Les Francaises, they are not like us. French President-elect Emanuel Macron is married to a woman 24 years his senior, 64-year-old Brigitte Trogneux Macron. She used to be his (married) high school drama teacher. Her oldest daughter was one of young Macron’s classmates.
And in France, this is not that big a deal.
American politicians have been known to have large age gaps in their marriages: First lady Melania Trump, who is 47, is nearly 24 years younger than her husband.
American politicians have even married their teachers: The first wife of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich, Jackie, was his high school math teacher. When they wed, he was 19 and she was 26.
But the Macrons are different: At 39, he is the youngest president-elect in France’s history, and their marriage reverses the usual May-December stereotype of a man marrying a much younger woman.
One reason this has caused less controversy in France than it would have in this country, aside from the usual French sangfroid about matters of the heart, is a savvy two-year public relations campaign that was managed by a Paris media agent and designed to “normalize” the unorthodox marriage in the eyes of the public.
Macron has told journalists that the relationship between him and his wife began when they coauthored a play together when he was her student. His family “took it badly” when they found out, he told the Independent newspaper, but he was not deterred.
The two finally wed in 2007, after her divorce from her first husband — making him the stepfather of his former classmate, Laurence, and Brigitte’s two younger children. He was 29 and she was 54.
At his wedding reception, he told his new stepchildren: “Thanks for accepting us, a not-quite-normal couple.”