Relationships between older men and much younger women are considerably more common than ones between older women and younger men.
A new study has it that a male partner that is older than a woman by six years or more is bad news for the woman’s physical, mental and emotional health. The study reports:
“The spousal age gap has been associated with survival probabilities, although differently by gender, having a younger spouse is beneficial for men but detrimental for women, whereas having an older spouse is detrimental for both.”
Due to traditional gender role norms and higher life expectancy, women tend to easily become primary caregiver for their older partner.
Since older men normally have more health concerns according to the study, the wife or partner tends to take on more responsibility which affects intimacy, mental health and leads to fatigue and stress.
Moreover, living with a partner who is in bad health or practices poor health habits, can doubly affect the woman.
“Women’s health is more sensitive to the characteristics of the partner and household as more of the variability in female health status was explained by the tested variables. Co-residing with a partner not in good health is associated with almost double the probability of not having good health,”
the study reported.
The study adds that since couples typically to have similar tendencies and behaviour, women are more vulnerable to have certain destructive habits take a toll on them on top of being caretakers.
For example, it’s more difficult to quit smoking or drinking if your partner does too. And if they are into eating healthy, it might rub off on you.
When an older man is in bad physical shape, the woman’s workload increases, contrary to when the woman is in poor physical shape.
When the woman is in poor health, her relatives, especially females, tend to take up the load, the study reports. The study reads:
“There’s a 72 % probability of a woman’s health deteriorating if her husband is in poor health.”
Merging lifestyles does not mean merging body types, and while one partner might have good metabolism to sustain junk food and beer with a relatively constant body weight, the other might suffer.
In 2015, researchers at the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health discovered that if one partner hits the weekly physical exercise requirement, there are higher chances the other one will do the same.
Another study found that people in relationships with obese partners have a 40% chance of gaining weight. It might be harder to change the lifestyle of an older male partner.
Health is a two-way street
Sharing an emotional connection and sharing a bed with an unhealthy partner will affect your health in the long run, so couples are advised to workout ways of being healthy together.
“Our result therefore reinforces the importance of involving the patient’s partner as this would ease implementing specific interventions to achieve moderate habit changes (and may also benefit from it),”
the study concludes.
You might have to set rules and reinforce routines towards better health to help him adopt a healthy lifestyle. Also encourage them to be more independent so that you can have space and time to take care of yourself.