How many years older or younger are you than your spouse? The answer could help toward predicting the chances of marital success according to a research study from Emory University. The study reports that same age is best, and as little as three years difference can make a marriage less stable. Of course, there are other factors that contribute to marital satisfaction as well, such as length of time you dated prior to your marriage, whether you have children and your financial situation. The idea of an older man marrying a younger woman, or an older women marrying a younger man may sound ideal in theory, but it in practice it is much more challenging.
What is the age difference where a cause of concern should be especially noted? According to the study, a gap of ten years increased the likelihood of divorce by 39%. Statistics are not our destiny though, and I know and work with couples that are ten years apart in age or more and have a great relationships. However, it is important to understand that marriage is a 100-100 percent partnership and differences in age also mean differences in life experiences, communication styles, and reference points. It’s easier to connect and feel understood when someone can relate to your life experiences and reference points. For example, social media is a relatively new technology and has changed communication completely. Someone who is forty remembers when it didn’t exist, but someone who is twenty may not. Communication difficulties are the number one reason marriages divorce.
A significant age difference doesn’t make a relationship any less meaningful though, and if you are married or wanting to marry someone significantly older or younger than you, there are things you can do that will help minimize the challenges.
- Trust your gut. Most couples when interviewed knew whether or not their age was a problem before they married. If you want children and your partner is older, it may present problems. Consider how you or they may change. No matter how you feel about each other now, is it wise to marry someone you cannot relate to with life experiences? Marriage requires much more than love.
- Understand that others will talk, so you have to be fully committed to your reasons for choosing one another as a life partner. You may lose friends over your decision as well as family. Make sure you are strong enough to endure the opinions of others.
- Don’t use age difference as an excuse for conflict or problems in the marriage. When you give more focus to age differences within the marriage you make it a larger problem than it may be.
- Join groups or seek out friends who are similar to you for marriage support. An age difference becomes more apparent when your couple friends are all young or all older. The more mixed ages you are with, the more support you will gain.
Age differences are one of the variables that predict divorce, but certainly not the most important one. Characteristics such as trust, commitment, loyalty and ability to communicate are extremely important. Knowing yourself well, and what you want in marriage along with pre-marital education helps you create a healthy relationship no matter what your age.