Dating a sugar daddy or a cougar can be enticing with the luxurious gifts, rich life experiences, and the sexual thrill. But, if you're looking to marry someone older to support you, the appeal and perceived happiness will fade over time. A recent study published in the Journal of Population Economics found the greater the age gap between partners, the greater the likelihood of marital problems.

Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder noted at first, men who married younger wives are most satisfied, while men who married older wives are least satisfied. This pattern was also seen in women who married older husbands compared to those who married younger husbands. However, relationship satisfaction began to dissipate after 6 to 10 years of marriage with couples who have a big age gap.

Read More: Age Is Just A Number To Younger Men, Who Now Prefer Dating Older Women

Terra McKinnish, co-author of the study and a professor of economics at CU Boulder, believes the larger declines in marital satisfaction could be due to how age difference between couples affects their ability to respond to financial issues, like job loss.

“We find that when couples have a large age difference, that they tend to have a much larger decline in marital satisfaction when faced with an economic shock than couples that have a very small age difference," said McKinnish, who is also a research associate at the Institute of Labor Economics (IZA) in Germany, in a statement.

McKinnish and her colleagues analyzed data from the Household, Income and Labor Dynamics in Australia (HILDA) survey, a nationally representative sample of over 7,600 households containing about 20,000 individuals. The longitudinal survey began in 2001; participants get re-surveyed every year with questions that measure several facets of life satisfaction, including marital satisfaction. In marriages with large age gaps, researchers found marital bliss was only temporary; most couples were not compatible when it came to managing finances.

Upon observing how couples respond to negative shocks, specifically a major economic shock or a decline in their household finances, researchers saw a significant decline in marital satisfaction in couples with larger age difference than those similarly aged. This unhappiness could be due to one partner fearing their chances of re-employment, while the much younger partner is at the peak of their career. Or, these couples may not be in sync on life decisions, like having children or general spending habits.

Bride and groom Married couples with a significant age gap are more likely to have marriage problems than couples the same age. Photo courtesy of Pexels, Public Domain

Previous research found finances vary more among couples with large age gaps than those closer in age. Men who marry younger or older spouses earn less money than those who married women of a similar age. In the 2014 study, researchers analyzed the 1980 Census and found men married to women eight or more years younger or older earned on average $3,495 less per year than men married to women no more than a year older or younger. These stats are based on the general population, not on sugar daddies like Hugh Hefner.

Similarly-aged couples are more compatible in several areas of life, because they’re more likely to go through the same life experiences and stages together, while also being able to relate to generational culture. Previous research has found "age mates" are least likely to get a divorce. A one-year discrepancy in a couple's ages makes them 3 percent more likely to divorce when compared to their same-aged counterparts; a 5-year difference makes them 18 percent more likely to split up; and a 10-year difference makes them 39 percent more likely. Those who enter a 20-year difference or more, the odds of divorce are not favorable.

Read More: Women With 2 Or More Premarital Sex Partners Face Higher Divorce Rate

So, sorry Aaliyah, but when it comes to marital satisfaction, age is more than just a number.

See Also:

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