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A woman says the 27-year age gap with her husband makes him a “better dad” to their baby despite strangers mistaking him for the boy’s grandad — or her own father.
“People often mistake my husband for my dad — but we laugh it off,” said Gretchen Dillon, 36, who met Michael Dillon, 63, after continuously bumping into him at the local supermarket and befriending him.
Gretchen had just moved to Syracuse from Pennsylvania and was happy to have made a friend. Michael, who is two years older than Gretchen’s mom, helped her find her footing in her new city, offering her a free room and a job running his Airbnb.
As the friendship blossomed, the two quickly realized that their feelings for one another were becoming romantic and eventually started dating.
“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,” Gretchen, a market research analyst, told South West News Service. “I took some time and came to terms with it, now I’m happier than ever.”
The pair said that their friends were initially “shocked” by the 27-year age gap but soon jumped on board.
“My friend tried to stop me marrying him because she kept saying I was going to be a widow as he’s nearly 30 years older than me, but I loved him and didn’t care,” Gretchen said.
In fact, Michael, an insurance adjuster, believes their age gap is a plus. “The age difference is tremendously helpful in the success of our relationship,” he said.
“I’m a lot more stable and mature than I was in my thirties.”
The couple did have some issues but they weren’t due to Michael’s age. After years of dating, Gretchen said she made it clear that she did not want a big proposal or a ring but Michael didn’t listen.
On Thanksgiving in 2017, Michael got down on one knee in front of his whole family and proposed to Gretchen with a diamond.
“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,” she explained.
“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.”
But a month later, Michael got it right. He proposed on a sunrise kayaking trip in Florida and after three-and-a-half years of dating the pair got married in February 2018.
The newlyweds decided they wanted to start a family together and three years later Gretchen learned that she was pregnant.
“Michael couldn’t wait to be a father again,” Gretchen recounted. The 61-year-old was already a father to two children but was excited to begin raising another child as a more mature adult.
The couple welcomed baby boy Shannon in October 2021 and couldn’t be happier — despite the confusion they sometimes encounter.
“People think I’m Shannon’s grandad all the time but I just laugh it off,” Michael said.
Still, he admitted now that the baby has joined a playgroup, he’s prone to picking up 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,” he said.
Gretchen, however, thinks his years help him in the parenting department.
“I think his age makes him a better father,” she said. “He can’t be as physically active, but he still loves monkeying around with little Shannon. But he’s more like a grandad because he has so much more patience.
“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,” she added.