Couples with large age gaps are less likely to be satisfied, finds study

Things didn't work out between Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchinson for a reason

Olivia Petter
Tuesday 12 December 2017 10:43

A 13-year-long study has shown that spouses with larger age gaps are less likely to be satisfied in their marriage.

Using research from thousands of Australian households, the research found that couples who were closer in age were more in sync on a number of life-changing decisions such as when to have children and spending habits, which make them more compatible in the long run.

They also found that husbands and wives who were closer in age were better equipped to overcome crisis together such as sudden economic decline.

Money problems main reason for relationship breakdown

However, out of those surveyed, the men who were married to younger wives were the happiest.

Co-author of the study, Dr Terra McKinnish cited this finding as “not so surprising”.

On the other hand, men married to older wives were the least content in their marriages in the long run.

"If there is two much of an age gap you run risk of both of you wanting different things in life," explains dating expert James Preece. "One might want to travel while the other has already done that for example. Maturity levels can vary dramatically and arguments about jealousy and money can be common," he told The Independent.

No wonder he's always so chipper

Ultimately it's all about a happy balance. It can work if you are both willing to compromise and learn from each other.

What did surprise researchers was that women who married to older husbands were also deeply unsatisfied whilst those who married younger men were far more content.

Bad news for Liam and Cheryl

Thus, the study showed that both men and women prefer a younger spouse.

In spite of this, marriages where both parties were closer in age proved the most successful.

Courtney Stodden was just 16 when she wed actor Doug Hutchinson after the two met in an acting workshop that Hutchinson was teaching. The marriage lasted six years.

“If you look at marriages over time, the people who are married to a much older or younger spouse tend to have larger declines in marital satisfaction compared to spouses who are similar in age,” McKinnish explained in a Boulder university podcast.

The study was initiated in 2001 and participants’ marital satisfaction was measured every year.

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