A big age gap can has­ten the 7-year-itch

The Star Early Edition - - NEWS -

THEY of­ten face raised eye­brows, snig­gers and even cruel whis­pers that their mar­riage would never last but cou­ples with a large age dif­fer­ence be­tween them should per­haps pay some heed.

For mar­riages where one part­ner is a lot younger than the other are likely to hit trou­ble more quickly, re­searchers say.

Cougars mar­ried to toy boys and men with much younger wives see the steep­est de­cline in their re­la­tion­ship six to 10 years after ty­ing the knot.

This can be be­cause the younger part­ner is more ea­ger to have chil­dren or the older part­ner re­tires.

Or there may be other sud­den life changes, such as fi­nan­cial pres­sures, that ac­cen­tu­ate the gen­er­a­tion gap.

Some celebri­ties have shown that age dif­fer­ence is no bar­rier to last­ing hap­pi­ness.

Joan Collins, 84, mar­ried Percy Gib­son, 52, 15 years ago.

Show­biz le­gend has it that Collins, re­minded of the 32-year-age gap, said non­cha­lantly: “If he dies, he dies.”

And while Michael Dou­glas, 72, and Cather­ine Zeta-Jones, who have a 25-year age dif­fer­ence, did sep­a­rate briefly in 2013, they are now said to be hap­pier than ever after nearly 17 years of mar­riage.

The US study, which ex­am­ined data over 13 years from nearly 20 000 Aus­tralians, found men who were mar­ried to younger women were the most sat­is­fied.

Those whose wife was seven or more years older were the least sat­is­fied. Women were hap­pi­est when mar­ried to a younger man de­spite pre­vi­ous stud­ies sug­gest­ing they pick older hus­bands who are likely to have more money.

But after six to 10 years of mar­riage, the hap­pi­ness of age-gap cou­ples fell steeply, can­celling out the ex­tra hap­pi­ness of mar­ry­ing some­one younger and mak­ing them even less happy than those with spouses of a sim­i­lar age.

Lead au­thor Pro­fes­sor Terra McKin­nish, of the Univer­sity of Colorado, said: “Cou­ples have to make a lot of joint de­ci­sions, such as where to live, how many chil­dren to have, and how to spend their money.

“Cou­ples who are more dis­sim­i­lar, and the age dif­fer­ence is one source of dis­sim­i­lar­ity, may be less likely to agree on these joint de­ci­sions. This may be­come an in­creas­ing source of con­flict.”

The study, pub­lished in the Jour­nal of Pop­u­la­tion Eco­nom­ics, says: “The fact that the hus­band and wife are in dif­fer­ent points of their life cy­cle may have dif­fer­ent ef­fects at dif­fer­ent points, such as when one part­ner wants to have chil­dren or when one wants to re­tire.”

Amanda Ma­jor, of Re­late, said: “We know that age-gap re­la­tion­ships ab­so­lutely can work, but we also know that there are some com­mon chal­lenges. When the re­la­tion­ship ma­tures, peo­ple may be­gin to look at their part­ner in a dif­fer­ent light or their pri­or­i­ties may change, and this is when prob­lems can oc­cur.” – Daily Mail

STILL IN LOVE: Cather­ine Zeta-Jones and Michael Dou­glas, 72, who have a 25-year age dif­fer­ence, split briefly in 2013, but are said to be hap­pier than ever after nearly 17 years of mar­riage.

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