There’s a theory that opposites attract. Yet, when played out in real life, a new study indicates that certain differences between spouses may actually contribute to the demise of a marriage. The study of 3,000 men and women was conducted by researchers at Emory University who aimed to determine how factors such as age, education and children impact divorce rates.

When it comes to age, the study’s findings indicate that the wider the age gap between spouses, the more likely a couple will divorce. Even a five-year age gap between spouses equates to an 18 percent increased likelihood that a marriage will end in divorce. When that age gap increases to 20 years, the couple is almost destined, or 95 percent more likely, to divorce than spouses who are the same age.

Researchers also examined how varying levels of education among spouses impact a marriage. In cases where one spouse attended college while the other did not, the couple is 43 percent more likely to divorce than spouses who have the same educational background and level.

Children appear to be another major influencer when it comes to marriage and divorce. However, in this case, children appear to positively impact a marriage with couples who have their first child while married being 76 percent less likely to divorce than couples with no children and those who married after the birth of a first child are nearly 60 percent less likely to subsequently divorce.

Of course all married couples; regardless of age, education or parental status encounter challenges during the course of a marriage. However, based on this study’s findings it appears as though couples who are the same age, have the same level of education and have children also have the best chance at staying married.

Source: Market Watch, “The bigger the age gap, the shorter the marriage,” Quentin Fottrell, Nov. 11, 2014