Older Women Who Marry Younger Men: They're Stigmatized, but Highly Satisfied

Older Women Who Marry Younger Men: They're Stigmatized, but Highly Satisfied

Both before and after the recent election of French president Emmanuel Macron, his wife, Brigitte, found herself to be the target of constant attacks on social media. Why? Because she happens to be 24 years older than her husband.

Age-gap relationships in which a woman is significantly older than her male partner have always attracted a lot of attention and scrutiny. Case in point: remember what big news it was when Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher were together? As you may have noticed, this same scrutiny isn’t usually applied to relationships in which men are significantly older than their female partners. As some evidence of this, just consider what a non-issue it has been that U.S. President Donald Trump happens to be 24 years older than his wife, Melania (the same age-gap as the Macrons).

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Does A More Equal Marriage Really Mean Less Sex?

Does A More Equal Marriage Really Mean Less Sex?

A recent New York Times piece by Lori Gottlieb entitled "Does a More Equal Marriage Mean Less Sex?" made a lot of waves over the weekend. Gottlieb's analysis suggests that couples in egalitarian marriages (i.e., marriages in which the spouses share power and divide responsibilities equally) tend to have worse sex lives than couples who adopt more traditional gender roles. As some support for this idea, Gottlieb cited a study published in the American Sociological Review last year, which reported that married couples who divide household chores along gendered lines (i.e., with women doing more work inside the home, such as cleaning and ironing, and men doing more work outside of the home, such as mowing the lawn and fixing the car) have sex more often than couples who divide chores evenly [1]. However, a closer look at this research suggests that Gottlieb (like many others who have reported on this particular study) may be overselling the implications.

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As Gender Equality Increases, Male And Female Mate Preferences Become More Similar

Research from multiple countries around the world has found that men tend to place more emphasis on youth and beauty while women tend to emphasize status and resources in their search for sexual and romantic partners [1]. The sheer number of studies conducted and the diversity of the samples utilized suggest that these gender differences in mating preferences are nearly universal. The explanation for why these differences ever emerged remains a hot topic of debate, with some theorists arguing that they reflect an evolved adaptation and others that they are a product of persistent societal inequalities that favor men. A new set of studies published in Psychological Science appears to provide some support for the latter perspective [2].
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