Do couples of younger men with older women die younger?

Awerpia asks:

My girlfriend is 3 years older than I am. When we first met I tried to kill what 

I felt for her because of the age gap. But she kept giving me hope and pushing for what her heart wanted.  I fell deeply for her and I still love her. 

Truth is, I can’t imagine dating another person. I can’t imagine my future without her being in it. She’s older but she doesn’t treat me like her “toy boy”. But where we live, hmm, there’s some sort of stigma with marrying or dating an older woman. 

Recently I chanced upon an article that spoke of how men who married older women had a much higher mortality rate than those that married younger girls. The article also describes how detrimental it was for a woman to also marry a younger man in terms of her life expectancy. Shirelle, I really don’t know what to do. But to be honest with you, I’m scared of dying early.  I love her so much. What do I do? Should I follow societal norms and marry a younger woman just so I can live long? Is my love for her worth the risk? Should I follow love, marry her, forget about societal norms and put both our lives at lower life expectancy? Are these articles really absolute?

Hi Awerpia –

I have to say, I’m fascinated by this concern, and the articles you referred me to.  And I have a thought on them, one I don’t seem to see the researchers coming up with.

We dogs don’t have nearly the life expectancy of you people.  Ours, depending on size and breed, is between ten and twenty years.  Yours is in your seventies and up.  

So when my human friend Handsome first brought me home from the pound, he could assume that he’d outlive me by a lot.  That I’d go in maybe fifteen years, while he’d live for at least forty more.  And at first this didn’t concern him at all.  But over time, he fell really in love with me, a lot a lot a LOT.  And eventually he got to the point where he often tells me, “Shirelle, I don’t know if I can bear to live after you’re gone.  I’m not threatening to do anything bad; I’m just saying my heart would give out if you weren’t here!”

I’ve never heard of that happening to a person, to die of a broken heart when their dog or cat goes.  But it happens a lot in good marriages.  In fact, it doesn’t seem to be so much about a broken heart as that when one partner goes, the other follows them soon after, likely because, at some level, they just want to.

If you note, these articles don’t focus on all the bad marriages out there – unless I missed something, there’s nothing about the couple that marries with a 20-year age difference and then divorces.  It’s all about who stays together.

And this is my point.  They say that it’s “better” for men to marry younger women, but “better” for women to marry younger men.  I’m thinking the truth is that, if the marriage is good, then both tend to die around the same time, because they don’t want to live without each other.  And if those deaths happen when the man is 85 and the woman is 65, he’s lived a longer life and she’s lived a shorter.  Or vice versa.

So here’s the funny part of this: if I’m right, what these studies are really saying is that what’s dangerous for life expectancy is falling in love with a wonderful partner you fully attach to!   But of course, that’s the best life anyone can ever ask for!

And if I’m right, then it’s true that you might live somewhat longer if you married a girl who’s currently learning to walk.  But you’d have to spend the next twenty years alone, waiting for her to grow up, before you could date her!

And I’ll throw in another statistic:  Regardless of marriages, women historically tend to live a little longer than men.  

So if you put these two facts together, that women live longer normally, and that happy couples tend to go together, then I’d say that if you and this woman married, you might each live your full life expectancy, and die naturally within a week of each other!  So I wouldn’t worry too much about this one.

Instead, I’d urge you to do what you can to live as long as possible by not smoking, by eating well, by never driving drunk, by exercising, and by staying as happy and fulfilled as you can.  And that last part sure looks like it can most easily be accomplished by hanging with this wonderful lady every chance you get!



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