This week’s installment of I’m Married To A… shed light on a dating phenomenon we’ve seen play out in movies and across the pages of tabloids. Meet Antoine and Towana, a committed and loving couple who just so happen to be 18 years apart. (Yes, it’s time to ready those Graduate references and soapbox speech about how Jennifer Lopez most definitely has a “type.”) The fact that Antoine is closer in age to Tim and Chrissy (Towana’s children) than his own girlfriend is something people notice, sure, but by no means a defining factor in their relationship. And despite being only 24, Antoine is so in love, he put a ring on it.
VH1 caught up with the recently engaged couple to see how they’ve been handling their newfound fame, and most importantly, if they’ve started wedding planning.
What has the response been like since Tuesday’s episode aired?
Towana: The response to our episode was great. 98 percent of the comments we received were in support of our love. Our Facebook, phones, and email were dinging and ringing all night. We are still receiving feedback on the show and most people want to see more–they want to know if there is more footage or if we are coming back for another show. Even my children are being treated like celebrities.
Have people in similar situations approached you with their stories?
T: Yes, I had a co-worker ask for my advice in dealing with his girlfriend’s son who is four years his junior. People are asking us how they can find the kind of love that we have, how we keep our love alive, and what it takes to have a successful relationship. I gave advice before but it has been magnified now.
What did you hope to achieve by putting your story on television?
T: Our main goal was to share our story with the world. To help people understand that the relationship you hope for may not be perfect, or fit into the norm, but if it is perfect for you than go for it. Age is just a number — make sure they are legal — and true love is ageless.
Was there anything you were nervous to show on camera?
T: Yes, because of my ministry and religious beliefs I did not want anyone to be confused about my morals. We wanted to be open and honest no matter how uncomfortable it may have been.
Towana: Had you ever thought about being with a younger man before you met Antoine? Have you dated one in the past?
T: I’ve dated men maybe four or five years younger than me at the most, but I typically dated men older than me or my age. I never thought about or ever tried to date a younger man. I didn’t think they could handle me.
Do you have any thoughts on iconic May-December romances in pop culture (The Graduate, etc.)? Are the similar to your experiences?
T: We don’t consider ourselves to be part of a May-December romance. One reason is because most of these relationships are fueled with a purpose: money, status, etc. Our relationship is built on love and was not planned. There is a somewhat negative connotation that is perceived when you give this title to your relationship. We have a significant age difference but in everything else we are the same.
What’s the most attractive thing about an older woman?
Antoine: I can’t speak for all older women, but as for Towana, it’s her mind. I love the way she thinks. Older women also know how to treat their man like a king, and in return you treat them like a queen.
What’s the strongest part of your connection?
T: Aside from the love being number one, it is our faith in God and our unwillingness to let any dictate who we should be with. The more people hate on us, the stronger we become. Our personalities play a big part, though. We are both a little crazy.
A: I’m sure they do. I mean, no one has expressed that to me, but it may seem that way to some. The thing about it is, I wasn’t, nor am I, looking for another mother. I found a woman that loves me and I love her; someone that treats me like her man and not her son. I’m no longer a child so I don’t need someone to fill a parental void. I am a GROWN man and I needed someone to fill that adult space in my heart.
How is Towana different from your mother?
A: For starters, they are two different people. It’s like asking how are apples and oranges different. My mother brought me into this world and Towana is sharing my world.
Have you ever been mistaken for mother and son in public?
A: In the beginning, yes, we were asked a number of times if he was my son or if I was his mother. Some people were just trying to be nosy and others just wanted a confirmation of what they assumed. Either way, my reply would sometimes be, “He’s not my son, he’s my daddy.”
Are there things you argue about or areas where you disagree that you think can be attributed to your age difference?
T: One thing that can be contributed to age would be Antoine’s inexperience in dealing with some of life’s curve balls.
A: Towana is experienced and has a lot a wisdom–this causes her to give unsolicited advice that sometimes comes in the form of a speech.
Do you feel like dating Towana has forced you to grow up quickly?
A: Yes, I feel like I want to be that man who can take care of his woman. I think being with Towana has pushed me to become the man God intended for me to be, just a little sooner.
Would you recommend dating outside your age group to your single friends?
T: Yes, we would recommend dating whoever you fall in love with. Whether they are younger or older, love can conquer all.
Why did you decide to propose in front of your friends and family?
A: I wanted it to be special and I wanted our family and friends to share in our confirmation of how much we truly love each other.
How did Antoine’s proposal compare to those in your past?
T: Antoine’s proposal was a total surprise. It was sweet and well thought out. I’m not a cry baby, but it brought me to tears. Best of all, it came from someone that I truly want to spend the rest of my life with.
Are you planning on having children together?
T: Yes and no. We know that there is a time limit on having children because of my age, so I told Antoine that we have a two to three-year window. We will have children if and when the time is right.
What’s next for “Team Us”?
T: World domination! Reaching our dreams and goals together. We are going to start planning for the wedding and preparing to spend our life together, but who knows? There maybe baby talk in the near future.