There’s an amusing (if perhaps mildly unkind) joke doing the rounds at present and it goes like this: If a man is remarrying for the second time, you can guess the age of his new wife through a simple mathematical calculation: just halve the man’s age and add on six years! Yes, you guessed it; men marrying for the second time round are likely to have a much younger spouse than they did the first time.
And that’s not all – men are also likely to marry again sooner than women in similar circumstances. One study found that in the two years following the death of a spouse, 19% of women and 61% of men were either remarried or involved in a romantic attachment. But before you start feeling sorry for all those women who appear to be coming second best in the race to marital happiness, think again – because the feminine delay in getting re-hitched is as much about choice as opportunity.
Many men, it seems, make a conscious decision to re-marry after losing a wife through death or divorce. This may be because they have been less involved in the day to day running of their family household than their partner. Suddenly without a soul mate to remember family birthdays, organise get-togethers with relatives, book holidays, and arrange social outings with friends, a man on his own can feel both lost and lonely. Naturally, he quite soon looks for a new partner to fill the void in his life.
On the other hand, women who have lost a husband through death or divorce very often make a conscious decision not to commit to a new partner too soon, if at all. Research shows that, emotionally, women very often come off second best in divorce stakes. The formal unravelling of their marriage takes its toll which is one of the reasons why they are not keen on the possibility of going through it all again. This may be a wise choice given that research suggests 60% of second marriages fail.
On a more positive note, women who have survived a divorce often find themselves discovering a new sense of independence and freedom they never before enjoyed. No longer looking to another for support, they gain in personal confidence and want to spend time experimenting with making their own life choices. If they do decide to re-marry, it’s unlikely to be in a hurry.
But although we can explain why, on average, men re-marry faster than women, how can we explain the results of the mathematical equation we talked about earlier? For the fact is that almost 40% of men marrying for the send time round have partners who are between six and 10 years younger than themselves while only 15% of men marrying for the first time find themselves in the same situation.
Some theorise the younger second wife situation occurs because women whose biological clocks are running out (and who therefore have little time left in which to have children) are instinctively drawn to older men for their genes! Older men have already proven themselves capable of siring and raising offspring, and whether or not they are widowed or divorced, they are likely to be financially independent – yet another big plus in the marriage stakes. For young women in pursuit of a family, a previously married older man is a catch and a half. And in the heady excitement of getting to know him, she is unlikely to think ahead to the implications down the track of caring, not only for babies, but a husband twenty years older than herself!
As for those who think men with significantly younger wives have life on a plate – next time you meet one of these older fathers, ask him how he’s enjoying the sleepless nights!