Age may seem like just a number, but according to recent research, that number might have a bigger effect on your marriage than you think.

In a September 2014 study from Emory University, researchers surveyed over 3,000 married people in the U.S. to gain some insight into the association between how wedding expense affects marriage duration. They also looked at other potential marriage-extending or marriage-ending factors, such as how long a couple dated before tying the knot, the size of their wedding, and if they went on a honeymoon or not.

Some of their findings:

  • More money spent on the engagement ring and wedding increased the chance of divorce.
  • The bigger the wedding, the smaller the likelihood of divorce.
  • Those who embarked on a honeymoon were 41 percent less likely to split up.
  • A higher household income meant a lower likelihood of divorce.

One variable in particular that caught our attention, thanks to The Atlantic, was how the age difference between spouses related to the likelihood of divorce. To help visualize the data, data scientist Randy Olson created this chart:

Courtesy of Randy Olson
marriage stability age diff

This doesn’t mean being the same age as your spouse means you have zero chances of divorcing — just that as the age gap gets bigger, the likelihood of divorcing shoots up significantly. Couples who are 10 years apart are 39 percent more likely to divorce, and couples 30 years apart are 172 percent (!!) more likely. Maybe that explains why Billy Joel and Katie Lee, who were 33 years apart, couldn’t hack it.

It makes perfect sense for milennials—all the other generations hate you anyway, so there’s probably not much of a chance you and someone from a different generation could make it for the long haul! But don’t freak out. If you can recall from middle school science, correlation doesn’t necessarily mean causation. But it’s nice to know when statistics are not on your side so you can maybe look out for— and work on — any age-related differences that could take a toll on your marriage.

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