It leads to a much more equal partnership
He’s young, she’s old. Can this marriage last?
Kick Ass actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s wife of 10 years, Fifty Shades of Grey director Sam Taylor-Johnson, is 24 years older than he is, and this appears to be a problem for many people.
He was 18 when they met, she was 42. They wed in 2013 and he admits the scrutiny was hard and still is, despite having two children together and raising her two daughters from a previous marriage:
The attention was intrusive. But having to deal with that early in my career probably got me to a place where I can more quickly just go, ‘Oh, f*ck it’ instead of wanting to rip someone’s head off for asking questions I don’t like.”
Sam expresses similar frustrations, saying:
If I gave a second thought to other people, I would be the unhappiest person, probably still in a miserable marriage. People like to talk about it. I’m like, ‘Yeah, but it works better than my last marriage.’ It’s lasted longer than a lot of my friends’ marriages.”
I’d never heard of the couple but stumbled upon them when two men questioned a quote from a recent column I wrote on why many older women don’t want to live with their boyfriends — “I expect there are also more wealthy and interesting 70-year-old women with 50-year-old boy toys than in the past as well.”
A “nice fantasy” one guy remarked.
“Most definitely not lol,” wrote another.
So I went looking for examples of older women-younger men couples beyond Madonna, 61, who almost always skews younger and has recently has been seen hanging with a 25-year-old dancer.
Take that, guys!
It is, of course, the old double standard — men can date much younger, but women? Ew!
And yet …
Cindy Gallop, ad exec and founder of MakeLoveNotPorn, is very vocal about the stigma older women face, especially when it comes to things like love, sex and dating, and wants to shake that up:
I am very public about the fact that I date younger men. I am very public about the fact that I never wanted to be married, never wanted to have children. I tell everyone how old I am as often as possible. I am 56 and I tell everybody. I consider myself a proud member of one of the most invisible segments of the population: older women. So I want to redefine how I live my life in a way that defies what an older woman should look like, talk like, think like, work like, be like and fuck like. I am going to talk about all of this because we don’t have enough role models in society for women and men that demonstrate you can live your life in a very different way than society expects you to and still be extremely happy.”
When I wrote about Emmanuel Macron’s election as president of France and the 25-year age gap between Macron and his wife, Brigitte Trogneux, I was delighted to hear him call out comments that labeled Trogneux a “cougar” as “rampant misogyny” against older women in general.
And that’s exactly what it is.
Neither Macron nor Taylor-Johnson seem to fear their wives getting older (they will) or losing their beauty (not necessarily). Neither seem to be trapped by a narrow version of what a relationship should look like. And neither is letting society dictate what they know is right for them.
These are smart, confident men who understand what older women have to offer.
What I love about couples like these, who forge ahead with unconventional relationships, is that is that are willing to turn on its head what we have come to expect of men and women in romantic relationships — that men only desire youth and beauty, and women will use their youth and beauty to snag a man of status and wealth, usually older.
But the older man-younger woman dynamic generally creates unequal relationships; older women-younger men marriages appear to be much more equal partnerships.
Isn’t that what we, especially women, want?
But maybe men don’t. Many men say they need to earn more than their wives to feel good about themselves. Of course, earning more means they have the power.
Which means if women truly want an equal partnership, they should skew younger. As an older woman who has often done that, I can assure you there are other perks as well.