Trading Wives

Apparently money does not buy happiness, or even contentment, and real estate mogul and billionaire Andrew Farkas, age 56, is the latest embodiment of this sentiment.  Page Six reports that this New York real estate and banking tycoon divorced his second wife of 15 years and is dating a 22-year-old Harvard student 34 years his junior.

Farkas’ behavior certainly isn’t unique and one could even argue, headline newsworthy, as to be so common. In fact, rich men trading in older wives as if they were race horses getting long in the tooth is something of a cliché. All of which begs the question, why does a major newspaper consider it newsworthy?

Because despite how “progressive” our society has become when it comes to relationships, it is still disturbing and a little shocking when a man in the latter season of his life should choose to behave so unwisely. It’s unseemly. It’s foolish. And we are all secretly shaking our heads.

When a man or woman reaches a certain age, he or she is expected to make less glandular, less carnal decisions, and it makes us uncomfortable when they don’t. It’s easy to overlook the hormonal and hasty indiscretions one makes in his 20s, but there is an unspoken expectation that one will grow up and do the right thing.  There is the expectation that a wiser, older man will keep his contractual obligations to the woman he vowed to love forever despite what lust or disappointment may be lodged in his heart.

But the rich live differently, don’t they? It’s hard to imagine a rural, middle-aged working man trading in his fiftyish wife for a younger model, though it does occasionally happen. Why? Because his lifelong partner is going to take care of him when he is no longer able to make it to the bathroom unassisted and, as a poor man, he can’t afford expensive health care or nursing. Beautiful, new flesh is not going to stick around for his demise. And then there is the question of how does a middle-aged man entertain a 20-year-old plaything without a sizeable bank account?

But all of this is a distraction from the kick in the gut sentiment this headline gives me. At what point does trading in fleshly fantasies become obscene for the mature man? Does Farkas, as others who have completed horse trades, just have overinflated egos that fail to recognize their own waning sexual attraction? It is certainly true that a powerful man can exude a certain viral strength into middle-age, but only up to a certain point.

Jack Nicholson.

It is frightening that so many people, poor and rich alike, fall prey to the lie that their happiness and contentment lies somewhere outside their matrimonial boundaries. But it’s just easier for men such as Farkas, who have the material means and the power, to think that at aged 56, time is still his friend and that the laws of gravity do not apply to him. But it simply isn’t realistic that his happiness is going to be found in chasing young nubile models and students. No doubt, it is going to provide temporary carnal pleasure, but not contentment and happiness.

Farkas posing in 2009 with a bevy of models.

Proverbs 5:18-19 is excruciatingly clear when it speaks of trading in your wife for a newer model. “May your fountain be blessed, and may you rejoice in the wife of your youth. As a loving hind and a graceful doe, let her breasts satisfy you at all times; be exhilarated always with her love.”

“Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” (Ecc. 9:9)

God clearly speaks of a loving wife as a reward, not a sexual object to be used and discarded when the bloom of youth has faded. Proverbs 5:21-23 speaks of the end result a man such as Farkas will ultimately experiences when he chooses to trade up for a trophy wife. “For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths. His own iniquities will capture the wicked, and he will be held with the cords of his sin. He will die for lack of instruction, and in the greatness of his folly he will go astray.”

Reducing a spouse’s worth based upon the age of her flesh makes a mockery of the institution of marriage. Marriage is not just a piece of paper or a civil ceremony, it is a three-cord covenant made between a man, woman, and God.  “Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. A poor yet wise lad is better than an old and foolish king who no longer knows how to receive instruction.…” (Ecc. 4:12)

Farkas certainly meets the criteria of an old and foolish king in this proverb. I am sure his grown children, who are older than the student he is currently dating, is embarrassed by his behavior, and rightly so. I am weary of living in a society who’s values only run skin deep, pun intended.

When will the baby boomers stop making it all about them, frantically trying to hang onto their youth, arguably even at their own expense. And pardon the expression to those puritanical Christians who may find this crass and distressing, but when does the mature man stop thinking with his dick? Reign well my wrinkled and flawed sister.