Wicked Wednesday: May-December Romances

Edith here, blog wrangler for the month, happy we made it to the end of May! 

Many years ago I was chatting with a poet friend, the now-late Miriam Goodman, who was about fifteen years older than me. She mentioned that she’d had a May-December romance. I’d never heard the term, so she explained that it was when one partner was significantly older than the other. In her case, Miriam had been the older one. I saw one definition that said the gap has to be eleven years or more to be a real May-December situation. In our culture, the man being the older one of the couple is a cliche, but certainly it happens in the other order as well as with same-gender couples.


So let’s talk about May-December romances. Do you have stories from your own life or those of friends who are/were in such a relationship? How about fictional instances in books, movies, TV shows where one partner is a couple of decades older or younger? [Because we try to avoid politics on this blog, let’s omit the current residents of the White House. Let’s not talk about celebrities, either.] Go!

Sherry: It seems like lots of classic literature has May-December romances. I haven’t read Rebecca for a very long time, but it’s hard to forget how young Rebecca seemed and how old her husband was. Although for the time period that wasn’t so unusual.

Julie: Jane Eyre was also much younger than Mr. Rochester. Lots of those romances in novels. I will admit I was always a fan of Cary Grant and Fred Astaire, both of whom had much younger screen partners late in their careers. It never really bothered me, though I will admit seeing Fred and Leslie Caron in Daddy Long Legs recently gave me a start. She was so, so young. And the story celebrates a May/December romance that doesn’t necessarily age well.

Barb: I do have a few friends in my own life who meet the eleven year definition (which I had never heard before). Shall we give a shout out to French Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron and his wife, Brigitte?

Edith: Sure! I was in such a relationship for a couple of years, with a man more than twenty years older than me. Sweetest guy I’ve ever known. We used to go walking in a beautiful cemetery and find gravestones of couples with similar age gaps. It ended because I very much wanted to have children and he’d already had four with his ex-wife.

Readers: Who do you know? Who are your favorite May-December couples from literature or the screen?

26 Thoughts

  1. My late husband was 23 years older than I. I think it is easier for the younger person in such a pairing because usually many of the cultural differences will have been addressed in history classes. It is more difficult for the older person who probably has not been paying close attention to all the vagaries of youth culture experienced by the younger person.

  2. I know a few couples where women married older men. Only one reverse: my father knew a man from a nearby town who (after growing up, of course) had married his first grade teacher. That’s a little boy’s fantasy come true!

  3. I have three women friends married to men significantly younger than they. In one case, it’s 13 years. And my husband’s cousin, who is 11 years older than he, has lived with her boyfriend for over 10 years, and he’s the same age as my husband. Her daughter also lives with someone who is almost 10 years younger.

    And yes, Emanuel Macron, and his much older wife. Wasn’t she his teacher when he was young?

    My dad’s parents were a May/December marriage. It always astonished me to think that Grandpa was already 18 and a man when Grandma was born.

  4. My husband and I are my favorite May/December couple. We don’t meet the 11 year definition as he is 10 years older than me BUT my birthday is in May and his birthday is in December☺. So I believe that qualifies us. Lol. We are actually quite disgustingly in LOVE as many people tell us…not so much what we say but how we look at each other and how respectfully we treat each other. Several friends and family members have said if the world treated each other like we do, it would be a beautiful place. Oddly enough, we don’t try or find it complicated…it just….is. Fresh flowers every week for 16 years…hand holding, silly songs, dance competitions…it’s just us. We both know one day one of us will be left here without the other and we feel blessed for our time together and feel our love is strong enough to get us through anything. I guess it is a beautiful thing.

  5. In the book of Daddy Long Legs, which I know well, the age difference older man/younger woman is about 14 years and the unusual story makes it entirely believable and charming. Plus it was very early 20th century. Different times. In the movie, Astaire was about 30 years older than Caron, maybe more! Creepy and weird. Yet it does not seem creepy ( to me, at least) in Sabrina, another movie from the 50’s. In The Graduate, Mrs. Robinson is actually only late 30s or early 40’s. She dropped out of college because she was pregnant with Elaine, now in college. Doesn’t sound that old now!

      1. Do you mean Daddy Long Legs? It’s much loved book, originally published in 1912, about a gifted orphan sent to a posh girls college by a mysterious benefactor. Except for the prologue, it’s all told in her monthly letters to the benefactor. Humorous and sweet. The author (Jean Webster) was involved in social causes and her underlying goal was to make the point that a young people from unpromising background could benefit from increased opportunities. ( I know – shocking!) You’d love it.

  6. My hubby and I are close to the May-December cut-off of 11 years. He is 10 years older than me. Like Jodi, we are more in love now than when we married 43 years ago. My best friend is 14 years older than her hubby. They celebrated their 25th anniversary some time ago (I forget exactly when.) It’s not for everyone, but it can and does work. And Rebecca is one of my all-time favorite stories.

  7. I’ve been in a delightful May-December marriage for nearly 40 years–and I’m the 13 year older December!

  8. I can’t think of any friends I have who meet that definition, although I do have some good friends who are close. It think it is 8 years, but I could be wrong.

    There was a May-December romance in a show I was watching last night. But since it was Murder, She Wrote, you can guess that it didn’t end well.

  9. My grandmother was 9 years older than my grandfather. It was the second marriage for both of them & lasted over 40 years until my grandmother passed away.

  10. I think a long time ago it was a very normal thing, think kings and their super young queens. I have been in a May-December relationships, both ways. Probably 2 where I was the younger one and one where I was the older one. While all three were fun, I do not think they would have lasted even with great effort. I have known of several in my family’s history that have lasted though.

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