Marrying a younger woman

by | June 5, 2012

Research has shown that there are benefits to older men marrying younger women. However, that doesn’t apply to women who marry younger men.


BY: Dr Samuel Cheah


Without prejudice, marriage is more beneficial for men than for women – at least for older men like myself who is happily married to a much younger spouse (age 37) – the younger the better.


The evidence

Researchers have thought that this data holds true for both sexes. They assumed an effect called “active barometer” is at play; many older men (age 50-plus) who have younger wives are happier, healthier and live a higher life expectancy. It was also thought that a younger spouse has a positive psychological and social effect on her older male partner and can be a better provider in his golden years. This effect only seems to work for older men. (WRITER’S NOTE: A study at Germany’s Max Planck Institute, highlighted in the UK’s “The Telegraph” in 2009, found that a man’s chance of dying early are cut by a fifth if their bride is between 15 to 17 years their junior. The risk of premature death reduced by 11 percent if they marry a woman seven to nine years younger. The study also found that men marrying older women are more likely to die early. The results also found that sadly women do not experience the same benefits of marrying a toy boy or a sugar daddy.)

On average, many male baby boomers have fewer social contacts than women. However, a younger husband wouldn’t help extend the life of his older wife (age 50-plus) by taking care of her, spending quality time with her and enjoying the golden years together. She continues to enjoy her social circle of older friends for that matter. 

This means that older women do not benefit by having younger husbands, but why does having younger husbands shorten their lives? One possible explanation I see is that much younger husbands tend to violate their marital commitments and in some cases, suffer from social scandals of sorts. Since marrying a much younger husband deviates from what is regarded as finding a diamond among the rocks, these older women could be regarded as looking for their personal priority to feel younger men can look after themselves better (especially those in smart regimental uniforms) but they may receive less social support from their circle of friends. Thus, adding in more stress, increasing the health problems and risks of mortality if there is suspicion of her husband’s clandestine affairs.


Good news for women too

It is not true that marriage in general is unfavourable. Being married raises the lifespan of both men and women above those that are unmarried. Married women are also generally better off than men in maturity and showing more care in their lifetime commitment. Globally, women’s lifespans exceed that of men’s by only a few years.

A longer lifespan does not necessarily mean a happier and healthier life. A good marriage relationship is a covenant of good feeling together, listening to one another and pulling down the isolation walls and scoreboards, allowing love to flow freely. While it is necessary for older couples to lead a healthy lifestyle together, researchers have discovered that men succumb to fatal illnesses such as pneumonia, heart disease, stroke and cancer, while women worry less and live longer with non-fatal health conditions such as arthritis, osteoporosis and diabetes, thanks to a hormone called “estradiol”. While not all older men will die from chronic ailments, younger spouses are happier to live with older husbands for as long as they feel wonderfully loved – at least that is good news to both sexes indeed!


Dr Samuel Cheah, 59, is currently working as a senior psychologist dealing with special needs students and family care. He takes it day-by-day and “enjoys life without boundaries”.

(** PHOTO CREDIT: Wedding Rings – African American by theswedish, stock.xchng; wedding bouquet by meisax, stock.xchng)



  1. Mitchell Hinz

    With all due respect, I believe Dr. Cheah’s article creates serious mis-perceptions about the relationship between spousal age gaps and long life.

    The study he cites, from the Max Planck Institute, was actually about women (not men) but it does confirm the statistical correlation between older men who marry younger women, and the fact that men who have younger wives live longer.

    However, this is a “statistical correlation”; not a “cause-and-effect” relationship.

    In other words, the data is about men who have younger wives, not about the affect that marrying a younger women can have on an older man’s life span. There are no studies, Planck or otherwise, that show that the marriage itself to a younger women is what causes older men to live longer.

    In fact, a review of the literature shows what most social scientists believe: that having a younger wife is more likely an “indicator” of the health of these older men to begin with.

    There are two cited reasons why this may be the case: natural section, and wealth.

    Articles suggest first that younger women select healthier (older) men to be their spouse because that makes them more attractive as mates to begin with (health and beauty are very closely related in all animal pairings, not just humans). The larger the age gap, the more healthy he would have to be to still be appealing to a younger spouse.

    Wealth also matters, as is well known, because older men with money are more attractive as partners to younger women. (Sadly, a stroll thru a luxury tourist area almost anywhere in the world can confirm this.) Yet this same wealth also allows these men access to better health and medical care, better life styles, better education, etc., all of which can increase longevity (the connection between education, income and longevity, in particular, is well known in developing studies).

    Worst of all, promoting the idea that getting a younger wife is a “benefit” to an older man may actually be at the *expense* of women.

    The study that Dr. Cheah’s article refers to is newly found data showing that women who have much older men as spouses – or, conversely, much younger men – have ben found (statistcally) to live *shorter* lives. The most positive correlation for women’s longevity is to be married to someone identical or close to her own age.

    If Dr. Cheah belives marrying a younger women helps older men, then he has to also admit that this same activity hurts older women. But neither are true.

    In the Press Release of the study, the author Sven Drefahl from the Max Planck Institute says: “These theories now have to be reconsidered. It appears that the reasons for mortality differences due to the age gap of the spouses [for both men and women] remain unclear.”

    Notice his statement refers to looking for the reasons for the “age gap”, and not why — or whether — the marriage bond may increase longevity. So far there is no evidence to show it does.

    Speculating on causes for this gap is fine; but assuming causality from the statistical relationships is not.

    Respectfully, Mitchell Hinz, aged 50+ years

    • agelessadmin

      Thanks, Mitch for your comments.

  2. Laura McKee

    Please know that terms like “boy toy” and “sugar daddy” insult anyone — young or old, male or female — who is in a serious age-gap relationship, and have no place in what is supposed to be (I think?) a relatively sober treatise on such relationships. Also, people with much-younger partners can enjoy vigorous sex lives and the probability that they will never suffer becoming a widow(er).


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