The following article was prompted by an email we received here at Marriage Missions. It concerns age gap —should it matter? We have edited it and changed the name to protect the identity of this writer.
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. This 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. 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. It’s 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.
A Concerned Reader
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. It can emotionally separate married couples more than it looks like it should from a spiritual standpoint.
But unfortunately, we live in a world where divorce is becoming a common way for couples to resolve differences. For that reason we have to be all the more cautious when entering into marriage.
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. That is because the older spouse eventually gets into health and energy issues that the younger spouse 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 younger sons have to do certain things. I can’t even imagine having to do those things at this stage in my life. If I had a younger spouse (or my husband 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 prayerfully at the reality of what the upcoming years could most likely bring to challenge their love and commitment. It’s important 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.
Sometimes It Does Work Out
I have seen a few good marriages where the large age gap worked out fine. 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 sure they’re considering marriage for more reasons than the emotional rush. It’s important to consider the possible “costs” involved up front so they 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!
Not Rude, or Self-Seeking
Love also, is “not rude” (when you see the sags and bags that your spouse may be developing 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 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 socializing together can happen to even younger couples. But it can be even more of a reality as our ages progress. (Of course, 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.
Consider the Cost
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.” It’s important for them to make sure they have enough money to complete it. Otherwise they set themselves up for failure when they aren’t able to finish to completion. It also talks of a king who is about to go out to war. He needs to “consider” if he is able to fight against all obstacles that are against him.
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. If not, the honorable thing to do would be to back away before the marriage —not afterward.
A Commitment for Life
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 work to the glory of God, I’d 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.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this article.
Since writing this original article it has been pointed out to us that some marriages with large age gaps DO work out well. And that is a great point that I should have stated stronger originally. We don’t want to discourage those who SHOULD marry to hold back. 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, 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 know to take along certain gear that you’d need, you’d be glad to know that ahead of time.
If you’re planning on climbing Mount Everest and you aren’t the type person who could withstand the rigors this type of “journey”, you would be foolish to proceed. 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 so we prepare as best we can. Or we need to 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:
• UNDERSTANDING AGE GAP RELATIONSHIPS
• [DON’T] MIND THE AGE GAP (part 1)
• [DON’T] MIND THE AGE GAP (Part 2)
More from Marriage Missions
Filed under: Preparing for Marriage
230 responses to “AGE GAP – Should It Matter?”
I’m a 68 year old female caucasian and my husband of almost 3 years is Korean. This is his first marriage and he has no children. I have three grown daughters and we have 8 grandchildren. In our situation, he is “older” than I am. My energy level and “fun” level is much higher than his. His culture is entirely different than mine. His culture is “ageist”. Before anything else is said on meeting someone new, they ask “how old are you”? Then, their conversation is customized to fit the age of the person being spoken to.
We are extremely rare but since he is Asian and I’m not, and since I look much younger than I am, we get very little notice other than the cultural differences.
I am a Christian and didn’t really want to marry again but the Word says it is better to marry than to burn and like everyone else, we wanted to be loved and cherished by someone. We respect each other very much and we recognize each other’s strengths and weaknesses.
His libido is lower than mine. We love to work out together, go mountain climbing, play board games. He wears the same clothes day after day and I love clothes and fashion. We are very different, but what I’ve found is to “cast all your cares and anxieties on Him (Christ) because He cares for us”. Live each day as it comes, love unconditionally and God will work out the details.
It should be left to God and no human should judge or interfere with his plan. If He wishes it to be, so it shall be. Age gap or not, if He places them together in marriage it is His will. they will know His will for them and will honour it.
I have been dating a younger lady and because of our religious backgrounds we have not had any sexual relations. We believe that is saved for marriage. But I fear the age gap. I am 58 she is 24 and wants a family. If this goes the path it’s on, and we marry will it work?
2 years ago but I got to reply. I can not imagine being 60+ years old with a BABY!! I do good just to feed the dog! Will it work? maybe, but when she is in her late 40’s & 50’s wanting to travel, go dancing, still have sex, you will be 85 yrs old. The younger guys will be looking good to her.
I married a man 12 years older than me. We have been married for 7 years now. I am 34 and he is 46. We are both Christians. He is very devoted to God and has way better faith than I do. We have had many difficulties in our marriage, even at the beginning of our marriage. Now that I think about it, I was definitely not ready to be married. I was not mature enough and not responsible enough. I way overestimated myself.
My mom at the time was supportive and said that age is just a number and I would crazy not to marry him… Now my mom is not alive anymore. My parents had an unhappy marriage, though they only differed one month in age. My dad lacks empathy and my mom always sacrificed. Though she certainly had her mistakes. She was a devoted Christian and he wasn’t a Christian. I married my husband, because he is very responsible and has good faith in God. We both believe God brought us together, but I can’t possibly believe God would want us to be unhappy all the time.
Considering all the difficulties we have had and now it’s hard for me to accept our age difference. I feel constantly miserable and ashamed. I feel stuck and I don’t know what to do. He did made many sacrifices and I also made sacrifices. I wonder whether we should have children. He will be a bit older when we have children and if God wants… I feel confused and constantly emotional about my marriage.
Jeanine, You are living out the testimony of what this article is stating. The age gap DOES matter (not always, but very, very often). Let that be a warning to those that read this. But it’s what we do with it when that age gap becomes more noticeable that’s most important. I wish there was a re-do button that we can push and everything goes back to the way it was before we did something and we could instead make a different choice. But there isn’t. That’s just the way it is. We need to face that fact. And another fact is that there are different consequences for every decision we make when we come to a crossroads in our life. Will we do this or that? And what could happen to, not only us, but to others and to our testimony as a follower of Christ when we make those decisions?
Jeanine, I’d love to push a re-do button for you. I’d love to say–throw all caution out to the wind and go with your heart. But you went with your heart the last time. That’s why you’re in the place you’re in. You might say, “But I wasn’t ready. I didn’t know. It made sense to me at the time; but it doesn’t now…” … There’s all that and more. The fact is that you DID marry your husband. No one put a gun to your head making you take those vows. You did this of your own free will… Trust me; I don’t want to be harsh with you here. In your confusion, you are miserable enough. And I sure don’t want to add to it. But there is more at stake here than “just” your present happiness.
I wrote an article a number of years ago that I encourage you to prayerfully read. You can find it at: https://marriagemissions.com/leaving-marriage-because-god-wants-me-to-be-happy/. It comes down to the fact that the “happiness” reason for leaving a marriage is highly overrated. In this ministry we’ve seen SO many spouses who leave because they are “unhappy” –only to ruin so many other lives and they find eventually they aren’t happy with their new lives either. And we’ve also seen so many spouses who become prayerful and stay in their present marriages–only to find that eventually they ARE happy in that marriage. Go figure? We don’t know; but God does.
Above all of that, the biggest reason I would never tell you to leave this marriage is because of the Lord. What do you TRULY believe God would have you do? What would Jesus do? Could you imagine Him breaking up His visual picture of His love for the church to pursue His own happiness at the expense of the happiness of others? And what does this say about your character? Is it okay to make sacred vows and abandon them for the pursuit of seeking happiness? And what happened to the belief that “God brought us together?” You now want to leave this man that He brought you together to be with to “love, honor, and cherish.” Isn’t that what you promised?
Jeanine, truly, this is a terrible place to be. But I don’t think God will keep you at an unhappy place for the rest of your life. I believe that as you seek God’s heart–to live “a life of love” as we’re told to do in the Bible– to be prayerful, loving, ministry minded, and seek God with your whole heart — God will work within you and through you to experience His joy and spread His joy. I know this is possible. I’ve seen it happen many, many times before. In the Bible we’re told that God is the “lifter of our head.” Pursue God’s will for your life. Ask Him to lift your head as you look to Him for your daily joy. Don’t dump out on your vows. Look for ways that God would have you live out your vows so you are in the center of His will. If your husband loves God and you love God… all things are possible!
“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ!” (Romans 15:5-6)
Wonderful response!!! My husband and I are DivorceCare facilitators and it is heartbreaking to see the many hurting and wounded people who were left because someone decided that they weren’t ‘happy’ and believed that was a worthwhile pursuit.
Thank you for sharing the truth in love!
Thank you Sheri. This is such a difficult situation. We WANT to give everyone the answer they are seeking. But that’s not always the one that God would have us give. As you said, there are too many “hurting and wounded people who were left because someone decided they weren’t ‘happy.'” We just keep pushing the hurt off to others so we can “move on” and pursue another type of happiness. Meanwhile devastation just keeps multiplying. Thank you for your supportive words. May God wake help us (including you and your husband) to help others so there is a little less pain in this present world. God bless!
Just reading the first two paragraphs of your story, a 12-year age gap is by far the least of your problems in your marriage, which is to say it isn’t a problem at all.
In a biblical marriage (versus a secular one), a 10, 20, or even 30 year age gap is irrelevant between two devout Christians, unless one of you are no longer able to have children but wants them. Most Christians see the primary mission of their marriage is to build God’s kingdom for His glory and, if biologically possible, bring more Christians into the world. Regardless of age, biblical marriage is about settling down, strengthening your faith with support from your spouse, having children, and raising them in the Christian faith with the help of friends, family and other fellow members of your church community. Moreover, the more children you have, the less time and money you will have for the social life of your days before marriage and children (as it should be). Therefore, there really is no issue of a 45 year-old husband trying to keep up with a young wife that has three kids because she will have enough to keep up with herself.
Thank you for this site. It has been very enlightening and very thought provoking. I found this sight to be very mindful in it’s thoughts to both sides of the younger and older, older and the younger in age, mind, body, health and spirit. I appreciate that God is the center of this conversation, knowledge, and commitment. Thank You Again For Your Heart and Ministry!
We appreciate your supportive words. They mean a lot to us to know that God is being glorified in what we do. God bless!
I would just like to say that these articles were very helpful to myself and my fiancé. We have a 42 year gap in our age. But when we’re together we don’t even notice it. We don’t even think about it. All we think about is what God is doing with us and for us and how he wants to use us together. Our relationship is so beautiful; we’re just so thankful to God for it. But there are people that know about us and they’re not very positive about it. They claim to be Christians but they don’t even pray about it. They don’t even ask God to show them if this is what he wants for us. They’re, unfortunately, very negative and hurtful and it makes me question their Christianity. I don’t see any fruits of the spirit in the things that they say. And it hurts my fiancé quite a bit. But God is helping her and he led her to this site and she shared it with me. So we both wanted to say thank you very much and God bless.