Differently from women, men who remarry often choose a partner significantly younger than them. But after the first few years of bliss, marital life can be a tough cookie.
Women have made leaps and bounds on their road to emancipation and equal rights. There is one field, however, where men refuse to lay down the sceptre, i.e. the self-attributed privilege to have a younger partner. And “the powers that be” haven’t spared any ammo in the defence of their position. They spread the hearsay that “man is like wine, he improves with age”, which women often accept more than they’d like to admit.
On the other hand, the strongest instruments for the creation of consensus are all in male hands. Hollywood, a man’s world par excellence, is really going to town with the propaganda, judging from the repetitiveness of their scripts: a young man (played by a 60-year-old actor) meets his contemporary (played by a promising 25-year-old starlet) and love is in the air. (Of note, when the promising starlet will reach the actual age of promises, there won’t be any roles she can play).
And if this holds true in fiction, things like this happen also in reality, especially in the entertainment world. A recent extreme case of this was the wedding of Hugh Hefner (91 years old) to Crystal Harris (31 years old), but one would expect no less from the creator of Playboy magazine.
In order to drink from the fountain of eternal youth, women will have to wait another decade or so. Sure, the odd news item does pop up about the TV presenter or successful entrepreneur in a relationship with a much younger man (which the tabloids maliciously label as “toy-boy”). But when it comes to marriage, there is no comparison with men. According to a 2014 report, 18% of men who remarry do so with a woman 6-9 years their junior, and 20% with a woman more than 10 years younger. When it comes to remarried women, the numbers plummet. 2% choose men 6-9 years their junior, and only 1% marry a man more than 10 years younger.
This said on gender inequality, let’s return to the point of this post: is it a good idea to marry a partner with a large age gap? To answer this, here are some of the hardships the couple would have to face and overcome: a true minefield, that will put the lovers to the test.
She married him because of the money. He did to feel young again. These are just the nicest of the comments the newlyweds will have to listen to. They might even contain a grain of truth sometimes, so it’s important for them not to be influenced by them. Same goes for the questions he or she will have thrown at them: what about the sex? What will you do when you’ll be 60 and she’ll be forty?
Family and friends’ disapproval.
Couples with a large age gap will have to deal with the disapproval of those they hold most dear. The lack of support will open cracks in the relationship, and changing friends’ and family’s minds is very hard, as they don’t share the feelings or passion of the individual for their partner.
Divorce is always behind the corner.
Research at Emory University shows that the wider the age gap, the more probable is divorce. If the difference is 5 years, the risk goes up by 18%. Past 20 years, by 95%. The ideal age difference to minimise risk is one year maximum: the probability of divorce is only 3%.
The age gap getting wider by the year.
If the man is initially flattered by the affections of a younger wife, as time goes by hostility might arise from all the things he can’t do, but she can. On the her side, the wife will unknowingly start playing the caregiver to an OAP.
Long story short, he will be over the moon to have lead a younger woman down the aisle, but he should have rather hung up his vanity and found a woman his own age. Sure, love closed even the largest age gaps. But when the initial passion dies out and transforms into solidarity and affection, both partners risk ending up with a pretty small plot of land on which to build a relationship.