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.