The Best Age Gap For Relationship Satisfaction

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Many people are attracted to a younger partner, but is it worth it in the long run?

The best age gap for marital satisfaction is…none at all, research finds.

In the long run couples who are mismatched in age tend to be less satisfied, even if they are better off at first.

Both men and women are initially particularly satisfied when they get a younger husband or wife.

Professor Terra McKinnish, who co-authored the study, said:

“We find that men who are married to younger wives are the most satisfied, and men who are married to older wives are the least satisfied.

Women are also particularly dissatisfied when they’re married to older husbands and particularly satisfied if they’re married to younger husbands.”

However, after around 6-10 years of marriage this gap disappears.

Professor McKinnish said:

“Over time, the people who are married to a much older or younger spouse tend to have larger declines in marital satisfaction over time compared to those who are married to spouses who are similar in age.”

The researchers think this could be partly down to how they respond to money worries.

Professor McKinnish said:

“We looked at how couples respond to negative shocks and in particular, if they have a major bad economic shock or worsening of their household finances.

We find that when couples have a large age difference, that they tend to have a much larger decline in marital satisfaction when faced with an economic shock than couples that have a very small age difference.”

The more difference in people’s ages, the more differing views they have on important issues like having children and spending habits.

Over time, these are bound to create flash points in the relationship.

→ Try one of PsyBlog’s ebooks, all written by Dr Jeremy Dean:

The study was published in the Journal of Population Economics (Lee & McKinnish , 2017).

August 6, 2017 at 02:21PM

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