Recipe for a Happy, Lasting Marriage Does Not Include Cougars

BlogHer Original Post

1 Man, older and less educated than the woman
1 Woman, at least 5 years younger (be sure to check freshness date!) and smarter than the man
0 Couples of the same sex
0 Previous divorces
0 Cougars

Place man and woman in same home. Stir. Voila! Enjoy your happy, lasting marriage!

Or so claims the newest study on what makes good marriages, according to the BBC. (I love that the headline says that men should choose younger, smarter women in order to be happy, but it doesn't say whether this makes women happy or not.)

Using only the soundest scientific methodology, researchers at Bath University studied interviews of more than 1,500 married people or couples who were in a long term relationship. Following up with 2/3 of these couples, researchers found that men married to women at least five years older than them (formerly referred to as "hags" or "shrews," but now re-labeled "cougars" - more on that in a moment), were more than three times as likely to be divorced than couples who were the same age. Couples in which the male is older than the lady, as nature intended, have higher "odds of marital bliss." Oh, and sometimes couples choose partners "on the basis of love, physical attraction, similarity of taste, beliefs and attitudes, and shared values." But whatever. That's not important.

Upon reading this article, two things crossed my mind: 1. Why the fuck do people spend money doing inane "research" like this? The amount of money that is wasted just blows my mind. In fact, the article links to two other exciting stories about marriage and happiness, which reinforce the notion that we could more efficiently use money as fireplace tinder (Marriage makes both sexes happy and Wedded bliss 'only lasts a year'.); and 2. This is possibly some of the worst headline-not-matching-article-stories I've read in a long time. I'll never stop recommending a 2008 article in Bitch magazine by Beth Skwarecki (who writes the Science and miscellanea blog - awesome!) on how to "deconstruct bunk reporting". It is a must-read for anyone who cares about how the mainstream media promotes gender stereotypes through their headlines.

I wonder if these magic relationships work better because these smart women realize that a) statistically speaking, men tend to die younger than women; and b) statistically speaking, the older their husbands are, the sooner they are likely to die, leaving them free to do whatever they want for a longer period of time. Hence they are more cheerful or something, which makes their dim husbands feel good, so everyone is happier. Which reminds me that, once again, I screwed up big time. I married a dude who is not only seven months younger than me, but a lot smarter than I am. We will be together for 15 years in February. What a sham life I've been leading! Maybe we are happy because he looks like he is about five years older than me. Seriously, someone should do a study to see if a couple is less likely to get divorced if the husband looks older than the wife. That would totally change everything!

Judy Grundstrom at Just JudyJudyJusy is so on the same page as me with this. She wrote:

The Telegraph’s headline was, “Men should marry young, smart women, say scientists” and the BBC’s was, “ ‘Younger Wife’ for Marital Bliss”. This not only takes the position that readers of both of these publications are male, but that men better take note at this important new research. I can only imagine the headlines if the research told women to marry younger men, possibly, “Look Out For Cougar Attacks As Women Need Young Husbands”.

Yes, speaking of cougars.... Linda Franklin is the Real Cougar Woman, and she invites all cougars and cougar wanna-bes to join the fabulous world of cougardom at The Real Cougar Woman: "This is the place where fabulous females over 40 come to unleash their Real Cougar." Assuming that marrying a man who looks at least five years older than me works the same way as marrying a man who actually is five years older than me (and I will be shattered if a pricey study does not happen to confirm my anecdote and invalidate the relationship of every woman who married an older man who looks younger than her), I will not have the chance to join Franklin's cougar community because I am likely to remain married when I am 40. Bummer. But have no fear. I am also not a mom, so I am not eligible to participate in what is sure to be the greatest event ever in New York City - the "Annual New York's Hottest Mom Contest For Cougars Over 35 and Kittens Under."

The contest is sponsored by Q104.3 (which is New York's oldies station!). Their press release notes that this contest is today in Times Square! Like, for reals! Men, if you decide to go, whether to seek a deceptively young-looking wife (since 35 is sooooo fucking old) or one who is legitimately at least five years younger than you, "There will be a cougars category awarded for moms over 35 and a Kittens for those sexy moms that are under. Hundreds are expected to attend and judge the annual mom-fest which will bring together some of New York City's finest looking mothers."

Hopefully, these moms will never have been married though, as a past divorce increases chances for a future one, according to our informative friends at Bath University. I do not know, however, if one factor might cancel out another. Like, if the wife is more than five years younger than the husband, but looks at least half her age and has a PhD, if that at all negates the effects of a past divorce. These variables are so complicated. I hope someone decides to study that issue soon.

One thing is for sure - Mindy at The Mommy Blog is not going to enter the contest, nor will she schedule media appearances with the winners. "I mean, really. For fuck’s sake," she wrote. Yeah. I'm with Mindy. And I'm going to commission a study on the impact of winning the title of "Hottest Cougar Mom" on marriage.

Suzanne also blogs at Campaign for Unshaved Snatch (CUSS) & Other Rants and is reliving her youth at Always. Off the Beaten (Subway) Track, her book about unusual things to see and do in NYC, does not include any Hot Cougar Contests or Times Square.

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