The Ultimate Comment on Marrying Younger Women

Pablo Casals and his Wife, Martita, 1960 - copyright Lisl Steiner

They used to be called “May/December” romances — a younger woman and an older man. The woman was variously called a “gold digger” or a “trophy wife,” more often the latter these days. Occasionally you see the reverse, an older woman and a younger man — a gigolo, if he is “kept” by her.

The relationship involves a kind of social exchange. The man typically trades his status or wealth, while the woman trades her beauty, youth, and fertility.

When my daughters, both young women, hear about such things, all they can say is “gross.” I don’t think they are thinking about the younger women as being the “gross” part.

There is, however, a less cynical possibility. Pablo Casals, the famous cellist/conductor of the mid-20th century was 81 years old when he married his 20-year-old cello student Martita. But, as Robert Baldock stated in his biography Pablo Casals: “No one who knew them or saw them together during the final years of Casals life could doubt…that they married for love.” Indeed, Casals said that he was drawn to Martita, in part, by her physical resemblance to his mother in her youth.

Still, people being people, some wondered about the match. Casals put it this way in 1970, three years before his death, in Joys and Sorrows: Reflections by Pablo Casals as told to Albert E. Kahn: “I was aware at the time that some people noted a certain discrepancy in our ages — a bridegroom of course is not usually thirty years older than his father-in-law. But Martita and I were not too concerned about what others thought; it was, after all, we who were getting married — not they. If some had misgivings, I can only say that our love has deepened in the intervening years.”

There is an apocryphal portion of the story that is amusing. According to the tale, Casals got engaged and then informed his MD of his upcoming nuptials. The physician was alarmed.

He told Casals, “You’d better think carefully before you do anything like thisthis could be lethal!”

Casals didn’t respond immediately, but appeared to be thoughtfully considering what his doctor had just said.

Finally, he did answer.

“Well, you know, if she dies, she dies.”

Quite vigorous for most of his remaining years, Casals passed away at age 96 in 1973. His wife did not predecease him.

The image above is of Pablo Casals and his wife, Martita 1960 by Lisl Steiner, with permission:

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