May-December Marriage -- Marriage Age Difference

Some Prefer to Use the Term December-May Marriage

Couple embracing on beach, looking in to distance
Mike Harrington/Taxi/Getty Images

Definition: Generally considered to be an unconventional choice, a May-December marriage is one in which one spouse is significantly older than the other spouse.

Significantly older is usually considered 11 years or more age difference.

"May" refers to the younger spouse in the spring of life, while "December" refers to the older spouse who is in what is described as the winter of life.

While most May-December marriages are generally accepted by society, now and then such a marriage creates a negative response.

Some examples of marriages considered to be scandalous and controversial include Woody Allen's marriage to Soon-Yi Previn, the adopted daughter of his previous wife and the second marriage of Anna Nicole Smith. The marriage of teenager Courtney Stodden to a man 35 years older had many wondering if the marriage was a publicity stunt to help her acting career.

May-December Relationships  

  • Anna Nicole Smith and J. Howard Marshall II. J. Howard, +63. The marriage ended when J. Howard died in 1995.
  • Tony Randall and Heather Harlan. Tony, +50. Their marriage ended in 2004 when Tony died.
  • Celeste Holm and Frank Basile. Celeste, +46. Marriage ended when Celeste died in 2012.
  • Dick Van Dyke and Arlene Silver. Dick, +46.
  • Tony Curtis and Jill Vandenberg. Tony, +42. Marriage ended when Tony died in 2010.
  • Phil Spector and Rachelle Short. Phil, +41.
  • Tony Bennett and Susan Crow. Tony, +40.
  • T.S. Eliot and Valerie Fletcher. Tom, +38.
  • Wendi Deng and Rupert Murdoch. Rupert, +38. He filed for divorce in June 2013 after 14 years of marriage.
  • Wende and James Doohan. James, +37. Marriage ended when James died in 2005.
  • Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchison. Doug, +35.
  • Woody Allen and Soon-Yi Previn. Woody, +35.
  • Clint and Dina Eastwood. Clint, +35. Marriage ended in divorce in December 2014 after 18 years of marriage.
  • Faith and Lee Majors. Lee, +35.
  • Martha Raye and Mark Harris. Martha, +33.
  • Ed McMahon and Pam Hurn. Ed, +32. Marriage ended when Ed died in 2009.
  • Elizabeth and Dennis Kucinich. Dennis, +31.
  • Davy Jones and Jessica Pacheco. Davy, +31. Marriage ended when Davy died in 2012.
  • Edward James Olmos and Lymari Nadal. Edward, +31.
  • Andy Griffith and Cindi Knight. Andy, +29. Marriage ended when Andy died in 2012.
  • Frank Sinatra and Mia Farrow. Frank, +29. Marriage ended in divorce in 1968.
  • Chuck Norris and Gena O'Kelley. Chuck, +28.
  • Graca Machel and Nelson Mandela. Nelson, +27.
  • Kelsey Grammer and Kayte Walsh. Kelsey, +26.
  • Alec Baldwin and Hilaria Lynn Thomas. Alec, +26.
  • Norman Mailer and Norris Church. Norman, +26. The marriage ended when Norman died in 2007.
  • Paul McCartney and ex-wife Heather Mills. Paul, +26. The marriage ended in divorce in 2008.
  • Rene Angelil and Celone Dion. Rene, +26.
  • Zsa Zsa Gabor and Frederic Prinz von Anhalt. Zsa Zsa, +26.
  • Rod Stewart and Penny Lancaster. Rod, +26.
  • Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall. Bogie, +25.  The marriage ended in 1957 when Bogart died.
  • Donna and Jimmy Dean. Jimmy, +25. The marriage ended in 2010 when Jimmy died.
  • Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones. Michael, +25.
  • Rod Stewart and ex-wife Rachel Hunter. Rod, +25.
  • Ernie Borgnine and Tova Traesnaes. Ernie, +24. The marriage ended in 2012 when Ernie died.
  • Ivan Zelnicek Trump and Rossano Rubicondi. Ivana, +24.
  • Donald Trump and Melania Knauss. Donald, +24.
  • Jeri and Fred Thompson. Fred, +24.
  • Duchess of Alba and Alfonso Diez. Cayetana, +24.
  • Glen Campbell and Kim Woollen. Glen, +23.
  • Pam Shriver and George Lazenby. George, +23. The marriage ended in divorce in 2008.
  • Victoria Reggie and Ted Kennedy. Ted, +22. Their marriage ended when Ted died in 2009.
  • Harrison Ford and Calista Flockhart. Harrison, +22.
  • Peter Falk and Shera Danese. Falk, +22. The marriage ended in 2011 when Peter died.
  • Bruce Willis and Emma Heming. Bruce, +22.
  • Candy and Aaron Spelling. Aaron, +22. The marriage ended in 2006 when Aaron died.
  • Warren Beatty and Annette Bening. Warren, +21.
  • Sophia Loren and Carlo Ponti. Carlo, +21. The marriage ended when Carlo died in 2007.
  • Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. Diego, +21. The married ended in 1954 when Frida died.
  • Prince Albert II of Monaco and Princess Charlene. Albert, +20.
  • Nicolas Cage and Alice Kim. Nicolas, +20.
  • Francesa Annis and Ralph Fiennes. Francesa, +19.
  • Amber Tamblyn and David Cross. David, +19.
  • Mary Tyler Moore and Dr. Robert Levine. Mary, +18.
  • Jerry Seinfeld and Jessica. Jerry, +18.
  • Tommy Lee Jones and Dawn Laurel. Tommy Lee, +18.
  • Jack Klugman and Peggy Crosby. Jack, +18. The marriage ended in 2012 when Jack died.
  • Dennis and Kimberly Quaid. Dennis, +18. The marriage ended in 2012 when Kimberly filed for divorce.
  • Paul McCartney and Nancy Shevell. Paul, +17.
  • Bill O'Reilly and Maureen McPhilmy. Bill, +17.
  • Cindy and John McCain. John, +17.
  • Evelyn and Pat Morita. Pat, +17. The marriage ended in 2005 when Pat died.
  • Danica Patrick and Paul Hospenthal. Paul, +16. The marriage ended in divorce in 2012.
  • Nigella Lawson and Charles Saatchi. Charles, +16.
  • Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes. Tom, +16. Katie and Tom were divorced in July 2012.
  • Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher. Demi, +15. The marriage ended in 2011 when Demi announced their divorce.
  • Geena Davis and Dr. Reza Jarrahy. Geena, +15.
  • Hosni and Suzanne Mubarak. Hosni, +13.
  • Evi and Randy Quaid. Randy, +13.
  • Hugh Jackman and Deborra-Lee Furness. Deborra-Lee, +13.
  • John and Patsy Ramsey. John, +13. Marriage ended when Patsy died in 2006.
  • Matthew and Camila McConaughey. Matthew, +12.
  • Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins. Susan, +12. Their relationship ended in 2009.
  • Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller. Charlie, +12. The marriage ended in 2011 in divorce.
  • Frank Sinatra and Barbara Marx. Frank, +12. The marriage ended in 1998 when Frank died.
  • Jay-Z and Beyonce Knowles. Jay-Z, +12.

 

Also Known As:

  • Age-discrepant unions
  • Age gap relationships
  • Trophy wife
  • Gold digging
  • Grave robbing
  • Robbing the cradle
  • Tadpoling

Alternate Spellings: December-May Marriage

Examples: Here are more examples of May-December relationships:

  • Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon. Mariah, +11.​
  • Madonna and Guy Ritchie. Madonna, +10. Their marriage ended in divorce in 2009.​
  • Sheryl Crow and Lance Armstrong. Sheryl, +9. Their relationship ended in 2009.​
  • Julianne Moore and Bart Freundlich. Julianne, +9.