Secrets of Lasting Love
We’re fascinated by age gap romances – the relationships where one partner is old enough to be the other’s parent – and there are plenty of high profile couples who seem to be doing just fine.
Think Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher (she is 15 years older); newly engaged Harrison Ford (66) and Calista Flockhart, (44) or Tom Cruise (47) and Katie Holmes (30).
And what about Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones, who share not just a marriage but the same September 25 birthday – it’s just it is 25 years apart.
These Hollywood matches are all beating the odds, according to new research on the secrets of lasting marriages conducted by the Australian National University.
Divorce More Likely If Wife Older
Analysis of 2500 Australian couples over six years shows the chances of getting divorced double if there is more than an eight year difference in age (if the man is older) or more than two years (if it is the woman who is the older).
And while marrying someone of similar educational, social and religious status helps your chances of avoiding divorce, these factors don’t matter as much as age.
Marriages in which the husband was nine or more years older than the wife, or two or more years younger, had a separation rate of 17 per cent compared to about 10 per cent for their more age-compatible peers.
It also helps if the husband is over 25 when you marry, and if neither of you have children before getting married. Having a similar attitude to wanting children or another child is important, also.
Not Rich, Not Poor Best
Being comfortably off helps in the cause of marital stability, but not if you are very well off – the richest 25 per cent have a higher risk of separation. Being poor, unemployed and feeling financially stressed, is a deadly trifecta for marriage stability. About 20 per cent of those unemployed at the start of the survey later separated compared to 10 per cent of those who had a job.
And another thing the demographers advise: don’t marry a smoker if you are a non-smoker. It is definitely a romance killer. Two smokers, however, will get along fine.