The Case for Men Marrying an Older Woman

It may be worth resisting the attraction to younger ones.

Posted Jun 22, 2016

Source: Peter van der Sluijs, CC 3.0

NOTE: For those who might wonder why this article focuses only on straight men and women, it is because many of the issues in marrying an older person relate to pregnancy or health and there are significant gender differences in age-related health and sexuality.

Many men are attracted to younger women. Mainly it's a visceral, physical thing although some men may value a younger woman because she is more likely to look up to him if only because he may have advanced more in his career.

But there are reasons men should consider older women as a potential marriage partner. I will admit I'm biased: My wife is five years older than I am and we've been contentedly married for almost 40 years now.

Sexual compatibility.  Alfred Kinsey's classic work on sexuality concluded that men's sexual hormones peak at 18, women's in their early 30s. Of course, factors other than hormones affect sexuality, for example, being experienced at sex, but a man increases his chances of sexual compatibility by marrying an older woman.

Maturity in the relationship. Having lived longer, a person is more likely to have maturity that comes with age: not to fight so much about trivia, not as likely to have an affair having gotten that out of her system. Marrying an older woman, on average, means marrying a more mature person.

Maturity in parenting. Parenting is far more difficult and stressful than many people realize. It requires great maturity and equanimity to consistently set limits but not excessive ones, remain calm, and collaboratively solve problems with your child. A 30-something is more likely to have that maturity than is a 20-something.

Likely to be further in her career. As mentioned, older people have had more time to advance in their career. So marrying an older woman, on average, not only increases the chances she'll contribute more money to the family income, she'll be in a better position to offer career advice and maybe even help her husband land a better job. Plus, having an experienced career woman as a mate allows confidential career advice that may not be possible from peers.

Health compatibility. Women live five years longer than men, and men die earlier of nine of the top ten leading causes of death. Current research summarized in a BBC review, suggests this is caused by biology, not lifestyle. So, on average, a man choosing a woman five years older is marrying his physiological equal.

Why might that matter? At age 80, the average man is moribund or dead. There now are more than four widows for every widower. If an 80-year-old man is married to a 75-year-old, physiologically 70, even if she still loves him, she may feel he's an albatross and he may feel he's a burden. In contrast, if he had married someone five years older than him, they're more likely to be health peers and to fade away together.

Earlier on life's conveyer belt, the typical 65-year-old man has at least one significant health issue. If he's married to a 60 year-old woman, he's married to someone who, on average, is physiologically ten years younger and thus likely healthier and more vigorous, physically and mentally. If you'd feel more comfortable growing old with someone in similar shape to you, consider an older woman.

Marrying an older woman may even yield benefits fairly early in a marriage. For example, compatible energy levels makes it more likely that a couple will want to recreate together. So, for example, anecdotally I've observed that more women than men ages 35 to 40 want to do do extreme sports such as rock climbing, run marathons, or do triathlons. 

Objections

"But people will think less of me."  Should you make such a major life decision based on some narrow-minded people's definition of normalcy?

"But I'd like to have children and older women are less fertile." Today, thanks to prenatal screening, most women have a high probability of having a healthy baby through their 30s and even early 40s. For many people, the difference in fertility rate is too small to trump the factors cited above.

The takeaway

Most important in choosing a wife, of course is compatibility: sexually, interpersonally, in values, plus whether they're kind and, of course, that you love each other: You feel great just being in a room with that person, you put each other on a pedestal, and are pleased to do things for that person. I expand on those in the article, Should You Marry This Person?

You may more likely find a wife you'll be contented with long-term if you don't limit your options to people of your age and younger. In fact, as argued above, there's reason to believe you'll be happier with an older woman.

Dr. Nemko’s nine books are available. You can reach career and personal coach Marty Nemko at mnemko@comcast.net.

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