Many of us grow 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 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 ‘age is just a number’ adage is just not good enough to counter the complexities of married life.
Related Reading: 11 Things That Attract A Younger Woman To An Older Man
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. Every couple goes through their 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 generalised checklists that can help increase the odds of making a marriage work.
The ideal age difference 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 people next door – enjoying a successful marriage despite a huge age gap, and we wonder if it can work for them, why not us. Who hasn’t looked at Milind Soman and his 34-years-younger wife and wondered: why couldn’t we land a handsome, salt-and-peppery 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.
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 incidence 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’.
What Is the Ideal Age Difference in a Marriage?
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 young girl arranged in a match with an older man, age difference can significantly impact compatibility between a couple. To help you decide what would be an appropriate age difference 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
Many people believe that a 5-7 age difference between spouses is ideal for a marriage. Here’s why:
- People who are born closer together and fall in the same age group are more prone to ego clashes and fights.
- 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 in more stability to the marriage.
- Women mature 3-4 years earlier than men, not just sexually but also mentally. So, if both partners are of the same gap or born closer together, the chances of them being on the same page emotionally, mentally and physically are far less.
Related reading: Is the 7-year itch in a relationship real?
10 year age difference
A 10-year age gap between spouses is stretching it a bit, but such marriages do have a decent shot at survival. A 10-year age gap comes with its own set of pros and cons. Here are a few to consider before leaping into such a marriage:
- The success of such a relationship largely depends on the age and maturity of the younger partner.
- If the younger partner is in their early 20s, they still have a lot of growing up to do because this is the age when real-life experiences hit you and can potentially transform your personality, beliefs and priorities.
- Besides, a person who is 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.
- A marriage with a 10-year age difference between the spouses has a better shot at survival if both the partners are matured and settled in their lives.
It is imperative to take a call on such relationships after a lot of careful thinking and objective analysis. You cannot be simply swayed by success stories of celebrity couples or Bollywood movies that have shown huge age gaps to be successful.
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. You can make your marriage a success even with differences as long as both partners act with maturity.
Related reading: Age is no barrier when you fall in love
20 year age difference
With an age difference, marriages can become stressful and often short-lived. In the beginning, you may be riding high with the whole ‘love is blind‘ vibe, but as the honeymoon phase passes, and reality kicks in, such marriages can be riddled with a host of issues. Some of the most common ones are:
- 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.
- You may have nothing in common with your partner, as you two belong to different generations altogether. The older one in the relationship may have more in common with their partner’s parents.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Coping with an older partner’s persistent health issues can take a toll on the caregiving spouse, and ultimately, the marriage.
When it comes to deciding on something, you both will never give the same answer because of different tastes and choices from living in 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. There have been cases where couples with a 20-year age difference or even more have had successful, long-lasting marriages. But such instances are few and far between.
Can Marriages With Huge Age Difference Last?
Arranged marriage statistics suggest that the relationship no age-gap rule is set in stone, and people of different ages can have successful marriages as long as they are compatible and share a level of understanding. Studies have found partners with more than a 10-year age gap 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 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.
Statistics also show that couples who manage to make it past the two-year mark are nearly 43% less likely to split up, irrespective of their age difference. So, 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.