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Love and age difference

People raise eyebrows at couples who are far apart in terms of age. Anything over ten years apart is subject to question. The real truth is that there are so many other things that matter more when it comes to long-lasting love than how old the two of you are. A person’s age (compared to yours) is not as important as having good communication and knowing how to fight fairly so that you can keep your family together for the decades ahead. It pales in the face of how nice you are to each other and how much love you feel and share. Happy marriages can be found with many couples who have a twenty-plus year gap between them, and that is fine if you love each one another. For many years in traditional marriages, with husband as breadwinner and wife as mom and homemaker, it was considered appropriate for a man to marry a younger woman, even fifteen years younger. The thinking at the time was partly that she would remain young enough to take care of him as he aged, and she would have the inheritance and the children to help her as she got older.

As times changed and more women entered the work force, the old system began to become less than ideal for many. More people looked for a mate closer in age, with the belief that the more you have in common, the easier it is to get along in the long term. True in many cases, but now the pendulum is swinging in the opposite direction, and women are openly looking for younger men. Some say they don’t want to do the caretaking thing (which could be a red flag). Others say that they want a guy who can keep up with them (which makes sense).

What you want your life to be like is something that you need to discuss before you make a long-term commitment, especially if one of you has kids or wants them and the other doesn’t. Another big difference can show up if either of you wants to retire. Ignoring your differences will not make them go away, for resentments will build. This is something that you will want to talk about before you walk down the aisle.

For many mid-singles (31 and older), it can feel like dating options become somewhat limited after attending young single adult wards and activities is no longer an option. While it is still OK to date people younger than you are, it also becomes more and more acceptable to date those who are more than a couple of years older than you, too. Statistically, the number of potential spouses of the same age decreases as the years go on. This is one possible reason why age gaps matter less later in life. However certain figures do not seem to support this thesis.

According to a study conducted by Emory University in Atlanta, the bigger the difference the bigger the chance of separation. After analysing 3,000 people, it found that couples with a five-year age gap are 18 per cent more likely to split up than those of the same age. Interestingly, that figure rose to 39 per cent for couples with a 10-year age gap and a shocking 95 per cent for those with a 20-year age gao. So, just how big is too big of an age difference? Contrary to popular belief, researchers believe that the sweet spot lies in just a one-year gap between spouses who have a much smaller chance of separation at just 3 per cent. “It could just be that the types of couples with those characteristics are the types of couples who are, on average, more likely to divorce for other reasons,” said Hugo Mialon, one of the researchers behind the study. The most important factor for making a relationship successful is mutual respect. If you don’t feel and give respect to your partner, your relationship will whither. Love is powerful, but lack of respect can be a relationship killer. True, some people can get used to it, but it has a toxic effect on both of you. Disparaging terms like “cougar” and “dirty old man” have been around a long time, and labels can make people seem less than human.

In the end, a wide gap in age really doesn’t matter as long as the two of you are aware of what it means for your life together. Don’t let someone else’s bad experience with an older or younger man or woman dissuade you from being with the person you love. Having a younger partner, has a positive effect on health and physical appearance, it is a situation that often boosts the care of older partners in the relationship, since they are more motivated to take care of themselves, to stay attractive to their partner, but it must also be accompanied by an acceptance of age and its effects, and of the other who must love you as you are. And better in the age of technology generation conflict seems to be diluted with better communication, in the sharing and exchange of information between different age groups. Increasingly with social networks different age groups are aware of each other, this standardization of certain societal phenomena, helps better and better the stability of unions despite the age difference.

Sources: Barton Goldsmith Ph.D. psychology today. Emory university: A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration 27 Sep 2014 Andrew Francis-Tan Emory University - Department of Economics; National University of Singapore (NUS) - Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy Hugo M. Mialon Emory University - Department of Economics

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