Teenage bride defends her relationship with man 34 years older who she met online
Teenagers are notoriously rebellious creatures. They sleep in late when they're meant to be up and helping around the house, they squander all their money on junk food and video games instead of saving up for when they'll actually need it, and they will go to extreme lengths to do anything they're not supposed to.
I know this because I was one.
Some teens go much further beyond the "tried some weed once" or "skipped school in order to go shopping" extremes, however. Take 19-year-old Michaela Matson, for instance, who defied her family in order to be with her 53-year-old fiance, William Maldera.
Matson, who is from Omaha, Nebraska, met her husband-to-be on an 'emotion venting' app last year. The teen claims that she was drawn to Maldera, a truck driver, almost instantly.
"The first time I saw William's photo, I was thinking 'Wow, he's handsome' and was attracted to him straight away," she said. "I liked his nose, it's cute and crooked - because his mom broke it as a child - then he has the most gorgeous light brown eyes that are completely breath-taking."
Soon after that, Matson began a sort of virtual relationship with Maldera, and was "video calling [him] on Facebook almost daily, if not three to four times a week, dependent on his work and [her] school schedule."
After just a matter of months, the teenager decided that she wanted to run away to be with Maldera, who is easily old enough to be her father. "My plan was to go and visit him without telling my mom other than leaving a note," she said, "but my man wanted me to tell her before I left."
To her credit, Matson did take her boyfriend's advice and confessed to her mom about what had been going on between her and the truck driver. But the reception she received wasn't exactly positive.
"Both my mom and William wanted me to tell my dad, I had a bad feeling about telling him and I have never seen him so upset in my life. He threatened to disown me if I decided to keep dating William.
"Then I was sent to see a psychologist, who agreed with what my parents wanted that I had to 'end it' with William.
"Whenever I was texting him, my dad asked if I was talking to 'the piece of ****'."
Despite the disapproval, though, Matson was determined to meet the man she believed she had fallen in love with.
"Because I had given my mom my passport after telling my parents about what should have been my vacation with William, I had to apply for a new one and set aside money for myself to move in with him," she explained. "But as soon as I saw him at the airport I dropped my luggage and ran, I was so excited and overwhelmed to finally meet face to face."
A few months later, they got engaged.
Matson realizes how unconventional her relationship is, and can understand why some people are confused by (or even critical of) the arrangement.
"We don't expect people to know we are engaged, and not father and daughter because age gap relationships aren't typical, we try not to let it bother us. I've been called his daughter quite a few times, but he proudly tells them she's my fiancé, other times we laugh it off while they apologize.
"Normally if I notice anyone giving us a nasty glare I don't care, I just find it funny how others can judge us so quickly despite not knowing who we are.
"It's hard for some people to understand age-gap relationships, but William and I are really happy, we can't wait to be married."
As for her parents, the student believes that there is still a way she can patch things up between all of them. "I left the wrong way, but my parents are slowly accepting is and told me 'It's my life', and neither want to lose me," she explained.