Should Muslim Women Become “Cougars?”: 4 Reasons to Consider a Younger Spouse
It’s an age-old adage that a woman is better off marrying a man that is older than her. An older man can provide her with a stable lifestyle. An older man will be financially established, with a solid career, and maybe a house (or at least a down payment for one). Because women mature faster than men, a younger woman is said to have the same EQ as her elder counterpart.
For Muslim women especially, these “advantages” are presented to us like facts. They guide our search, leading us to seek men three to five years older than us. While there certainly is comfort in finding a Prince Charming that is more established, there are also many reasons to give younger guys a chance. Just as every snowflake has its own unique pattern, every man is not the same. Isn’t it possible that a younger man could be ready for marriage too? Why can’t women marry younger men?
Here are four reasons why I think Muslim women should give younger Muslim dudes a chance when seeking love and marriage:
1. Men Get to Marry Younger– So Why Can’t We?
It’s funny how this is even still a topic of debate. After centuries, and movements, and culture shifts, women still get tsk-tsked for entering romantic relationships with younger men. Yet, a man is hardly questioned for his decision to seek out and marry a woman who is ten years his junior. When I’ve questioned the status quo with my male friends or family members, they’ll describe it as “natural,” and even “instinctual” for a man to want to be with a younger woman, often placing the blame on fertility.
In Western society, we hear about celebrities like George Clooney marrying much younger women, without much critique. And yet, when women try to exceed the age expectations, they are teased and called “cougars”. The atmosphere of judgment and shame also exists in cultures that make up the Muslim diaspora in the U.S.
One of my close friends is Palestinian American. When her brother married a woman that was two years older than him, their relatives went wild. They thought it was scandalous that a man would want to be with an “older” woman.
Unfortunately, this sentiment is common in households where there are immigrant parents that are still blinded by cultural delusions that say there is a specific formula for a successful marriage: same ethnicity, same tribe, certain type of family status, and a certain age. News flash: there’s more than one recipe for success!
While we embrace culture for celebrations, dress, and food, we should turn towards Islamic principles and reminders of the sunnah. Didn’t our Prophet Muhammad SWS marry a women almost twenty years older than him? Why are Muslim women today relegated to a different standard?
2. We’re in a Marriage Crisis!
I did a whole photo series about the Muslim marriage crisis. I gathered women from across the U.S to represent some of the biggest issues or “isms” that I feel are preventing marriages in the Muslim community. There are a host of reasons why some women get passed over by potentials. Maybe they’re super educated, or on ambitious career paths, but it’s common knowledge that women are getting passed over by men that are sometimes intimidated by them. If the older men are not appreciative of how amazing you are and can’t embrace all your successes, why not look younger? I think women should widen their age bracket, on the apps or through word of mouth, to include men a few years younger than them to increase the possibility of finding the right guy.
3. Advanced EQ (Emotional Intelligence) Comes from Life Experiences, Not Just Age:
I once volunteered in a refugee camp in Greece. I remember meeting people of all ages– especially the young men– and was in awe of how mature they were. Myself and other twenty and thirty-something women, would be super impressed (and sometimes infatuated) by how these young men who were no more than 20 or 22 looked and acted like they were years or even a decade older. After much thought, we determined that it was based on their experiences. The responsibilities and even trauma they had endured in their young lives, had led them to acting and even looking much older than they were. It was a good reminder that age isn’t everything.
While science may in fact tell us that men mature slower than women, and tend to need more years to improve their EQ, each person’s life experience may lead them to be more mature than their peers. It’s best to not generalize and instead be open to talking to guys that may be a few years younger. If you are both serious about marriage, you’ll be able to dive deep and relatively quickly into the serious questions that will determine compatibility and hopefully maturity.
4. The Younger Muslim Guys Might be More Practicing (aka religious)
I have a theory, that admittingly remains unproven, that the younger dudes (under 27), those who just graduated college, or are still on the path to getting their dream job and are seeking marriage, are more practicing. Harsh? Maybe. But hear me out. I believe the ones that are actively seeking marriage, at a younger age are trying to keep it halal, by searching for a spouse. These are often, not always, the Muslim men who understand the value of marriage and it’s importance in preserving their deen. I think a lot of the men (particularly those who are over 30) and remain unmarried, have had their fair share of relationships and don’t feel the pull to get married. I know that sounds like a harsh generalization, but it’s something I’ve heard and seen in my years of searching and interviewing single Muslims about their experiences. But maybe I’m wrong!
In conclusion, I think Muslim women should push the boundaries of cultural norms and consider younger men as marriage potentials. After all, age is just a number. What’s important is a person's values, how strong their faith is, and how they treat their family. If there is potential for compatibility, age shouldn’t be a barrier to considering marriage.
P.S I just got married to a guy that is one year younger than me and couldn’t be happier, alhumdullilah ;)