Marriage can sometimes be a bit of a touchy issue in age gap relationships, because if he’s significantly older than you are, there’s a good chance that he may have already walked down the aisle once or twice. And a lot of women who are in age gap relationships with much older men assume that if his previous marriage(s) failed, he either has no interest in marrying again, or probably won’t be very good at it the next time around. But as one study by Harvard Medical School shows, that couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Professor George Vaillant and his team of researchers tracked 240 men over the course of over 70 years, the longest-running study of this kind, to determine the relationship between marriage, divorce, and happiness. The results offer some good news for women in age gap relationships with an older divorced man—divorce can actually be a good thing for future relationships.
The findings from this study not only showed that many of the divorced men’s second marriages were happy and lasted decades, but also that these remarried men were actually happier than those who stayed in a troubled relationship just for the sake of staying married. That means that even if older men were married before their age gap relationships, it doesn’t mean that they won’t be capable of another, more satisfying marriage.
Even Vaillant, who spent 45 years overseeing the study, was surprised, because halfway through, he was convinced that divorce was a precursor for instability later on in life. “I was not prepared for what I discovered as the men evolved from their fifties into their nineties,” said the revered psychiatry professor.
With regards to age gap relationships, there’s a lot to take away from this study, most importantly that having a failed marriage doesn’t dictate the success of a second or third marriage. Everybody changes as they get older, including their needs, values, and desires. You aren’t the same person you were 20 or even 10 years ago and neither is he. For instance, during one of his lectures, Vaillant described a man who had three failed marriages, thanks to his heavy drinking. But at the age of 45, he met a woman who inspired him to turn his life around and the pair stayed together for over 40 years.
This just goes to show that you should never judge the success of your age gap relationships based solely on something that happened in the past. If your older man does have an ex-wife in his past, try to find out exactly what went wrong. Was it something he did or did they just drift apart? It can tell you a lot about where your own age-gap relationship might be headed.
What do you think: If a man has been divorced, would that be a dealbreaker for you, or would you still give him a shot?
Bingham, J., “The secret to a happy marriage – getting divorced,” The Telegraph web site, June 24, 2014; http://goo.gl/g1D9bf.