By Titlayo Olurin
As if romance with a 42-year-old woman were not weird enough, the newly elected French President, Emmanuel Macron, made a vow when he was 17 to marry his Drama teacher.
“At the age of 17, Emmanuel said to me, ‘Whatever you do, I will marry you!’” Brigitte, the former school teacher and now French president’s wife, said to DailyMail.
Oh, but it gets even weirder! 39-year-old Macron, who is said to be the youngest serving president in the history of France, is age mates with Brigitte’s daughter, Laurence, and shared a class with her in Catholic school. This, however, did not deter the former Investment banker from getting married to his love interest – who recently turned 64 – after her divorce from her previous husband in 2007.
Of course, as can be expected, the marriage has sparked off a lot of controversies, with the age gap and the rare reversal of roles being the major bone of contention.
Perhaps if the situation were reversed, there would be fewer controversies. Society often frowns on a relationship where the woman is older but not necessarily on one where the man is older, a fact Macron himself attested to during an interview with Le Parisien, “If I had been 20 years older than my wife nobody would have thought for a single second that I couldn’t be (an intimate partner). It’s because she is 20 years older than me that lots of people say, ‘This relationship can’t be tenable.’”
Macron’s point is further emphasized by the fact that, although he and his wife share the same age gap with US President Donald Trump and his wife, there are more controversies with the former couple than the latter, largely because Macron is the younger spouse and not his wife.
Still, there are times when the huge age gaps in romantic relationships are frowned upon, regardless of who the older partner is. For instance, here in Nigeria, even if Macron were the much older partner, he would be referred to as a sugar daddy – Nigerian parlance for older men in romantic relationships – or a sexual molester preying on young women.
The crux of the matter, though, is not just the age gap or who the older partner is, but the circumstances leading up to the couple’s marriage. Barely two years after Macron met Brigitte when he was 15 and she was his married 40-year-old teacher with three children, they began an unusual romantic relationship. With these circumstances, I am inclined to think that this is a case of the molested marrying his molester, a teacher taking advantage of her student, or an obsession from both parties, even while some have suggested that this can only be true love.
After all, they argue, only love stands the test of time and Macron’s relationship with his wife has stood the test of time. Besides, age is nothing but a number. And you cannot help who you fall in love with, right? Even if it is your married school teacher, who is 25 years older than you are. Maybe, but this particular marriage is anything – anything at all – but conventional.