Lay Off Hugh Hefner: May-December Unions Fine
Slate columnist: Big age gaps don't mean bad marriages
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 29, 2010 1:41 PM CST
Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris in April.   (AP Photo/Matt Sayles, File)

(Newser) – The usual complaints emerged with the news that Hugh Hefner, all 84 years of him, got engaged to 24-year-old Crystal Harris. You know the ones—gold digger, "rich old horndog," etc., writes Christopher Beam at Slate. Instead of joining the chorus, Beam offers a defense of the May-December relationship. "Presumably, at least some of the time, these arrangements fit each person's needs better than marrying someone the same age would," he writes.

Besides, there's scant evidence to suggest that a big age gap is inherently bad for marriage, and there are plenty of high-profile couples to counter any bad examples. All relationships have "imbalances" of some sort, writes Beam. "The age gap is different only in that it may be more visible." So save your breath complaining, he suggests. "You're arguing against an ancient biological imperative for men to marry women of child-bearing age, and the need for material security in which to raise those children." And anyway, he concludes, "even if it is a mistake, one partner is likely to expire before the marriage does."