Does Age Make a Difference in Relationships?

“Rats know the way of rats.” -Chinese proverb

From the Rat-A-Tat-Cat card game

From the Rat-A-Tat-Cat card game

Gung hay fat choy! 2014 is the Year of the Horse. Twelve animals make up the Chinese zodiac: rat, ox, tiger, rabbit, dragon, snake, horse, sheep, monkey, rooster, dog, and pig. Each exhibits a different personality based on your birth year. As a kid, I remember seeing the zodiac printed on paper placemats in Chinese restaurants (our family establishment had ones with red curlicue borders). Besides the character traits, there’s usually a line about which other animals you would be compatible with.

There seems to be a pattern to this calculation: four year differences provide the best relationships. I’m not sure why. In fact, I would have thought the same age would work better with couples since people of the same cohort connect well because of similar experiences.

My parents will soon be celebrating their multi-decade anniversary (congratulations!), and they’re the same age. However, I have also seen almost decade gaps work really well. What do you think? Is there an age factor to compatibility?





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  1. My husband and I are 10 years apart. Based on your calendar, we’re not supposed to work, but I think we work pretty well. Of course, we’re still pretty young, so only time will tell.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Like I said, I’m not sure that calendar is 100% accurate. Wishing the best for you and your husband!

  2. The married couples I know all vary in age differences, from the same age to a difference of 15 years. So who knows?

  3. I think that great age difference could make a relationship harder because of generation difference, mainly. It’s not obligatory, though. Still, I know some couples that are 10+ years apart and they do behave strange. I mean, usually the man is older and he treats his wife as if she is a child, not letting her be her normal self.
    Maybe that are just those couple of cases. I don’t actually get along very well particularly with people 4 years apart from me, nor 8 years apart, for that matter.
    I believe, zodiacs are mainly a matter of entertainment. The idea of all the people born in the same year sharing characteristics is really very distant to me. The Western zodiac is more plausible. And still … :-)

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Thanks for your thoughts, Mariya! An interesting observation about the 10+ year relationships. I wonder if there’s a difference when the woman is older than the man?

  4. I think it’s more about the individuals involved than age.

    My husband and I are about 13 years apart.

  5. I don’t know to be honest. As for me, I wouldn’t have liked to be with a much younger or much older man, more for cultural and social reasons. I think that people from the same generation tend to share more common tastes and it makes life easier. Bravo to your parents for their long marriage.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      I also like being able to relate to my husband, who’s similar in age to me. Thanks about my parents!

  6. My husband and I are the same age- actually, I’m a few months older than him. *gasp*. Like Kirra said, individual personalities are probably more important than age. But, it also depends on relative age- i.e. 10 years between a 20 and 30 year old has more significance than the same spread between a 40 and 50 year old.

  7. Western culture is different. And they either say age is only a number OR they say age matters.

    Throughout most of China’s history, same age marriage or marrying an older woman was never a society norm culturally. This practice came from western culture and it will never work for the Chinese people.

    Furthermore, age does matter. But their is no magic number. It’s the range of age that matters.

    Chinese culture states 4 or 8 years apart between a spouse will bring a good marriage. And one can say any marriage between 2 to 10 years apart will be a healthy marriage.

    Same age or 12 years apart is seldom practiced. And they don’t turn out too well for the most of the peoples. For that of the West, how much of the cougar phenomenon, online marriages, and hook-ups turn into long lasting healthy marriages? I assure you the chances are very very slim and not worth the risks.

    • Jennifer J. Chow says

      Thanks for visiting my blog, Joseph, and for your insightful comments about the differences in culture and on relationships.

  8. One more thing. What the West considers a “large age gap” is not the same for that of China. So please do not compare to two different cultures as definitions will be different.

    Cultures throughout history often exchange and influence each other but it does not change the core culture.

    Lastly, I do not mean to discourage anyone’s relationship or marriage to whoever is reading my comment. My words and advise are for those who immediately sense their must be something wrong in the relationship to think back to what I said so they can walk away from it before it’s too late.

    For those that have already discarded the Chinese cultural values and customs, all I can say is good luck.

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