What Difference Does Age Make in Marriage?

Does age make a difference in marriage? We’ve heard from couples who ask if they’re too young or if there is a “right age” to get married. We’ve also had men and women ask us if a large age difference is really important—or if it just doesn’t matter.

Let’s start with the issue of how old you are when you get married. 

 Photo by Megapixelstock on Pexels

Photo by Megapixelstock on Pexels

Research has shown that the older a person is at the time of marriage, the higher the likelihood of having a positive experience in marriage. 

Why? Because an 18-year-old is completely different from a 26-year-old. If you’re just 18 years old and wondering why your parents think you’re too young, understand that a huge amount of learning and maturing will happen to you in the next few years. You’ll be going off to college or starting your first real job. You’ll no longer be living under your parents’ roof. You’ll be finding yourself, learning about yourself, probably making some changes and adjustments. You also will be a bit more grown up and have more to give to your spouse. The older you are and the older your spouse, the more chance that both of you will have learned a few things and will be able to settle in and give to each other as opposed to draining each other.

You may not see it now, but if you decide to marry at age 18, your immaturity will become apparent very quickly. Not that you can’t make it work, you can. But giving yourself the buffer of a few more years of life experience and maturity will make you that much better in your marriage.

Now, what about couples of very different ages? When a guy is 45 and a girl is 25, God may indeed be bringing them together but they will have very different histories that they need to try to blend. Everything from their backgrounds to what happened during those decades of growing up, to music, to culture, to passages of life. One of the main problems we find with such couples is the inability to get “in sync” simply because of those differences. 

Does this mean that a couple with ten, fifteen, or twenty years of age difference can’t make sense of a marriage? I think they can, but it’s much easier the older they are. For example, a 60-year-old marrying a 50-year-old will find it much easier to blend their histories than a 30-year-old marrying a 20-year-old. 
Bottom line, take the time in your dating to get to know each other and to see if you really can get “in sync.” Be honest with yourselves. It is indeed important, especially if one of you is quite young. Think this one through very carefully before getting married. 

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!

The Constant Drip of Nagging

Q: Sometimes I feel like such a nag. I don’t want to be a nag but I just don’t know how to get my husband to do the things that are important. 

A: You’ll probably have times where you simply get tired of hearing your own voice. Years ago when one of our daughters was in junior high, she just turned to Barb and said, “You know, Mom, every time I hear your voice I think of work, work, work.” Barb’s first thought was How can you say this to me? But then as she thought about it, she realized that it seemed like everything she said was a command, “Pick up your clothes. Have you done your homework? Clean up your room. Did you make your bed? How about that bathroom?”

 Photo by  Bryan Carlson  on  Unsplash

You’re in charge of your home and you want it to look nice. It reflects on you. So you may find yourself barking out the to-do list like a drill sergeant. However, nagging comes off as critical. It’s saying to your husband, “You’re so dense I have to keep telling you this over and over. You’re so lazy I have to keep reminding you or you’ll never get it done.” Proverbs 27:15 says, “A nagging wife is like the dripping of a leaky roof in a rainstorm.” 

You see, just as Barb was doing with our daughter, when you nag your husband, he’s going to hear his mom’s voice. He’s going to slip into rebellion mode. He’s going to feel like he’s being mothered—and he won’t like it. 

What can you do when you feel like you’re always nagging your husband? You need to step back and be quiet for a bit. Ask yourself why this particular thing is so important for you to continue nagging about it. Can you come up with a creative alternative so you don’t have to nag? Then communicate with your husband what you’ve discovered. You will find that a little bit of communication will go much farther than tons of nagging. 

*For more practical marriage advice, check out The Great Marriage Q&A Book. It's available in our online bookstore!

Divorce Seems Like our Only Option

Do you feel just plain unhappy in your marriage? Or that you’re no longer in love with your spouse? Some would say you should get a divorce so you can be “happy”—especially if it seems like there’s no change in sight. But we’re here to say—hang on! There is still hope.

 Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

Photo by Rene Asmussen from Pexels

The divorce trend in our country is fueled by an erroneous perception about the outcome of divorce. 

While we don’t know anyone who claims that divorce is painless, we have discovered that lots of people believe that divorce is the doorway to a fresh start and a happier life. 

These people reason, “If I could just get out of this dead-end marriage, if I could part company with my nagging spouse, I would finally be happy.” And with divorce rates among Christians higher than they are among the general population, we may safely assume that many believers have swallowed this lie as well. 

If you are sometimes tempted to believe that the grass is greener on the other side of the marital fence, forget it. It isn’t true. 

No matter how good your marriage is, you and your spouse will go through times of drought. Why? Because your spouse was never meant to satisfy you completely . . . only Jesus can love perfectly. Happiness in marriage is not found when both partners are devoted to having the other partner provide all the happiness for them. Jesus must have this foundational position in your marriage. 

Being a faithful, wise, and loving spouse ultimately relies upon your choice to be faithful to God. When a husband or wife is unlovable or unable to be made happy, the marriage can only survive when you find hope and happiness in God’s strength, power, and glory. 

Before you can ever know the deep security and confidence God intends for you to enjoy as a couple, you need to be certain in your heart that your relationship is rooted in a love that will never give up. Good things are possible because a bond exists between you, and God will not let you ignore it. He created the marriage bond—that solemn covenant—to be unbreakable. 

Recent research followed a number of couples who were unhappy in their marriages but refused to get divorced. Five years later these same couples rated their marriages as either “happy” or “very happy.”

What caused the difference? For one thing, time. If you just stay in a marriage and get past the stage of unhappiness, you are likely to find your marriage improving over time. Just think what could happen if we as Christians add to time the power of the Holy Spirit to truly give purpose to our marriages! 

Remember, love is a choice, not a feeling. You may not currently feel like you’re in love with your spouse, but because of the commitment you once made, you must choose to love and show it by your actions. You will find that the feelings will follow.

The Foundation of Friendship

Friendship is truly a foundation to any great marriage. That almost goes without saying. And it is significant that both husbands and wives rated companionship in their top five love needs. Husbands rated it as their number three love need; wives rated it as their number five love need in the survey we did of more than 700 couples for our book, The 5 Love Needs of Men and Women.

The fact is, you and your wife may see friendship in marriage a bit differently. When you hear the word friendship, what picture goes through your mind? Gary and I sometimes have different perspectives about friendship. Maybe you and your wife see friendship a bit differently too, but all of us can agree on one thing: Friendship involves togetherness.

Genesis 2 tells us, “The Lord God said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a companion who will help him’” (Gen. 2:18). God’s solution to Adam’s aloneness was the togetherness, the oneness of having a spouse.

What Does Friendship In Marriage Look Like?

Friendship with your wife isn’t really that hard. When a husband is emotionally joined to his wife, he wants to listen. Friendship with your wife is an enjoyable process and a threshold to discovering new aspects of her. It reinforces what is already there and strengthens the marriage bond. A good friendship with your spouse lays the foundation to support other areas of your marriage relationship. Other areas of marriage may fluctuate over the years, but the friendship factor is lasting.

What Are Your Wife’s Friendship Needs?

Let’s take a look at what some of your wife’s specific friendship needs may be. The best way to find out what she needs, of course, is to ask her. In addition to talking with her about your friendship, read the next few paragraphs to get a better understanding of what most wives’ friendship needs are.

She Needs You to Be Her Best Friend

Your wife probably has several close female friends. She might even consider one or two of them to be her best friends. Those friends meet some of your wife’s deep friendship needs. And, if you think about it, you probably are the beneficiary of those friendships because they strengthen your wife and make her a better spouse. Your wife needs these friendships, and you are a wise husband if you encourage her to maintain them.

But your wife’s friendship with you is different. You are her best best friend. You are her lifelong companion, the one who will be with her to the end. Her female friends may move away or move into a different phase of life that may diminish their friendship, but you are there for the long haul.

A best best friend outclasses all the others, and she looks to you to meet her needs in ways that surpass her other friends’ capabilities. Your wife needs someone with whom she can share absolutely everything: her ups and downs, her struggles and joys. She looks to you as the best friend who will celebrate her joys and victories without competition or jealousy.

She Needs a Safe Place to Be Herself

Your wife needs your friendship to be a safe place, a relationship in which she can completely be herself. Each day that Gary and I spend time together in friendship, our marriage becomes more comfortable. Because we have shared so many of our thoughts and feelings with each other over the years, we can almost sense what the other is thinking. And Gary is my friend not only in his words, but also in his presence.

She Needs Your Integrity

Your wife wants to know that your yes is yes and your no is no. In other words, she wants to trust you. And it is your integrity that will help build her ability to trust you. 

Your wife needs to know that when you say you will be home, you either will be home or will call to inform her of a change of plans. She needs to trust that when you get on the Internet, you are not giving in to the temptation of pornography but are honoring the Lord and your family. She needs to know that your public and private selves are one and the same as you mature and grow in the Lord. These are all issues of integrity.

She Needs You to Honor Her

One of the most valuable gifts Gary gives to me is honor. Most mornings, if you were to eavesdrop on our conversation, you would hear him affirming me for the littlest of things. He expresses his appreciation for me with an attitude of honor from the time he rises each morning.

Your wife needs you to honor her. That means you speak to her kindly and respectfully, not berating or belittling her if she does something that frustrates you. Honoring her means that you put her needs before your own. It means that you speak positively about her to others. It means that you tell her whenever you see in her a virtue or quality that speaks of God’s character.

As a result of your honor and respect, your wife will blossom with confidence and poise. She will also be very eager to repay you with the same respect and honor.

I encourage you to give your wife a sense of deep security in your friendship. Build your friendship with such stability that when you face the tough times, you will find comfort and peace in your relationship with each other.

Careful Not to Capture a Heart

Is it possible for a husband to cross a line with another woman without intending to? The short answer is: Yes. 

To put it bluntly, it is easy for a man to begin capturing another woman’s heart without even 

realizing it. You think you’re just having an enjoyable conversation with a coworker, but she may see it as the only attention she’s had all week. Before you know it, your conversations move from friendly chatter to intimate subjects. 

 Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

Photo by rawpixel.com from Pexels

We’re not suggesting you can’t have friendships with other women, but we are warning you that it’s easier than you think to capture the heart of another woman outside of your marriage. 

So, if you spend a lot of time around other women at work and at church — how can you make sure you never cross any lines with them? Here are some danger signals to look for in other women: 

    • Flattery 

    • Intense eye contact 

    • Inappropriate gushing 

    • Excessive reference to your importance 

    • Wanting to talk about intimate topics 

    • Touching your arm or rubbing your back during conversation 

    • Talking more about you than about her husband 

    • Performing as if you’re her audience 

Think of it this way, if this woman invited you into her house and you were alone, would the 

topics and conversation stay the same as they do in public and/or with an audience? If she is suggestive in her conversation, confiding about her husband not meeting her needs, causing you to sympathize with her or pity her, watch out. Does she tell stories that have a suggestive tone or lead you to see her in that light? Does she make references to her body or inferences about her bedroom? 

I know this may sound extreme, but it is best if you do not encourage touch with a woman other than your wife. If a woman is touching physically, it’s a good indication she is touching emotionally. If you are accessing the emotions of a woman other than your wife, you are entering a major danger zone. It is as intimate for her as preparing for sex—it is that serious. No matter how appealing the attention of another woman is to your manhood, an innocent friendship can quickly take you by surprise and lead you down a path that you’ll soon regret. 

A word of advice: Trust your wife’s instincts in this area. If she suggests that another woman is 

behaving inappropriately, your wife is probably right. Most women have radar, an innate alertness to nonverbal communication and an ability to translate body language into emotional facts. Your wife probably is able to see these things clearly, so don’t criticize or blame her warnings on insecurity. Regard it as a gift from God that will keep you out of danger. 

Most likely, you’re a “good guy with good motives” and you may like to give a hug to a gal once 

in a while. Unfortunately, you have no idea what condition that woman’s heart is in. If a woman isn’t having her emotional needs met by her husband, she could easily become set off by the touch of another man—by your warmly touching her. This is also true when dealing with single women. Coupled with affirmation and care, your touch could unintentionally start a forest fire.

*Our book, Guard Your Heart, can help equip you and your spouse with the tools to protect your marriage. It's available in our online bookstore!