Buzz Aldrin has been promoting his new book, Mission to Mars: My Vision for Space Exploration, which details his plan to have space travel and a permanent presence on the Red Planet by the 2030s. As controversial as that may be for some, he made just as many headlines when the former astronaut started dating a woman just months after his divorce from his wife of 23 years, Lois Driggs Cannon — his third wife.
For some, the question was, what is he doing with someone 30 years his junior? Girlfriend Michelle Sucillon was 51 and Aldrin was 81 at the time. As a society we tend to be skeptical whenever a couple’s ages are so far apart, but I’m not sure why; there are certainly enough relationships in which the couples are about the same age that don’t last, either. If you’re wondering what they could possibly have in common, you might also want to question if that’s the only “proper” reason for a couple to be together (something Susan Pease Gadoua and I address in The New I Do, which will be out in the fall).
The bigger question, however, is why do people rush into a relationship so soon after leaving one? And while both men and women are guilty of that, more men say “I do” again after divorce, and they’re quicker to say it, too. Perhaps not as quickly as actor and now new daddy Mark-Paul Gosselaar — he proposed to Catriona McGinn just three months after his divorce from Lisa Ann Russell was finalized — but certainly fast enough for people to wonder, why in the world do you want to get into something you just got out of?
For Emily V. Gordon, a therapist and Huffington Post blogger, it may because men don’t have the sort of support women do post-divorce:
“In my experience as a therapist and as a friend, it seems that the majority of the breakup resources available are for women and not men. Women, who tend to be more vocal about their emotional struggles, are the squeaky wheel that gets the grease from friends, from online communities, from books, and from therapeutic approaches. Women are encouraged to go on an emotional journey of self-care after a divorce, while men are expected to need help learning how to cook and parent on their own. When you Google “how men handle divorce,” many of the links advise women on what to do if their husbands become violent during the divorce process. Why is there so little focus on how men can heal after a divorce?”
It’s a valid question, considering that divorced men have twice the risk of suicide than married men.
I’m not sure how many women “go on an emotional journey of self-care after a divorce,” but a period of introspection and yes, self-care is a natural reaction to something as tumultuous as a divorce. For women, typically the caregivers and the one in charge of emotional caretaking as well, it makes sense that many women are often a lot happier after divorce; all that care-taking takes its toll, emotionally and physically. Since more middle-aged women seek divorce then men, why would they be eager to get back into the same situation? That may explain why of those age 45 or older, a third of men remarry and just a quarter of women do.
But even the women who would happily marry again have a harder time; while having kids makes remarriage challenging for men and women, it’s worse for women. More men aren’t too keen on marrying a woman with kids and creating an instant family. Since more divorced moms have custody of their children, it can put them out of the dating loop — but not divorced dads.
But some men, obviously, are OK with blending families or even starting new families, which is surprising considering how many men complain — rightfully so — about paying alimony (often for life) and child support, often for children they can barely see. So why are so many men eager to get hitched again — especially when second marriages have a 67 percent chance of divorce?
U.K. columnist Lucy Cavendish wonders if men aren’t incurable romantics. Otherwise, she says, how can you explain why a man who has been badly burned in a divorce — think Paul McCartney, who married wife No. 3, Nancy Shevell in 2011 — would want to risk it all again?
Maybe it’s because marriage has its share of benefits for men — married men tend to be healthier and better off financially than unmarried men. Or maybe some men just don’t want to be alone while many midlife divorced women want to have an Eat, Pray, Love experience and rediscover and reinvent themselves, without having to take care of anyone other than themselves. And let’s face it; men typically find it a lot easier to attract a wider age range of women — just like Buzz Aldrin did.
But maybe, as Cavendish notes, men just like to be married.
- Why do divorced men marry faster than divorced women?
- Do men like marriage more than women do?
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