AGE GAP – Should It Matter?

The following article was prompted by an email we received here at Marriage Missions. We have edited it and changed the name to protect the identity of this writer. (Following this email request and my response, we will include a few web site links to additional articles with differing approaches:

I have an issue on my mind that bothers me about marriages. I have found lately that couples tend to use the differences in ages as a barrier to keep them apart, which I personally feel is looking into the flesh, rather than what God has planned for them together. Our marriages are supposed to fulfill the purposes God has for us together and I believe that God chooses us as human beings put together to fulfill His purposes.

It’s sad that couples that have the same desire to serve the Lord, are God-fearing, compatible, and have many other healthy ingredients to have a successful marriage, stay apart because of what society thinks of them differing in ages —more so if the man is younger that the woman.

I really look forward to hearing about this from you. There are many people that could benefit from reading about this aspect of marriage especially when choosing a partner.

Many Thanks,
A Concerned Reader

Dear Concerned:

You make several excellent points in your letter about the barrier that age differences cause. Age differences and the role it plays in marriage can definitely be used in a “fleshly” manner in emotionally separating married couples more than it looks like it should when you view it from a spiritual standpoint.

But unfortunately, we live in the day and age where divorce is becoming such a common way for couples to resolve differences that seem too difficult to bridge. For that reason we have to be all the more cautious when we advise couples who are entering into marriage. That’s probably why it’s almost impossible to find articles for couples considering marriage (where there is a big age difference which will put a positive spin on it because too often it eventually causes divisive problems in marital relationships. (Not in all cases but in enough of them that it’s something to be concerned about.)

The age differences aren’t as much of a problem when the couple is younger. It’s amazing how young love can seem to conquer all! But later on in life when the couple gets progressively older it becomes more of a problem because the older spouse eventually gets into health and energy issues that the younger spouse often finds too troublesome to deal with in their own stage in life.

And in all fairness though, it really can be a problem. I look at the energy and desire that our sons have to do certain things (because of their younger stage of life) and I can’t even imagine having to do those things at this stage in my life. If I had a younger spouse (or if it was my husband who had a younger spouse) this would have to be dealt with —and it would definitely cause its share of problems.

Years ago when Biblical commitment in marriage was more steadfast, this was something that couples would deal with and not allow to separate them. But that’s not as common in today’s world. It’s tragically sad but true. As a result, there may be some couples (with large age gaps) that God would want to work in and through, to show how His grace is sufficient to sustain unconditional loving, that He’s not able to, because of the choices we decide to make. I’m sure this grieves His heart!

But to be truthful, because of the influence of today’s world on harming marriages, I would greatly caution any couple that is contemplating marriage (where there is a large age gap). They need to look very carefully and prayerfully at the reality of what the upcoming years could most likely bring to challenge their love and commitment to live out the rest of their lives with each other (and still “finish well” as Marriage Message #191 discusses).

Deciding during the courtship stage, not to marry because of the stress their age gap would bring into their marriage, can be a wise decision to make. They have to be sure beyond a shadow of doubt that they both have the commitment it would take to overcome the huge obstacles they may encounter because of the differences in their ages.

I have seen a few good marriages where the large age gap worked out fine and they have very good marriages. But I’ve seen more where they end up disastrous. That’s why I would counsel couples to be very, VERY sure they’re considering marriage for more reasons than the emotional rush and that they’ve considered the possible “costs” involved up front so they’re willing to work extra hard in their commitment to each other when difficulties come up. (That goes for ALL marriage, but especially for marriages in this type of situation.)

Love can be very romantic to be involved in before marrying but true love is “patient, and kind” (as 1 Corinthians 13 talks of) even when your partner doesn’t have the desire or energy to participate in doing activities that you crave to do (as a person who is much younger). They may have done those things earlier in their life together, but their progressing age may change that.

According to 1 Corinthians 13, love does not envy others (who do more youthful activities together or have more things in common than you may have). The interests of a 40 or a 50 year old most often is different than those of a 60 or 70+ year old. Progressing age brings different “problems” with it. When you grow old together, being close to the same age at each stage, it can be somewhat easier to take. But when a 25 year old marries a 45 year old, the gap physically and emotionally grows wider with each passing year. That’s just a reality of life that you need to face!

Love also, is “not rude” (when you see the sags and bags that your spouse may be developing a lot sooner than you are). It also is “not self-seeking”, especially when you realize that your spouse may not be able to “keep up” so many things (because of the complications their age may bring with it) when you feel a need that they do so.

Love also “is not easily angered; it keeps no record of wrongs” (and is supportive when your spouse is no longer as exciting as they used to be). To see them nodding off to sleep in the next chair when you want to go off dancing or socializing together can happen to even younger couples, but it can be even more of a reality as our ages progress. (Of course, we want to note here that there are always exceptions to this. Some 70 year olds lead more vigorous lives than some 30 year olds. But that isn’t usually the norm.)

As the Bible says, love “always perseveres.” Those who marry need to deal with the reality of what they may be getting themselves into later in their marital relationship. If they aren’t sure they could persevere through these (and other trials) then they need to reconsider BEFORE marrying. That would be the honorable thing to do.

The Bible talks about “considering the cost” before you do something. In Luke 14, it talks of the person who wants to “build a tower” and how important it is for them to make sure they have enough money to complete it otherwise they set themselves up for ridicule when they begin to build something they aren’t able to finish to completion. It also talks of a king who is about to go out to war who needs to “consider” if he is able to fight with the soldiers he has against all obstacles because if he can’t he needs to reconsider.

Marriage can be put into the same context. Make sure you and the person you are marrying have considered “the cost” of what you are about to do and if not, the honorable thing to do would be to back away before the marriage —not afterward.

Marriage is meant by God to be a commitment for life even when difficulties develop that deeply stress one or the other marital partner and strains their “happiness” together. If you don’t both go into marriage with the same steadfast commitment to God to make every marital situation that could come into your lives together work to the glory of God, I’d really advise the couple not to marry. It’s too important to God and should be too important of a fact for us to ignore as well, in what marriage is supposed to be all about from God’s kingdom standpoint!

As Dr Emerson Eggerichs states (which we agree with),

“Marriage is a tool and a test to deepen your love and reverence, trust, and obedience for Jesus Christ. This is not about you. It’s about Christ—becoming as Christ in your character as to how you relate to each other.”

I hope my answer to you will give you some kind of insight into this type of situation. I wish I could paint a different picture of this situation but this is the way that I see it from a marriage education standpoint —even as a Bible-living Christian.

This article is written by Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International.

PLEASE NOTE: Since writing this original article it has been pointed out to us that some marriages, where there is a large difference in ages, DO work out well. And that is a great point that I should have stated stronger originally. We don’t ever want those who are in this type of situation who are considering marrying to back away because a marriage like this would be hopeless in working —because that would be untrue. It would not give God the elbow-room to work miracles in situations He has ordained to work this way. And we definitely serve a miracle-working God!

But rather, we want those who are considering entering into this type of marriage to be prepared for the possible problems that could await them. If you’re taking a long journey and you have the opportunity to be better prepared ahead of time because you were fore-warned, it could definitely work to your benefit. That’s how we hope to help you. If you plan to climb Mount Everest and you didn’t take the proper equipment or you didn’t know to take along certain gear that you’d need, you’d be glad to know that ahead of time.

But on the other hand, if you’re planning on climbing Mount Everest and you (or your partner) really aren’t the type person who could withstand the rigors this type of “journey” could thrust upon you in the long-run, you would be foolish to proceed. We want you to prayerfully consider if you’re in one type of situation or the other because a wrong decision could bring devastating results.

Thoughts of marrying someone can be very romantic. It’s easy to think that we can climb over any type of mountain, as long as we’re together. But we need to make sure that we’ve considered ahead of time all we need to so we go into this very important commitment prepared as best we can —or stop from proceeding any further if that would be best. We hope the above article has done that for you.

For additional information, below are links to articles that may help you in the prayerful decision-making process. Please click onto the links below to read:





Filed under: Preparing for Marriage

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204 responses to “AGE GAP – Should It Matter?

  1. I like what you have to say, however when I look at the stats on divorce, and then second divorce and even third divorce, more often than not they’re among couples who are close in age. From my own personal experience, I was faced with a divorce that I did not want. Never the less the marriage ended, and I was left with some unfortunate scars. Eventually those scars will heal.

    In regards to the age difference, age is just a number after all. Looking back at my past 13 years of marriage with someone my one age, and considering a potential relationship with some one 16 years younger than me, here’s what I’ve learn. God MUST come first for both of you. He is the foundation on which all things are built. Second, equally yoked does not mean age, it means goals, spiritual desire to be close to our creator, enjoying the same things in life, and being united in so many aspects in life you as a couple have more than one out let form the stresses of life.

    From my previous marriage I was young, and all I thought equally yoked meant was for both of us to be Christians. I was so wrong in my thinking. I did a disservice to myself and my former spouse. She’s a great mother to our two wonderful children. Emotional stability is also key. Everyone is codependent in relationships some way or another. It’s important to understand on the deepest level what that means (you can find out more by searching love addiction on Google).

    When I look at the relationship that I would like to pursue I see many issues, most of which are not related to age, but emotional and educational stability on both our ends. Remembering that Love is patient and God’s will is just, we need to let the person we love have the space the need to grow, at all ages.

  2. I was 19 when I married my husband, he was 31. Our story is one in which many people predicted would never come true, due to age and other factors as well. We got married after 7 weeks of meeting each other online. Prior to meeting, we both were spiritually mature and knew exactly who we were in Christ and also what we desired in life which was a godly marriage and family.

    After our first phone conversation I was so intrigued by his desire to serve the Lord. After a few weeks it seemed like we had known each other for years, we were constantly talking on the phone (we lived in different states) and he drove up to my city every chance he got. But not long after we met his vision started to suffer, and there was a real chance that he was going to lose his vision permantly. When he told me over the phone that day, I burst into tears. Suddenly my carefree love at first sight romance just got real.

    A coworker asked me why I was crying for someone that I didnt have to be with, that I could choose to walk away and not have that type of life. But in that moment I knew that I had found the one. Because nothing in life is guatenteed. When God showed me the man I was to marry, he showed me very openly and honestly that marriage is hard. It isnt hard because you married someone older or younger, it is hard because it is affected by the uncertainties that life brings.

    Instead of considering age as a potential disaster when choosing to marry, consider life as the source of problems. Marriage is a part of life and it is simply a matter of accepting it for what it is as opposed to trying to prevent all possible problems in order to avoid a recipe for divorce. Marriage will have problems because life has problems. Plan for it and accept it and decide to work through it but dont think that you are saving yourself from a lifetine of misery just because you married someone your own age. Take a leap of faith and let God show you who you need to commit your life to.

    1. I like your post and I agree with you 100 percent. We are a people of faith. God will make a way when it is His will.

  3. Hello, I was disappointed to read your original response to this query. I’ve researched this particular topic recently, and to my knowledge the Bible says nothing to prohibit marriage because of age difference. Certainly society (the world) had it’s own ideas and will discourage and even discriminate against others for any reason they see fit. Sadly, many times that, which is acceptable in God’s eyes is condemned by society, and even worse that, which is condemned by God is acceptable to society. We, as Christians, are certainly pulled back and forth in between.

    I did want to make one point. In your original post you pointed out the several potential difficulties that couples with significant age differences might face, and recommended that they be prepared to “work extra hard” to make it. I got to thinking about people that I know that have successful relationships and realized that in all of them, they had to “work extra hard”. It may not have been over age differences, but people and couples face a multitude of issues in this life, and who’s to say that significant age difference is among the worst of them?

    I don’t have to tell you some of the terrible trials married couples face in this world. But Christ has already overcome this world. There are many things that can affect a person that can take away their energy, and even affect one’s mind. We should not enter into relationships with fear, but with faith.

    1. Susanna, The Bible doesn’t prohibit marriage because of age differences; the problem is with people, and the pressures of society that can bring problems. I’ve seen several marriages of those who have big age gaps work out well. But they were mature enough and committed to work through the tough stuff that comes up to make it work… and work well, at that.

      This article is just to give people a “heads up” to count the cost –to make sure that they are sure that they are sure that they are willing to climb every difficult mountain that will come their way as a result of the age gap. Marriage, in itself, can have its own set of “problems.” But then you add on the age gap and you have even more to overcome. If you go with Christ on this and go with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you can do fine, but if you listen to the “world” you can be in trouble.

      1. What you are saying is so true Cindy Wright!! Marriage, in itself, can have its own set of “problems.” If you go with Christ on this and go with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, you can do fine, but if you listen to the “world” you can be in trouble. I’m having this kind of problem as well. Could you please help me?

  4. I am in a relationship with someone 19 yrs my senior, and what I have with him is indescribable. He’s born again and we fast and pray together. We share the same dreams, and we want the same things in life. I don’t want to be with anyone besides him. We are both in the mining industry, qualified, well paid. So no one is after any kind of material gain. We are happy. I thank God for him everyday because he shows me love and I respect him for that.

    1. I pray this continues. Your relationship sounds much like other relationships (with or without age gaps) before marriage. The couple will enjoy each other so very much beforehand –“indescribable” is a good word for it. But eventually, when life starts (and keeps) hitting them, and time goes on, the shine wears off, and reality can turn that freshness into something that is no longer as beautiful.

      THAT’S when the truth of the greatness of a relationship comes forth (or doesn’t, in many cases). Are they able to find ways to keep sharing dreams and wanting the same things in life? If they are committed to each other, and more importantly to God, then they can get back to “indescribable” as my husband and I have, even after almost 43 years of marriage.

  5. Cindy, Thank you for the post. I believe you are trying to give the best help to people like me.

    I will be 42 years old in June. He just past 56 years old birthday, about 14.5 years gap. Some articles say a lot of people use “half age + 7 rule”. To my age, is 14.5 years gap a very big gap? We are all Christians. He has never been married. I have been divorced for 8.5 years, raised my son myself. I prayed many times to see what is God’s plan. He is in good shape, looks like 50 years old. I know life is uncertain. We all don’t know how many years left we have in this world. Two guys just passed away in 40’s in my community. My mom does not approve this relationship because of the age gap. She has been widow for 28 years.

    No relationship is perfect. No marriage is perfect. Did God already give me the ability to face the age gap and consequence I have to take? I am seeking His Will. If this is His Will, I will take it no matter what.

    I have hesitation. If he is 6 years older, I will not hesitate. Sometimes, I think, life in this world is temporary, then should we even care that much of the time in this world?

    Should I wait for the moment, that I ignore my mom’s disapproval and choose to marry him? We all know and agree, if we get married, death will be the only reason to separate us. No other reason allowed.

    I have strong feeling to him. I vision the time we get married.

    If any of you have time, please give me some of your thoughts. Hope God can speak to me through you. Thanks!

    1. Crystal, I don’t know you or this man. It’s difficult for me to say what you should do. But given your age, that you both have “been around the block a few times” and from what I perceive of your sensitivity to do what is right, I believe you may do okay, if you marry. I’m thinking your bigger issues will be because he has never been married, and you will have to be careful of emotional baggage you may have from your first marriage. This will be quite an adjustment for you both. It will also be an adjustment to your son. You have him to consider too. You have a lot of big issues to get beyond. Be prepared.

      I have to say that I’ve seen some couples marry that have bigger age gaps going than yours and they have wonderful marriages. BUT they also approached their marriages with equal commitment, an even stronger commitment to the Lord, and both were willing to find ways to climb over any obstacle that came their way. They approached marriages, not as ideal starry-eyed couples, but those who were level-headed, determined to “live a life of love together” no matter what came their way. And for those reasons, they have been successful.

      I’ve also seen those who have less age gaps going that had disastrous marriages. So there you have it. A lot of it has to deal with integrity issues, also maturity, mutual commitment, living in a world that is less marriage-friendly, determination to deal with issues properly when they arise, and also a depth of the relationship you both have with the Lord.

      Crystal, thanks for your confidence that I can give you advice that can help. I wish I could give you more of a conclusive answer, but this isn’t the type of situation that lends itself to that. As far as your mom, if you feel God is leading you, then ask her for grace and to be as supportive as possible. This isn’t her way, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be yours, unless she points out some really good reasons (such as she thinks he’s a womanizer, etc.). If she has good reasons like that, then listen. If not, then ask for grace and love, even though she may not agree. I hope this helps.

  6. Please, I am a single 50 year old man, and my fiance is 23. We’re both believers. We just started courtship. She expressed her greatest worry about the age gap to a friend though confessed she loves me so much and would be willing to go with me. But anytime I remember the age thing and what people might say I get low and like I should tell her we should part. I love her sooo much.

    1. Hi, I married a 23 yr. old when I was 49 for lust. Later we were saved; we made it 19 yrs and have a wonderful 21 yr. old boy. It fell apart about the 18 yr., when she seem to fell away from Christ. My son lives with me and we have a wonderful time together. I am 72, I work out, run and am in very good shape. Age was never a problem, in any respect.

  7. I have a 20 year old daughter and dating a guy 24 years of her senior. I have brought up the issues identified by Cindy to discuss with her and did not seem to getting anywhere. Cindy, do you have any suggestions? She is still at university.

  8. I am a 26 yr male and love a 37 yr lady. She is divorced and has two daughters. The older one is 19. We had a relationship for a month until when we parted. During this time she was 3 weeks pregnant. I lost trust for her because of her behaviors and explained it to her and asked her if we could end the relationship but I will provide for her. She didnt accept but I prayed to God to end our relationship and that we may lose feelings for each other. Due to distance, the intensity of affection has lowered but I still have feelings for her. I am thinking of the baby and how much I used to love her. My problem is she is not born again and I would not want to be in a relationship with her that way. During our relationship we were both unbelievers but now I am a changed man and I believe. What can I do for her to change cause I really love her and would like to marry her. Please advise me. You can ask for clarifications.