Intergenerational Marriages: What Makes Them Last?

Society scoffs at couples with vast age differences, but these relationships are not automatically doomed to failure. While a famous survey of 2,000 adults points to four years as the ideal age gap, half of respondents claimed that no ideal gap exists. In other words, there’s more to couples than their birthdays.

Many intergenerational couples remain happily married long after their similarly-aged peers have called it quits. The following are a few of the secrets that underlie successful May-December romances:

Maturity
Often, younger parties in intergenerational marriages argue that they enjoy a significant advantage over couples with smaller age gaps: the guidance of a mature partner, who has already endured many of life’s hardships. With maturity often comes financial stability, and while some people roll their eyes at this, it’s a valid point: money issues are responsible for the vast majority of divorces among younger couples.

Life Stages and Personal Priorities
Spouses may occupy separate generations, but still be in approximately the same stage of life. This makes it easier for them to relate. For example, a 42-year-old and 25-year-old with no kids, a love of travel, and stable careers may fare better than two 25-year-olds with completely different priorities.

Communication
Effective communication is critical in any relationship, but while a significant age gap can cause challenges, it by no means dooms couples who struggle to relate. Some spouses of roughly the same age struggle to communicate despite holding a great deal in common. Ultimately, couples of all ages must learn effective strategies so as to increase mutual understanding. Because May-December spouses come from unique mindsets, they may actually acknowledge their differences and do the work necessary to develop stronger communication strategies.

Family Acceptance
Sometimes, differently aged spouses get along famously—until their friends or family members butt in. Family disapproval can wreak havoc on even the strongest relationships. Loved ones might make snide remarks about age differences long after you tie the knot. Couples fortunate to enjoy community acceptance—or command respect regardless—stand the best chances of success, no matter their age.

There is no set formula to determine the perfect age disparity for various couples. Age gaps create unforeseen challenges, but they don’t destroy all possibility of a happy, lasting marriage.

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