Marriage has a lot of health benefits, but for women it can be a mixed bag. Science Daily reports that marrying a much younger man can shorten your lifespan. The effect holds true for marrying substantially older men as well, but is less pronounced.
Men, on the other hand, get a huge benefit from marrying a woman substantially younger than they are. Guys with young wives live longer, healthier lives than their peers who married someone their own age.
Why the discrepancy?
Before this study, it was widely known that men who marry women 7-9 years younger than themselves enjoy longer lives. Researchers assumed that women with young husbands would show the same benefit and were surprised when instead they saw women with either much older or much younger husbands dying younger themselves.
The article suggests that women with younger husbands lose social status because their marriages violate social norms. The result, the researchers opine, is a more stressful, less happy life. And thus a shorter one.
Men, they suppose, benefit from having young wives because the younger women bring them more joy, keep them socially connected and care for them in their old age. Young husbands apparently don’t do any of these things for their older wives.
I call b***s***.
The research shows that when there’s a big age gap in a marraige, women’s lifespans suffer. It doesn’t say anything about why. The reasons these guys came up with are their own guesswork, based on some frankly sexist notions of social norms.
Fortunately for me and my mom (who both married men with a 14 year age gap), women’s life expectancy exceeds men’s anyway, and this effect doesn’t change that.