Interestingly, a study on age gap relationships indicated that cases in which the wife was older than the husband showed a higher than usual proportion of good adjustments, as did those in which the husband was eight or more years older. Yet these same marriages showed also the highest proportion of poor adjustments.
It was found that the happiest group of husbands had wives twelve or more years younger, but that the happiest wives were from four to ten years older than their husbands. Yet the happiest couples were those in which the husband was from three to five years older. So you figure it out. Here are some helpful principles:
- If the man is about the same age as, or somewhat older than the girl, there will be no special problem of age suitability.
If the girl is slightly older there will be no special problem unless one or the other feels sensitive about it. The only question then will be, “How do they feel about it?”
As people grow older, age differences become less important. Other things being equal, there will be less difference between a woman of fifty and a man of seventy, than between a girl of twenty and a man of forty.
When one is relatively young and the other as much as twelve years older, the couple should carefully review the following problems:
In these age gap relationships, there may be real differences in their interest in physical activities. If the man is the elder, this may not be too important. A man of thirty-five may play as good a game of golf or even tennis, and swim as well as a girl of twenty.
In fact their age gap may actually make them more evenly matched. A greater age gap relationship problem will be the stage in which their interests happen to be.
Younger people often want to gad about at dances, parties, night clubs, and similar activities. When people become older such activities are far less attractive and may, if indulged in too much, become boring.
If the male is considerably older and he and his wife do what he wants, she may miss out on a phase of her experience which, rightly or wrongly, she may always regret. If they do what she enjoys most, he is being dragged through the same experiences twice, perhaps after he is eager to go on to something else.
A compromise may work out. On the other hand, it may result in a type of social life which is satisfactory to neither of them. A deeper phase of the same problem concerns one’s attitude toward life. To those of less experience the problems of age gap relationships seem much simpler than they actually are.
Young people are quite likely to feel that the older generation must be knaves or fools, or they would long since have abolished war, poverty, industrial strife and mosquitoes.
Older people,on the other hand, often find the enthusiasms of youth amusing. They may tolerate them in their children, but do not want them in a spouse. If the age gap is so great that the wife regards her husband as an old fogy, and the husband thinks of his wife as a simple child who spends too much effort and time in things that do not matter, the situation is not favorable to a successful marriage.
Yet the fact that age gap relationships are risky does not necessarily mean that it should not be attempted. One young lady of twenty-five who was marrying a man twice her age strongly stated that she would rather marry a first-class man of fifty than a third-rate man of thirty.
There could be other advantages to such a union. The girl who marries an older man has a better chance of knowing what she is getting. In any case, the most important consideration is not age, but maturity.
Younger people who are more mature than most of their contemporaries may actually find an older mate to be more congenial. Yet as in any age gap relationships, the preference for a much older mate should be scrutinized with great care.
The danger is that the older person is psychologically a substitute parent, rather than a mate.