When choosing a mate, most people have somewhat of a checklist consisting of desired and undesired traits – whether consciously aware of it or not. Some are very particular about the qualities they deem compatible with their own, while others are looser on their interpretations of a potential partner. One certain quality that has tumbled into the limelight as of late is the subject of age gaps in committed relationships. Many question if a larger age gap makes couples statistically more likely to split, if it’s even considered a smart move to marry someone of the same – or very similar – age, and how to effectively communicate with a spouse that’s from a different generation.
According to a 2014 study at Emory University published by the New York Post, the larger the age gap, the higher the likelihood of a divorce. The study states that a one-year age gap generally puts out a 3% divorce rate, while a five-year gap produces somewhere around an 18% rate. However, through further research, age may not necessarily be the main problem within these statistics.
According to Barbie Adler – founder and president of a matchmaking firm – the real issue concerns the maturity level of each individual. “You really have to be crystal clear about your hopes, dreams, and desires from the start,” tells marriage and family therapist Dr. Sheri Meyers in an interview with Fox News. “A big issue for couples with a big age gap is mismatched life experiences and goals around marriage, children, lifestyle, and freedom.”
Close-gap marriage statistics may look brighter due to the compatible maturity levels of both partners. Two 30-year-olds are more likely to have the same long-term goals than a 25-year-old and a 45-year-old. Communicating your pertinent wants and needs to your partner – and acknowledging theirs in return – is imperative in the decision to spend the rest of your life with that person.
If you and your beloved happen to have a larger age gap – 10+ years – between the two of you, solid communication may be more difficult to achieve. First off, realize that as time goes by, your “generation” gap will likely begin to shrink. For example, the differences between a 20-year-old and a 35-year-old might be high, but a couple who is 40 and 55 won’t notice as much of a difference. Second, lean away from the easy “parent-child” dynamic; while you may think it’s unlikely, experience often breeds a sense of superiority – especially if your partner is going through something similar to you when you were their age. Acknowledge this urge, and take every measure to ensure you treat one another as equals in the relationship.
For more relationship advice from our experts, click here. Find out how to fight fair with your partner, how to preserve the passion in your relationship, and learn what about communication makes it an essential component in your marriage.
Opening photo by Lauren Brown Photography