They say that age is just a number, but how true is that?

Spoiler: no one knows the universal formula for a happy relationship and the ideal age difference between a man and a woman, which will work for absolutely every couple. However, there are statistics and various psychological factors that partners face with a large age difference, as well as studies on this issue.

Today I propose to find out what conclusions scientists have come to, and what, in addition to age, affects the spouses’ chances to live a happy life together.

How did scientists identify the perfect age difference?

The study, the results of which are given in most materials on the question of what age difference between lovers is ideal, was conducted by American scientists Hugo Mialon and Andrew Francis from Emory University, which is located in Atlanta, with the assistance of Randal Olsen from Michigan State University.

Interestingly, the main objective of this research work (in which 3,000 people took part) was not to study the age difference at all. The study was aimed at analyzing the costs of the wedding and engagement and tried to identify whether they affect the longevity of the relationship.

The results showed that this factor is not at all connected with the strength of the union – and a modest wedding without frills has the same chances to become the beginning of a successful marriage as a grandiose celebration.

However, despite the fact that the original topic of the study was different, in the process of studying such factors as the cost of engagement and wedding, the scientists managed to collect other potentially important data. Among them:

  • Age
  • Ethnicity
  • Religiosity
  • The level of education
  • Employment status
  • Income
  • Family size

This allowed the authors to identify the best age difference that helps make relationships stronger.

In view of the foregoing, it is worth noting that this study did not aim to make a final conclusion about ideal age breaks in relationships. Instead, scholars sought to better understand the trends in romantic relationships and the factors associated with them.

Age difference between a man and a woman: study results

In the course of this study, a number of interesting conclusions were made about the durability of the union with a different age gap between partners. Let’s look at them all in order.

Age difference of one year
It was found that relationships involving spouses with a difference in age of one year or less lasted the longest, and they had the lowest chance of a break – only 3%.

Age difference of five years
Married couples with a difference of about five years old have a divorce rate of 18%.

Age difference of 10 years
Couples with a 10-year gap in age between them have a divorce rate of 39%.

Age difference of 20 years or more
According to the study, the biggest age difference between spouses also has the highest chance of a break, with a divorce rate of as much as 95%.

This means that relationships that last the longest and appear to be the most positive include minimal age gaps. And the higher the age difference, the greater the likelihood of a divorce.

What else affects the longevity of the union?

Here are some other conclusions from the same study regarding the effect of various factors on the longevity of relationships.

  • Illegitimate children

Families who have a first child born out of this marriage are 59% more likely to divorce than those who have no children from a previous relationship.

  • Married children

Having children during a relationship reduces the likelihood of divorce by 76%, but increases the chances of a couple breaking up due to child-related factors when the children get older.

  • Relationship duration

Couples who have been together for two years reduce their chances of divorce by 43%. Meanwhile, those who spent 10 years together get divorced another 94% less often.

  • Educational difference

A large difference in the level of education between spouses has a probability of divorce of 43%.

Findings from other studies

A study at Emory University is not the first to try to find a connection between age differences and the duration of a relationship. And the conclusions of some others were directly opposite.

Thus, a joint study by Wang Sheng Lee from Deakin University and Terra IakKinnish from the University of Colorado showed that couples with a large age gap are usually more satisfied with the relationship as a whole.

In such relationships, there is also a higher level of commitment to each other, more confidence and less jealousy than is usually observed in couples of the same age. Alas, this usually does not last long.

“Over time, satisfaction with marriage decreases faster for both men and women who have large age gaps with their spouses, compared to those who have a slight age difference with their half,” said study author Terra IakKinnish.

Meanwhile, according to research at Purdue University, more than 75% of couples with young women and older men with significant age gaps show that their relationship is satisfactory and positive.

So there is simply no consensus among scientists on this issue.

By Cindy
April 28, 2020

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