What is a suitable age difference for marriage? Yup, we’ve heard that one before. Many of us have grown up with an idealistic worldview that love is enough to make relationships last – a belief that guides our first romances. Then the pragmatic reality of life hits home. It takes a lot more than love and passion for two people to build a relationship strong enough to tide over the many ups and downs that life throws our way.
When choosing a life partner, we consider a spectrum of factors, ranging from income to personality traits, beliefs and life goals – even if subconsciously – to ascertain whether a potential love interest would make a compatible life partner. Another key aspect that needs to be factored in is the age difference between a couple because the ‘age is just a number’ adage may just not be good enough to counter the complexities of married life.
Can The Ideal Age Difference Make A Marriage Successful?
There is no universal formula that can guarantee happiness in a relationship or success in marriage. So all that chatter about the maximum or minimum age difference for marriage holds true, but only to a certain extent. Every couple goes through its unique trials and tribulations, every couple finds a way to cope with the challenges life throws at them.
Some survive, some don’t. That said, there are certain broad guidelines and generalized checklists that can help increase the odds of making a marriage work. The ideal age difference for marriage is one such crucial component to take into account when making this all-important decision in your life.
We have all seen couples – be it celebrities or the people next door – enjoying a successful marriage despite a huge age gap, and we wonder if it can work for them, why not us? Is the minimum or maximum age difference for marriage just another hyped-up social stereotype then?
Who hasn’t looked at Milind Soman and his 34-years-younger wife and wondered: why couldn’t we land a handsome, salt-and-pepper hunk like him? The girl was practically still in her diapers when our man was making half the country drool with his Made in India appearance.
Well, primarily because a majority of couples face problems due to a huge age difference between them. This leads people to ask the following questions – Does age difference really matter in marriage? If so, what is the best age difference for husband and wife? How much age difference is acceptable between a couple? Is cracking the best age gap for couples key to a happy union? Well, we will get to that in just a moment.
According to a study conducted at Emory University in Atlanta, USA, a significant age gap has been directly linked to higher chances of separation. This is a vital finding to take note of as marriages with vast age gaps are still quite prevalent in India, even though their occurrence may have come down in recent times. Unlike women from preceding generations, modern, educated Indian women are less likely to stay in an unhappy marriage accepting it ‘as their fate’.
Related Reading: 11 Things That Attract A Younger Woman To An Older Man
What Is The Ideal Age Difference For Marriage?
What is the best age gap for marriage, you ask? Well, look at it this way. Different age gaps work for different couples, depending on their priorities and what they seek in marriage. Whether you are an older woman with a younger man or a young girl arranged in a match with an older man, an age difference can significantly impact compatibility between a couple.
To help you decide what would be an appropriate age difference for marriage between you and your future life partner, depending on individual aspirations and priorities, let’s take a look at how different brackets of age gap impact a marriage:
5 to 7 years age difference for marriage
Many people believe that a 5-7 year age difference for marriage between spouses is ideal. In fact, statistics suggest that the average age gap in all presidential marriages in the US is 7 years. Given how these power couples weather the most turbulent storms during their time in public life and sail through, 5 to 7-year difference may well be the best age gap for couples.
So, does this particular age difference for marriage work? Let’s see why some people think so:
- Fewer ego clashes: One of the reasons the 5 to 7-year gap is considered the perfect age difference between bride and groom is that people who are born closer together and fall in the same age group are more prone to ego clashes and fights. A 7-year age difference in marriage, on the other hand, is just enough to counter the peer-like ego clashes between two couples yet not wide enough to make them feel alienated by a generation gap
- One spouse is always more mature: If both the life partners are young at the time of marriage, a lack of maturity can mar the relationship even before its roots take hold. In this case, having a somewhat older spouse can bring more stability to the marriage. That is why this is the best age difference for husband and wife
- The man can catch up with the woman’s level of maturity: Women mature 3-4 years earlier than men, not just sexually but also mentally. So, if both partners are in the same age group or born closer together, the chances of them being on the same page emotionally, mentally, and physically are far less. However, with a 5-7 years age gap, that shouldn’t be so much of a problem. A 5 to 7 year difference is considered the most acceptable age difference in marriage because it allows couples to be more in tune with each other.
10-year age difference in marriage
A 10-year age gap between spouses is stretching it a bit, but such marriages do have a decent shot at survival. In fact, there are many celebrity couples around us whose successful marriages are proof that a 10-year gap is a totally acceptable age difference in marriage.
Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds and Priyanka Chopra and Nick Jona, both with a little over 10 years between them, as well as The King and Queen of Bhutan, Chris Pratt & Katherine Schwarzenegger are some of the power couples who prove that a 10-year gap can be the perfect age difference between bride and groom, provided their values and life goals align.
Even so, a typical 10-year age difference marriage comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here are a few to consider before leaping into such a marriage:
- Maturity mismatch: Maturity of the younger partner matters more in a 10-year age difference marriage. The success of such a relationship largely depends on the age and maturity of the younger partner. If the younger partner isn’t mature, all the love between the couple cannot compensate for their lack of compatibility and the myriad issue stemming from it
- The need for coming into their own: The younger partner might still have a lot of growing up to do, especially if they’re still in their early 20s because this is the age when real-life experiences hit you and can potentially transform your personality, beliefs, and priorities and affect the compatibility in a relationship
- Compatibility issues: Besides, a person who is in their 20s lacks maturity. Their partner who’d be in the 30s, on the other hand, has been through the grind and is likely to have a more mature, pragmatic outlook toward life. This can lead to a lot of clashes and compatibility issues
- Both partners should be settled: A 10-year age difference marriage has a better shot of survival if both the partners are matured and settled in their lives. Financial instability and imprudence on the part of one partner can irk the other. Likewise, the other being a stickler for financial planning and budgeting can become a constant source of contention in the relationship
Related Reading: Is the 7-year itch in a relationship real?
It is imperative to take a call on such relationships after a lot of careful thinking and objective analysis. This may not be the best age gap for marriage, but it can definitely work. However, you still cannot be swayed by success stories of celebrity couples or Bollywood movies that have shown huge age gaps to be successful. A 10-year age difference marriage is not for everyone.
A thirty-five-year-old man married to a twenty-three-year-old girl who reached out to us makes a strong case in point. The couple had to separate due to severe compatibility issues. He said she could not relate to his friends who were raising children and rarely made an effort to socialize in his circle. He said it got to the point where they had no mutual friends and never spent their weekends together.
In this scenario, the success of a marriage comes down to compatibility and understanding between one another. You can make your marriage a success even with differences as long as both partners act with maturity as that is one of the biggest priorities in a relationship.
20-year age difference in marriage
We wouldn’t call this the perfect age difference between bride and groom but marriages such as this are not uncommon. From George Clooney & Amal Clooney, with a 17-year age difference, to Leonardo DiCaprio & Camila Morrone at 23 years, Michael Douglas & Catherine Zeta-Jones (25 years), Harrison Ford & Calista Flockhart (22 years), there are quite a few examples in showbiz and public life that show that the 20-year age difference in marriage can be successful.
This may even leave you wondering, “Does age difference really matter in marriage?” Before you get carried away by the glitzy image of a happily-ever-after painted by the stories of these glam couples, remember that these are the exception, not necessarily the norm. With an age difference for marriage as big as this one, marriages can become stressful and often short-lived.
In the beginning, you may be riding high on the whole ‘love is blind’ vibe, but once the honeymoon phase is over and reality kicks in, such marriages can be riddled with a host of issues. Any more than a two-decade age gap and the issues only exacerbate. Truly consider this bracket the absolute maximum age difference for marriage or else the relationship problems will be endless. Some of the most common issues are:
Related Reading: Age is no barrier when you fall in love
- Compatibility: Which is a key component of any relationship, can be near-absent with such a significant age difference. Your expectations, outlook toward life, priorities, as well as physical abilities are markedly different from one another. The 20-year bracket can be considered well beyond the acceptable maximum age difference for marriage because the two partners are literally born in different eras, and this difference can dictate every little aspect of their life together
- No commonality: You may have nothing in common with your partner, as you two belong to different generations altogether. The older ones in the relationship may have more in common with their partner’s parents. When your points of reference, language, and the events that shape your worldview are poles apart, it can hardly be called the perfect age difference between bride and groom
- The older partner might become dominating: With years of more life experience to fall back on, the older partner may assume a more dominating role in the relationship, always telling their spouse what to do and what not to do. This can make the other person feel like they’re living a father figure more than a life partner
- And the age only increases: As time goes by, the older spouse will begin to age whereas the younger one still has the gift of youth on their side. This can lead to insecurities and discord in the relationship. So, does age difference really matter in marriage? Most definitely, yes if the gap is so significantly wide
- Different levels of fitness and health: Of course, such a vast age gap means that both partners are at different spectrums of physical fitness and health, which can impact sexual compatibility. A sexless marriage can soon become infested with a host of other issues such as resentment, jealousy, insecurity, and so on.
- Dealing with the older partner’s health problems: Coping with an older partner’s persistent health issues can take a toll on the caregiving spouse, and ultimately, the marriage. In the long run, making this marriage work can take persistent ad humongous effort, especially from the younger partner
When it comes to deciding on something, neither of you will ever give the same answer because of different tastes and choices as you both belong to two different generations.
If you are in such a relationship, it may be a good idea to take a step back and evaluate whether the spark between you two is just a manifestation of sexual tension and sexual fantasies. There have been cases where couples with a 20-year age difference in marriage or even more have had successful, long-lasting relationships. But such instances are few and far between. So even though it is possible, we would not call this the best age difference for husband and wife.
Can Marriages With Huge Age Difference Last?
Arranged marriage statistics suggest that the relationship no age-gap rule is set in stone but people of different ages can have successful marriages as long as they are compatible and share a level of understanding. Studies have found partners in a 10-year age difference marriage are often subject to social disapproval. While most people prefer a life partner who’s their age, a vast majority is open to the idea of spending their life with someone who is 10-15 years their junior or senior. In fact, in certain cultures and communities – like the Sami people from Finland – this age gap is considered ideal. So the perfect age difference between bride and groom varies from culture to culture, people to people, couple to couple.
Even if you are in a marriage with a huge age gap or planning on one, working to divorce-proof your marriage can go a long way in making it work. The key to a successful marriage despite age gaps is communication, mutual respect, love and stability. Even though the right age difference in marriage is a good guiding factor, the best age difference for husband and wife does not exactly exist. It all comes down to you and your love!