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While the world watched the French election with bated breath and placed bets on who would take the baton – Emmanuel Macron, the charming newbie and ex-Investment Banker or the veteran Marine Le Pen – an altogether different and apolitical reason kept people immersed in the unfolding drama.
The reason was not whether a woman would be elected to the top echelons of the nation; instead, what drove the paparazzi to a frenzy and led to social media having a field day writing and re-writing this story was – the wife of Emmanuel Macron, Brigitte and their whirlwind romance which is unique in more ways than one.
Emmanuel and Brigitte have an age gap of 25 years between them. Their love first blossomed when Emmanuel was a teenager, barely 15 and was smitten by his teacher, then 40 and a mother of 3.
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While everyone thought that young Emmanuel was heads over heels in love with Brigitte’s daughter who was his classmate, the truth was that love was slowly blossoming between the teacher and pupil as they worked on the script of a play. This unconventional romance stood the test of time as Emmanuel and Brigitte tied the knot in 2007 and 24 years since they first met, they stand strong, hand in hand celebrating the first round of victory in the French Presidential Election where he thanked her for her unflinching support to his campaign and declared that she would be an important part of the Office if he won. (Results now show that he has indeed won).
This out-of-the-box love story has fascinated millions all over the world and as I first read about it in the newspapers, it brought on a whirlwind of thoughts and questions, which is why I decided to write about this.
No doubt the age gap of 24 years is what has caught everyone’s interest but the fact that it’s the woman older than the man is what makes it so intriguing. Else, wouldn’t the case of Donald Trump and Melania which is also coincidentally 25 years have brewn a storm?
This made me recall an incident to do with a college friend who was in love with a lady one year older to him. A steady relationship of 5 years, they both had respectable jobs, belonged to the same religion and community – the only hindrance to their matrimony was the man’s mother who refused to budge and threatened to sever all ties with her only son if he married a lady one year older to him. My friend was at his wits’ end as his girlfriend’s family kept pressurizing him to take a stance but he couldn’t completely alienate his mother. Finally I was glad to hear that his mother was convinced and they got married with the blessings of family. All’s well that ends well but the question nags me – should a wife being older than her husband make such a drastic difference?
On matrimonial sites, while most women are as choosy as men and filter out for an age gap of 2-4 years when looking for a prospective groom – it’s amusing to see that men and their parents in general have very strict criteria for a young wife; the younger the better. The rationale given which held good in the times of our parents was that if the age gap is more, as the husband grows older he at least has a wife who is not as old and can look after him. Also, it was considered that women are more attractive physically and more fertile at the ripe age of one’s early 20’s. It sounds to me like picking a fruit from a tree!
While these bring to light the misogynistic beliefs which were prevalent in society and are still not completely erased, things are gradually changing.
The argument that a bigger age gap would lead to issues over time owing to the age factor and cause insecurity on the woman’s part is somehow not very convincing as I believe this could occur in any relationship, even with a lesser age gap. One of the partners starts looking older and feels conscious, resorts to dressing up and behaving like a younger version or may even go to the extent of demanding that the other partner stop acting young and age up. I recall one of our relatives where the man is shorter than his wife – while he has been using a concealed heel in his shoes for many years, the wife always wears flats and crouches her back when walking. Do you get the drift?
As the age gap is slowly closing where you see a feisty 40 year old shake a leg at the pub and a 50 year old run a marathon – at the same time a 20 year old embraces the path of spirituality. The age old notion that defines the set of activities one engages in at a certain age is becoming redundant. As long as two individuals feel that connection and spark and share that common love, differences in age, background and profession are but an artificial barrier.
While the adventurous spirit of the younger partner makes the ride enjoyable, the maturity and cautious nature of the older one helps to sober down and balance the boat of life which is treading over rough waters. Again, who is the free spirited and who is the restrained one shouldn’t really be defined by age as we see that these boundaries are slowly being erased.
The Macrons have shown us a new light, a fairytale romance and have successfully broken the stereotypes in more ways than one. A new chapter shall unfold which will no doubt be very interesting once Emmanuel Macron takes over as President, but that’s another story for another day!
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