Recently Lori Lowe posted Risky Business: Woman Marrying Younger Man over on Marriage Gems. What jumped out at me was the explication of earlier death given by the man who did the study. “Drefahl suggests women who marry men who are significantly different in age have increased life stresses and reduced social support, as a result of the perception of having violated social norms.” (emphasis mine)
There’s plenty of evidence that stress kills, and no lack of evidence that loneliness also leads to a shorter life, so Drefahl’s hypothesis seems valid. I also think we can detach his thinking from the cause of the stress and isolation that existed in his study – meaning I would expect wives who are stressed and/or lonely to die at younger ages than those who are neither. What’s more, I would expect stressed and isolated women to be less happy and less healthy.
If I’m right on this, then we should be concerned about the our bride’s social life and how much stress she is dealing with. Her loneliness and unhappiness may be far more than just sad, they may be warning signs of future physical or mental illness. Be aware. Encourage her to have friends and to spend time with them. Help her deal with stress, or find help for her to deal with stress.