We’ve had a couple of questions from people who are concerned that their potential spouse is quite a bit older than they are and they are wondering if they should be concerned about the age difference and the issues and possible challenges that go with it.
The Bible doesn’t give us any clear cut guidelines regarding age difference in marriage. We know that Abraham was ten years older than Sarah, but I don’t think that’s an absolute. It’s just a fact. In my opinion, we need to be less concerned about age difference and much more concerned about the eight character traits (focusing on spiritual maturity) that Julie outlined a few weeks ago.
Beyond those traits, consider the stage of life the other person is in and prayerfully attempt to discern whether you will be a good match if you are in a different stage. For example, a man who is 40 is probably going to be more settled down than a man who is 25. The 40-year-old male might not desire to attend social events during the week on a regular basis, choosing to do so on occasional weekends instead whereas a 25-year-old might want to be away from home nearly every night of the week.
Certainly personality comes into play here as well, but if you are a 26-year-old female who wants a homebody, then a 38-year-old male might be the answer. But if you are a 38-year-old male who wants to be home most of the time, then marrying a 26-year-old female who wants to be on the go probably isn’t the greatest idea.
As an aside, I’ve heard the argument against big age differences when the male is older than the female because it doesn’t seem fair for a woman to marry an older man only to end up taking care of him shortly thereafter rather than enjoying a long marriage in which both gracefully grow old together. From a practical standpoint, I can see some merit in that argument, but I don’t think it should be an absolute. If a woman wants to marry an older man, there is no scriptural prohibition against it. She should do so though with her eyes wide open.
As for a younger man marrying an older woman—it’s not as common, as you know, but I don’t think it’s unbiblical. If a young man is mature and able to provide for a prospective wife, then he might find a better match in an older female.
Also, if children are important to you, consider the biological clock factor. Bringing biology into the equation is spiritual in nature since God created women’s bodies with the ability to carry and deliver children for a season, but not for their entire life. This is important for both the man and woman to consider ahead of time. If a young man desires children, then marrying someone who is unable to provide them for him is obviously not a good match. And if a woman who is thirtyish desires children but is concerned that a potential husband in his late 40s may not even be alive when the children turn twenty, then her concern is legitimate.
Of course, we don’t know what tomorrow will bring, but considering these and other factors when choosing a mate is wise.