Emmanuel Macron, regulation hottie, was elected president of France over the weekend in a landslide victory. Most people are excited because they see this as a sign that France is rejecting the populist, far-right agenda of his opponent, Marine Le Pen. Oh, and like I mentioned, he's pretty attractive (maybe not quite on the level of one Justin Trudeau, but still)—and he's married to a woman 24 years his senior, which is garnering quite the media attention.
The subject of today's discussion is the Freeform channel-level soap opera that is Emmanuel Macron's personal life. Seriously, if this were on cable I would tune in every week. See, Macron is married to Brigitte Trogneux, a former teacher and heir to a macaron company (yes, really), which is basically the most French thing I've ever heard. She's also more than 20 years older than him, smashing everyone's preconceived notions about relationships. He's 39, she's 64. Get it, girl.
While their age gap is enough to scandalize many Americans, in France people are much more relaxed about matters of love. Which is a fantastic departure from this whole concept that women aren't allowed to age and older women can't be objects of desire. (Seriously, Jamie Denbo from Orange Is the New Black was recently told that, at the ripe old age of 43, she was too old to play the wife of a 57-year-old actor. WT actual F?) Also, it was Macron, not Trogneux, who hard-core pursued the relationship. Into it.
The Washington Post interviewed a few French women about Macron's relationship with an older woman, and they were here for it. Martine Bergossi, the owner of a second-hand couture shop in Paris, told the Post, "Why can't we marry younger men? I date them all the time… It's normal to see men with younger women. So it's rather great to see the opposite.” And CNN notes that most tabloid coverage of Trogneux has been more curious than critical.
Buuuuuuuut: There is something that should be mentioned that makes me feel a tiny bit weird. The couple met when Macron was 15 and Trogneux was his drama teacher. Quel scandale! They haven't disclosed when their relationship actually started, but reportedly Macron told her that he loved her when he was 17. In a move straight out of a Jane Austen novel, his parents shipped him away to keep them apart. To be fair, this was after his parents asked Trogneux to wait until he was at least 18. To which she reportedly replied, "I can't promise anything." Before he left, Macron said he would marry her. Is this Shakespeare or real life?
Macron made good on that promise in 2007, a year after she divorced her husband (oh yeah, she was married with three children). "Love took everything in its path and led me to divorce. It was impossible to resist him," she told Paris Match magazine.
Before asking her to marry him, Macron got the approval of her children, which is sweet but probably also weird because he literally went to school with one of them. But apparently her kids were totally down with it and even helped him during his campaign (remember, the French are très chill about this stuff).
It's an unconventional love story, for sure—one that's fraught with drama and politics and speculation. "Nobody would call it unusual if the age difference was reversed," Macron has said. "People find it difficult to accept something that is sincere and unique.”
TBH, their relationship seems strong, loving and supportive. Macron credits Trogneux for his "conversion" to feminism and has promised to defend maternity leave and equal pay. He has also said that half of the candidates running for En Marche, his political party, will be women.
Maybe American politicians could benefit from a French approach to matters of la tendresse. (Then again, maybe we're being overly optimistic.)