In a rare personal interview with the RTL radio station, France's First Lady Brigitte Macron has opened up about the challenges of her relationship with a man 25 years her junior - her husband, President Emmanuel Macron.
The 66-year-old admitted the early stages of their romance "hurt" her children from her first marriage, and that if they had not allowed her to marry Emmanuel, she couldn't have done it.
"At one point, I realised that Emmanuel was my life. And they understood it. [...] We are not a model couple. Of course we are not the ideal couple. Being a couple is complicated, it's an everyday struggle. When you have a big age difference, it can be even more complicated", she said.
Speaking of their age difference, the first lady revealed that she hates the word "cougar", which is normally used to describe an older woman who is attracted to significantly younger men.
"I hate this word! What is this word, it doesn't describe anything! I have always been attracted to men of my age... Emmanuel Macron was an exception", she said, adding that in many ways her 41-year-old husband acted older than her.
Brigitte, a former school teacher who left her first husband for her then-17-year-old student Emmanuel, went on to describe their relationship as "totally fusional" and said that she "deeply" trusted Macron. "We are there for each other 24 hours a day. We are pretty no-holds-barred couple".
In a biography, titled "Brigitte Macron: L'Affranchie [The Unfettered Woman]", written by Maëlle Brun, a friend of Brigitte was cited as saying that "she lost all her friends" because of her romance with a man so young.
39-year-old Brigitte Trogneux was married to a banker and had three children when she first met the 15-year-old Emmanuel in school, where she worked as a teacher. Young Macron immediately fell in love with her and confessed his feelings to her, which she at first did not take seriously.
They became a couple once he turned 18, but his parents were stunned by their relationship and tried to separate them by sending their son away from Amiens to Paris to finish his education there. Nonetheless, Brigitte and Emmanuel reunited once he graduated and tied the knot in 2007 - a few months after Brigitte's first marriage ended in divorce.