want a big show and I didn’t want a ring- he presented me with a literal diamond rock, not on a ring.
‘I was so upset that he thought he could propose to me on a technicality, I said no on principle in front of his family.
‘I cried the entire next day, we had to talk a lot.
‘He proposed to me the second time in December on a sunrise kayaking trip in Florida, so I accepted.’
After dating for three-and-a-half years, the pair got married in February 2018 and decided to have a baby together.
Michael already counts one child and a step-child from a previous relationship, but was very excited to be a father again
Gretchen said: ‘I did have a friend who tried to put off the wedding saying: “You’re going to be a widow.”
‘I chose to cut her out of my life.’
Gretchen and Michael were married for three years before she got pregnant in January 2021.
The couple welcomed their first child together in October 2021 and are loving being baby Shannon’s parents.
‘Michael couldn’t wait to be a father again – he already has one child and another stepchild from a previous relationship – and I think his age makes him a better father,’ Gretchen said.
‘He can’t be as physically active, but he still loves monkeying around with little Shannon.
Gretchen said that while Michael cannot be as physically active as he used to, he still loves playing around with little Shannon, pictured
‘But he’s more like a grandad because he has so much more patience.’
Michael said: ‘People think I’m Shannon’s grandad all the time but I just laugh it off.’
‘The hardest thing about being an older dad is Shannon has just started playgroup and he brings home a lot of colds and bugs.
‘The immune system of a 36-year-old is a whole lot better than the immune system of a 63-year-old.
‘I constantly have these colds, it’s exhausting.
‘The hardest physical aspect is getting up in the middle of the night but that’s becoming less and less and Shannon is a joy.’
Michael is still young at heart and the pair don’t see the age gap as a defining factor of their relationship.
Gretchen said: ‘It feels like I’m the old one and Michael’s the young one. I’m always telling him to turn the music down.
‘I would tell any woman in my position that life is too short to be unhappy. If something feels right in your gut – go for it.’
Gretchen isn’t worried about becoming a widow and is just focusing on the now.
‘Nobody knows when it’s their time to go,’ she said.
Michael said: ‘I adore Gretchen and she takes good care of me.
‘I’m a lot more stable and mature than I was in my thirties and that stability and maturity is comforting to Gretchen.
‘There is nothing wrong in the bedroom department, Gretchen is just taking time to recover after giving birth.
‘The age difference is tremendously helpful in the success of our relationship.’