When people with a significant age gap fall in love and start to talk about marriage, you often hear them say things like: "Age is just a number."
They feel confident that they can make it work, even if it does seem a bit unconventional. They tend to ignore concerned friends and family members who ask if it is the right idea. They stress that their feelings are what matters, not how old or young they are.
Is this true? Or does it raise the odds that a couple will split up?
Researchers have studied this, and they found that small age gaps do not pose much of a problem. One expert noted that anything from one to five years has no real statistical impact on divorce rates. A 30-year-old marrying a 28-year-old has nothing to worry about.
That's not to say those marriages will not end in divorce. They certainly could. But the age difference would not be the reason for the divorce.
The trouble comes when you have larger age gaps, especially if one person is young enough to be the other person's child. The bigger of a gap there is between the two people's ages, "the more likely [the] marriage will end in divorce," claimed one senior data scientist.
If you are just 21 years old, for instance, and you consider marrying someone who is in their 30s, you could find yourself eventually heading to court. It may not happen right away, but your odds of divorce are higher than if you married someone who was also in their 20s.
It appears that the change happens slowly and has a lot to do with a lack of marital satisfaction. It declines over time. At first, both people feel satisfied. As they grow older, the older person still expresses satisfaction, but the younger person tends not to get as much from the union anymore. This eventually pushes the couple to seek a divorce when the relationship stops working.
Part of the issue could be that people find themselves in different places in life. One person is thinking about their career while the other is considering retirement. One person is in good health while the other has steadily declining health as old age sets in. They may have felt similar, despite their age difference, when they were both younger. Getting older shows them just how different they are, which is why larger gaps prove more problematic.
Getting a divorce
Are you already in a marriage with a large age gap and thinking that divorce is on the horizon? If so, it is critical to understand all of the legal steps you and your spouse need to take moving forward.