Why Do Older Men with Young Wives Live Longer? Benefits of an Old Man with Younger Children and Family
Once again, in browsing the answers section I have found a question which requires far more space than the answer box allows…Why do older men married to younger women live longer? While I haven't done particular research on the subject, just out of my experience in my own marriage (my husband is 27 years my senior) I have made a number of inferences as to why this may be. These are obviously not applicable in all marriages of older men to younger women, but may be consistent throughout many marriages.
First, my husband stays much more active than the average man his age. After work he doesn't have the luxury of kicking back in a recliner with a good book for the rest of the evening until it’s time to go to sleep early; instead, he is often greeted by an exuberant 4-year-old who has been missing his favorite playmate all day and is desperate to share what he’s done today. Men seem to slip into the “little boy” routine so much easier than many women and, as a result, small children have a blast playing with their adult playmate.
Next, many people in their 50s have slowed down on their daily physical exercise (though certainly not all!). However, if a man in his 50s is married to a woman in her 20s, the chances that she will want to go for brisk walks in the evening, go hiking on the weekends, swim during the summer, and other such physical activities is higher. When the couple gets along well the husband is generally invited along (…begged, pleaded, and coerced…) on these outings and is compelled to have a more active part in the day’s activities than a man with an older, less active wife.
While not always true, it is often the case that a man who marries a much younger woman is already in excellent health for his age. Younger women take a lot of energy and often have a preconceived notion of what their man will be like…which, when you’re talking about a 20-30 year age gap, generally means that the man will be fit enough to be appealing and even competitive when compared to men in the woman’s own age group. Add to that, younger women may still be wanting kids, expect a higher level of affection, and…well, let’s just say that’s another aspect of increased activity level that a man will be expected to keep up with.
Increased Incentive to Stay Healthy
A man with a much younger wife can be fairly certain that he will outlive her, and may die while any children they have together are still fairly young. While this is a possibility, especially looking at statistical averages, a man would certainly wish to stay with his family as much as possible. Maybe they want to have more time to beef up the retirement account even though they know they will never spend it on themselves, but want something to leave for his young family. Perhaps he wants to see his children grown and out of the house so that his job in raising them is done, and less of a burden is being left on his surviving wife when he does pass. Whatever the case, a man who knows the odds that he will be the first of his family to die generally feels much more need to take the best possible care of himself because he knows his family needs him far longer than he’s capable of living.
In addition, while older men are notorious for balking at the thought of going to a doctor for regular checkups, or for issues such as severe chest pain or other things that could signify serious problems, older men with younger wives are more likely to be vigilant about these particular health issues. If an older man has a grown family and a wife his own age, he tends to be more likely to hold to the notion that he’s old and everyone has to die of something, so why not this? Add to that, men diagnosed with potentially fatal diseases may often choose to forego treatment completely or not allow more drastic treatments to be done, yet if he has a young wife with school-age kids he will probably be more likely to use the best alternatives that current medical knowledge has available even if it’s only likely to give him a couple more years.
Lower Stress Levels
While young families certainly carry with them their share of stress, they also bring with them children, pets, long days in the garden or afternoons in the park…all of which are proven to alleviate stress and make life seem a lot more worthwhile. Older men may or may not see their adult children, and may or may not have grandchildren that they get to spend time with. Many older couples choose not to get any more pets when the aged family dog finally passes because they don’t know how long they themselves will live and don’t want to leave an animal to fend for itself in the world of animal shelters and well-meaning neighbors and friends after they die. In addition, being around small children can be a really fun and exciting experience and the kids are eager to explore their world and find such fascination in small things, as well as eagerly listen to all of your explanations about everything from bugs to clouds.
Overall, older men with young families seem to live longer chiefly because there’s a good reason to do so, and because they’re constantly surrounded by people who are still enjoying the exciting potential of a life just starting out. If none of these are applicable, then it may very well be true that you aren’t living longer, it just seems like it.
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