Age Differences in Relationships

In some parts of the world, the difference between the ages of partners in a relationship seem important. Some societies encourage prospective marriage partners to have a somewhat large gap between their ages -- something that was common in the Middle East over 2000 years ago. Back then, it was considered proper and good if the husband was somewhat older than the wife. The reverse was almost never the case. In today's era, a huge gap between the ages of the marriage partners is considered unusual. It might even spark questions about the nature of the relationship. When you think of it, however, whether there is a gap in the ages or not shouldn't play a role in making the decision to marry.

Nowadays, we tend to marry within our age group, often with no more than a two or three year gap between the ages of the marriage partners. This is normally due to the fact that we tend to marry people we have befriended -- and circles of friends almost always are of the same age. However, a relationship of friendship is not the same thing as a relationship of marriage. Friends will sometimes argue amongst friends -- usually over trivial matters -- and it won't harm the friendship. However, arguments between marriage partners -- even if the issues are also trivial -- can and will damage the marriage itself. Friends who get upset often will exclude themselves from the others while the wounds heal, but marriage partners can't exclude themselves from their partners. A relationship that comes into being from outside age-peers tends to avoid most (but not all) arguments. We tend to speak plainly to our friends, whereas we tend to curb our tongues somewhat with people have come into our lives more recently.

Society has changed its views on relationships over the last few decades. Gone, for better or for worse, is the notion of the nuclear family. High divorce and remarriage rates, single parenthood, common law relationships, amongst other things, have removed much of the stigma that used to be attached to various aspects of marriage, including that of age differences.

As with nearly everything, social scientists and other experts have been taking apart the idea of age differences in marriage partners and analysing the statistics. Studies seem to show that marriages where the husband is significantly older fall apart more frequently than marriages where the age gap is smaller or where the wife is older. According to these studies, the ideal age gap seems to be about 5 years, with the husband being the older partner.

Societal norms and the results of studies should never influence your decision regarding entering into marriage with someone. The key factor, far above what statistics analysis may show, is a deep and powerful love between the potential partners. If the connection between the two partners is there -- powerful, resistant to attack, and focused on making the other partner happy -- then any age gap, big or small, should have no influence on the decision to marry.

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