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Does a Large Age Gap Contribute to Divorce?

Couples divorce for a variety of reasons. One or both spouses may become less committed to the relationship over time. Conflict over money, work, and child-rearing are also common reasons for divorce. You might be surprised to learn a large age gap can also affect a marriage, according to research.

Research from The Atlantic shows that couples with a significant age difference are more likely to divorce. Those with a five-year age gap are 18 percent more likely to dissolve their marriage compared to spouses who are the same age. Differences in interests, values, and goals that initially seem surmountable during the honeymoon phase often become more divisive.

According to the research, spouses who are one year apart in age increase their chance of splitting up by three percent, that risk of divorce goes up significantly when the age gap is greater. Couples who are 10 years apart are 39 percent more likely to divorce than those closer in age. As the age difference expands to 20 years, the risk of divorce rises to a staggering 95 percent.

Men Who Marry Older Women May Have Less Relationship Satisfaction

While these statistics apply to the overall divorce rate, other studies show that gender is also a factor. When the older spouse is male, couples are more successful than those where the older spouse is a woman.

A 2017 study published in the Journal of Population Economics explored how an age gap in a marriage affected the relationship over time. Nearly 20,000 married participants answered questions about the state of their relationships. Respondents were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with their partner and their marriage on a scale of zero to 10. Men who married much younger wives started out happy, but that bliss declines fairly rapidly, nearly fading away entirely by the 10-year mark.

It is impossible to say definitively why an age difference negatively impacts married couples, but there are a few theories.

Priorities and Values Vary

Values and priorities are shaped in part by the culture and events that surround people during their youth and young adulthood. Partners born several years apart may not realize just how differently they see the world until several years have passed. No marriage is without its challenges. Couples with different goals may approach these hurdles in vastly diverse ways.

Different Stages of Life

Couples go through different stages of life. Whether it is having children, building a career, or enjoying retirement, sharing these exciting milestones often brings spouses together. However, sometimes they are not aligned.

If the older spouse is ready to retire while the younger spouse is in the prime of their professional life, they are unlikely to spend much time together. A spouse who has already raised children to adulthood may not be too receptive about starting all over again with a younger partner who is eager to experience parenthood.

Sex Drive Changes With Age

Mismatched sex drives also play a big part in marital success. For most people, sex drive is highest in their 20s. Over time, sexual incompatibility can lead to frustration, anger, and even infidelity, leading to divorce.

The Toll of Caring for an Aging Spouse

A serious medical condition is one of the most serious life stressors a couple can face. A younger spouse may not be emotionally or physically prepared to care for an older partner as they enter the golden years or have a medical condition. If they are not fully committed to navigate these challenges, the marriage may not survive.

How Can I Protect Myself in Divorce?

An age gap is just one variable that plays a part in a couple’s chance of success. Most newlyweds are understandably hopeful, but it is also wise to approach marriage with a practical mind.

A prenuptial agreement is an important form of protection for you and your spouse should your marriage end in divorce. It is a written, legally-binding contract that details exactly what will happen to your assets and other finances if you split.

Many couples find that working out the details of a prenuptial agreement opens the door to necessary conversations about money and property. It is also a chance to learn more about a partner’s attitudes toward finances.

If you are already married and curious about your options, you could get a postnuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements primarily cover finances, but they can also describe just about anything the couple wants to include. They are especially important for anyone who had children or business interests prior to the marriage.

Studies show couples with sizable age gaps are more likely to divorce. If you are looking for peace of mind knowing your interests are protected whatever the outcome, consider meeting with a skilled lawyer for legal guidance.

Marlton Divorce Lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. Can Help You if You Are Considering a Divorce

If you have a pressing divorce matter, contact one of our Marlton divorce lawyers at Goldstein & Mignogna, P.A. With our firm, you will receive the personal care and attention your case deserves. We will take the time to listen to your concerns and explain all of your legal options. Call us at 856-890-9400 or complete our online form to schedule an initial consultation today. Located in Marlton, New Jersey, we proudly serve clients throughout South Jersey, including but not limited to Burlington Country, Camden County, and Gloucester County.

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