Age is just a number, so they say.  Whether there’s a one-day age difference between you and your partner, or 30 years, all you need is love, right?

That may be so, but researchers from Emory University in Atlanta say that age difference can play a part in determining if a relationship will last the distance.

They looked at 3,000 people and determined that when there was a greater age gap, there was also a greater risk of the couple splitting up.

Couples who had a five-year age gap were 18 per cent more likely to break up than a couple who were the same age. The figure jumped to 39 per cent with a 10 year age gap, and the chance of separation rose to 95 per cent for those with a 20 year age gap.

The ideal age difference seems to be a one-year age gap, where the chance of divorce is three per cent.

One of the researchers, Hugo Mialon, said: “It could just be that the types of couples with those characteristics are the types of couples who are, on average, more likely to divorce for other reasons.”

One reason for the pattern could be that partners have conflicting goals and interests at different stages in their lives.