The age gap – so what?

Invariably, in every article about Emmanuel Macron, the new president of France, journalists write he is married to a wife 24 years his senior. Whatever they say about him, or her, at a certain point there it is: his wife is so much older than him, she has children his age, she has several grandchildren, they met when he was very young and she was his teacher at school…I must say I am fed up with this kind of chauvinistic talk.

More than chauvinistic, I find this intolerable. Just when I was thinking how much older Donald Trump is than his wife Melania, I suddenly read he is…exactly 24 years older than her. But rarely, very rarely have I seen it mentioned by journalists (probably only on one occasion), unlike in Macron’s case, as it seems to be a non issue. Let me rephrase this: when a man is much older than his wife this seems of no relevance; on the contrary, when the wife is older than her husband, it is something to be mentioned, to be stressed, to be repeated countless times – and I wonder why this is so shocking while the other way round appears to be seen as “normal” (whatever “normal” may be in a couple’s relationship).

Of course this has to do with the traditional way of seeing the male-female relationships, in which the man’s role was to be a provider, a protector of the “fairer” sex; women were not “capable” (rather society would not allow them!)  of fending for themselves, so it was only natural that they should marry a man who was old enough to earn his living comfortably so as to provide them with a home for them and their future children. This is why it was quite usual, for a long time, for women to marry men at least ten years older – in fact my own father was nine years older than my mother, and this was also the age gap between my in-laws and so many couples of their generation. Even if, of course, in Mom’s generation several women already worked and had their careers.

Still, this has totally changed and today there is no reason whatsoever to see the age gap in a different way whether it concerns older men or women in a couple. So then may I ask why this obsession about Emmanuel Macron and his wife, while the same age gaps, or even greater ones, are simply ignored just because it is the man who is so much older than his wife?

There is only one possible answer: because, unfortunately, and as much as we think chauvinism is dying, it is still very much alive in some quarters and in some people’s minds, even if they think they are very open-minded.

Regarding Macron and his wife, the media even go as far as to mention “he is totally devoted to her” and “he says she is the love of his life” with a slight tone of mockery than means deep down they don’t believe how it is possible that this young, 39 year-old handsome, brilliant, successful man, can be so much in love, and clearly happy, with a wife so much older than him, who clearly was not of an age to give him children? They clearly wonder how he can be happy playing “stepdad” to her children who are of an age with him, and “granddad” to her grandchildren when it would be normal for him to father children their age…I never saw similar comments to why Melania had fallen in love with a much older, already twice divorced man with four children; I have never seen comments about how she is not so much older than his daughter Ivanka…everyone seems to be perfectly at ease with the Trumps age gap, by an amazing coincidence exactly the same 24 years that separate the Macrons – but in this case it seems to bother every one of the journalists writing about them.

As for me, I declare I am heartily sick of these chauvinistic articles. I would say to journalists”Stop this – we can’t bear to read another line about how much older than her husband Brigitte is”. They seem to be a bright, ambitious, intelligent couple who clearly work together and walk together in life. It seems clear theirs is an authentic love story that has been there for some years and it looks as if their love is still very much alive, when they hold hands, when they look at each other or when they kiss. The age gap means nothing to them, and it should mean nothing to anyone, in fact, because people should be free to love each other independently of race, creed, gender, or age. In fact in most Western societies they are, but still onlookers tend to be cruel. And prejudiced.

Most of all, and after everything has been said and done about these politicians and their wives, much younger or much older, all of this is irrelevant, or should be, because the only thing that matters is that they perform their roles with honesty, strength, resilience, persistence, and showing some political capacity – which have unfortunately become rarer and rarer in the past decades…and when it comes to the qualities I have mentioned I tend to believe a man like Macron, who has devotedly loved a woman, his life companion, for so many years, may have some of them. After all, a man who is capable of a great love must be capable of doing great things as well.

Call me a romantic, if you will, but I find the Macrons love story a beautiful one. And having stood for equality of gender during my whole life I don’t give a damn if it’s the woman or the man who is much older in a relationship. After all, when people truly love each other, this is a minor detail. Like so many others, it doesn’t matter at all. Because all that matters is to be happy with the one we love.