There is a revolution happening in the world - old people are getting married to young people. Did you know that the first lady of US, Melania Trump, is 24 years younger than President Donald Trump? Incidentally, it has never surfaced as a big deal.
But then there is hullabaloo about the newly elected France president. Emmanuel Macron, 39, is 24 years younger than Brigitte, his wife of close to 23 years. Now this has raised all the media buzz!
“The woman is evil! She is a witch, look at what she has done to someone the age of his son,” said one commentator.
In fact, Macron’s parents transferred him from his high school to another at the age of 15 when they realised that he was relating ‘inappropriately’ with Brigitte, who was then his teacher. Brigitte was at that time 39 and married with three children. It is not clear whether sex happened between the two at the time. They would later reunite and marry when Macron reached the age of majority.
Irrespective of your views on whether President Trump or Brigitte are moral, ethical, right or wrong, that for me is not the issue. The issue is that I have seen a few men in the Sexology clinic with erectile dysfunction after they hooked up with older ladies. Within a few months, they came to the clinic looking for medicine to firm up their dwindling erections.
A full medical history and physical examination showed no indication of any disease. Laboratory tests were also normal.
The main cause of problems in these men was the silent power struggles in the relationship. The African boy child grows up with a picture of superiority in his head. They are made to understand that they are the heads of their houses. The final decisions on how the family should run lies with them.
HARD TO PLEASE
This understanding is reinforced by common place market jokes of how women are inadequate, hard to please, interested in money and looking for an intelligent, shrewd and wealthy macho man to depend on. For communities that circumcise men, those beliefs are drummed into their minds to the extent that they look at their mothers as lesser human beings.
And so the African man is a conqueror of his family. They portray an ego bigger than life to their wives. The wife must learn to be meek and submissive for the marriage to thrive. In fact, many women avoid situations and discussions that can hurt the egos of their husbands.
It is this scenario that makes it fine for an older man to marry a younger woman. Age gives advantage to the man to take his role of leadership and control at the family level easily. Seeing a woman so desperately dependent boosts the man’s ego.
Marrying an older wife challenges this social order. It challenges the power and authority that the man has in the marriage. The moment this power is challenged, the couple always gets into conflict. Further, a man’s ego is closely connected to his sexual performance. The moment his ego is challenged, most men start losing erections.
There are no tablets for treating ED resulting from family power struggles be it age related or otherwise. The treatment is to support the couple to see the source of the problem and work on it to reverse the ED. This means that the woman accepts to let the man be in power or the man finds other ways to express his ego and control.
Some men resolve this by working to earn more money or getting into more positions of greater power compared to the older wife. This way, then the dynamic of powers brought about by age difference is resolved, the man’s ego is regained and he gets back his erection. Please note I am not insinuating that the France president has made it to his position to correct issues relating to bedroom problems.
What is important here is that socialisation has made us what we are and it will take years to correct the notion that old men marrying young girls is fine but not the other way round. An older woman who marries a young man must be prepared for social turbulence and even rejection in some quarters. Such a woman must ensure that there is a balance in power relations in the family.
The man who marries an older wife must, on the other hand, shift his mindset. You cannot have your cake and eat it. You have to be strong enough to dissociate your ego and erection from the near equal or wife superior family power dynamics.