Marry someone your own age, why don’t you, instead of, say, someone who’s 15 years younger, or older, than you are, and you two may live together longer in wedded bliss. At least that’s what researchers at Emory University are saying, based on the findings of a recent study performed there.
Led by Andrew Francis and Hugo Mialon, economics professors at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia, researchers polled and analyzed data from 3,000 recently married and divorced adults and found that, statistically speaking, even just a five-year gap in age raises likelihood of divorce to 18 percent, compared to a 3 percent likelihood of divorce for couples with just a one-year age gap between them.
What’s more, researchers found the wider the age gap, the larger the risk of divorce. When a couple had a 10-year age gap between them, their likelihood of divorce climbed to 39 percent; and when there was a 20-year gap between spouses, the likelihood of divorced skyrocketed to a hefty 95 percent.
Reasons why may include that with a large age difference, each partner has different life experience and cultural reference points — everything from music to TV shows. Then there’s the important point that for women, sex drives climb in middle age, whereas for men, sexual performance plummets at that time in life.
Still, age gaps between romantic partners appear to be fairly common. According to Facebook data tracking, on average, globally, a male partner in marriage is 2.4 years older than his female partner; plus, the male partner is the older spouse in 67 percent of marriages, compared to 20 percent where the female partner is older and 13 percent where the spouses are the same age.
Other differences that correlate to higher probability of divorce? Mismatched levels of education among spouses, according to the study. Couples with different education levels were found to be 42 percent more likely to divorce than couples who completed the same level of schooling.
Perhaps even more intriguing — and the newly engaged out there, listen up! — another related study finding noted that couples who spent more moolah on their weddings were at higher risk of divorce. Food for thought, no?
So, if all these factors can crush a marriage’s chances, what factors increase likelihood of staying together? Lasting a long time. Literally. Married couples that celebrate their 10-year anniversary are 94 percent less likely to divorce, found the researchers. And even if you make it to your two-year wedding anniversary, there may be no wedding cake to eat but there is still good news to celebrate: Couples that make it this far are 43 percent less likely to get divorced.
Keep in mind that none of these factors prove actual causation but are mere correlation factors, meaning these factors, such as wide age gaps between spouses, are potential indicators of divorce but not hard-and-fast culprits, say researchers. And numbers are just that — hard, cold penciled-in digits that don’t necessarily determine fate. At the end of the day, you’re still in charge of you.