How Does Age Difference Matter in a Marriage?


Over the years, we have been asked if the age differential between people contemplating marriage really matters. Our answer – it depends!

In our thousands of interviews on six continents of the world, we have learned this – when you are truly in love, your age and the age of the one you love really doesn’t matter for the most part. But there is a reality to this notion as well. There are circumstances when the difference in age does matter.

When you are 17, contemplating marriage to someone who is 47,marriage is probably not a good idea. The life experiences of a 17-year old are very, very different from a person who is 47! Someone who is 17 is still a child for the most part. A person who is 47 is experienced, probably accomplished to some extent, and, more often than not, has lived through the trials and tribulations of life – and of living. These differences can present great challenges in a relationship, make no mistake about that.

The potential success of the marriage really does depend upon the maturity and experience level of those who are in love. The simple truth is this – there is no magic age differential when it comes to love and marriage.

However, our experience tells us that the closer in age two people in love are, the greater their chances of Building a Love That Lasts. Whether it is one year, five years, ten, or more, true love trumps everything else. The question really is more about “How do you know your are in love” versus “How old is the one you love?” Being IN love is far more important than an age difference between two people who purport to love each other.

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Here is a recent example of what we are talking about. Mark and Susan are 48 and 37 respectively. Both are divorced. We can honestly say they both experienced terribly bad marriages. We will just leave it at that for now.

The good news, Mark and Susan have discovered each other! In fact, they have fallen deeply and unequivocally, in love.

Listening to them describe their love affair is enlightening and uplifting. They are redefining “Date Night!” These two not only love each other, they have learned what it feels like to be respected by one another, trust each other, be honest with each other (the core value of all successful relationships), and value each other as human beings.

Both Mark and Susan have children from their first marriage. Both love their children completely. Both are wildly protective of them. And in fact, both would love no other human being who did not love their children. And good for them!

In the beginning, they were cautious about their age difference. No longer! Now, they are focused on their love for each other. Their respective ages do not matter.

So, what have we learned about age differences from our three decades of research? Being in love trumps everything when it comes to love and marriage, irrespective of age or age the differential of those in love. Most marriages are successful when the age difference between two people in love is approximately ten years or less. When the difference is greater than ten years the “success rate” starts to go down. When the differential is less than 10, the success rate goes up. In other words, it is generally true that the smaller the difference in ages, the greater the chance of having a successful marriage.

However, there are no magic elixirs when it comes to love. Being in love is more important than age. Age is relative. More importantly, age matters far less in a relationship than love. Love is timeless, of that you can be sure. Go be in love.

Simple Things Matter in love and marriage. Love well!


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