Thursday, December 2, 2010

Older Men, Younger Women, and Other Trivia


A couple of interesting tidbits flew onto my radar recently. One is a study done by the Max Planck Institute in Germany that reports a man who marries a woman 15-17 years younger than he is, cuts his risk of early death by 20%. Why this is the case was outside the study parameters and will have to await further research, but we can still speculate, can't we? Sure, why not.

One possibility the authors suggest is, men who are able to attract young women do so on the basis of natural selection. In other words, they tend to be in better health, maintain their youth well, and pursue active lifestyles. Genetics probably plays a role here, too. In other words, these are the guys who are more likely to live longer anyway and the addition of a sweet young wife only improves their chances. They also point out she may contribute to his overall health as a result of simply being happy together. Basically, the authors really don't know why things work out this way, they just note, on the basis of their data, that they do.

According to my predisposition, one thing the study does rather well is debunk the notion that for no other reason than the fact that a guy happens to be older, you can count on him knock, knock, knocking on heaven's door sometime in the nearer future. I like that, as you might imagine. Furthermore, should National Inquirer call, requesting my thoughts on the matter, as long as they promise to include my dog and cat in the accompanying photo, I'd honestly have to say I think it's about hope.

How this applies to an individual couple is an individual matter, but my money's still on hope to come in first place or close to the top of the list. I say that because I believe hope is what keeps us going when nothing else can or will. I've cited Victor Frankl in this regard before and his experiences in the death camps of World War II are difficult to deny. When someone lost hope, i.e. a purpose for living, it wasn't long before life came to a screeching halt. Younger wives and, by extension, children, could well be the reason for an older spouse's longevity. Then again, it may just be good old romance that does the trick. Anyhow, I think the idea is interesting.

The other piece of trivia was a comment I heard on a Cleveland radio station on my way home. 47% of the time, people are happiest when they're day-dreaming. I don't know where this statistic came from; it was something a disc jokey had apparently read and decided to pass along. I was sufficiently intrigued to make a note of it and give it some thought.

If daydreams depict the person we'd like most to be or the life we'd like most to live, they then reflect the hope that keeps these ambitions alive. Sure, we could also be bored and the fantasy of walking on a beach takes us away, like Calgon bath oil beads, but that's hope, too. In between an unpleasant present moment and a fonder far off somewhere, we remind ourselves there's more to life than now.


(Creative Commons image of York Beach, ME by pobrecito33 via Flickr)
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