How old were you and your spouse when you got married?

It may seem like an inconsequential factor for whether or not your marriage will succeed, but some studies show it could be.

In a Family Studies article by author and Family and Consumer Studies professor, Nicholas H. Wolfinger, stated, "...age at marriage now has a U-shaped relationship to divorce risk. The odds of divorce decline as you age from your teenage years through your late 20s and early thirties. Thereafter, the chances of divorce go up again as you move into your late 30s and early 40s..."

In essence, if you marry too young or too old, you may be at a higher risk of divorce. This wasn't always the case-the instances of divorce used to decrease as the marriage age increased, according to Wolfinger. Based on this study, the best age to get married is between 28 and 32 years old.

OK, just because there may be a majority of people that follow this trend, that does not mean you have to. There are many factors that can affect the success of your marriage besides age. Probably the biggest indicator of a successful marriage is how much work you and your spouse are willing to put into it - regardless of how young or old you are.

How can you have a successful marriage even if you've married "too young" or "too old"?

Forgive often

Nothing kills a relationship faster than holding grudges. Let go of the negativity and focus on the good things about your spouse. Being unforgiving will lead to unhappiness and being unsatisfied with your marriage. Your spouse isn't perfect, but hey, neither are you. Successful marriages are built on a lot of forgiveness.

Improve yourself

If there is something that you do that annoys your spouse and it is changeable, then fix it. We all have bad habits or behaviors that need improvement. If you're grouchy, messy, lazy, use a mean tone of voice to communicate or have a problem with being selfish, then you need to work on bettering yourself. Set goals and work toward them. Ask your spouse for support and encouragement in this endeavor.

Grow together

Find common goals to share with your spouse. Do you want to further your education, have greater financial security, raise a family and live a healthy lifestyle? Making these types of goals together can be a growing experience for couples. Succeeding and achieving can strengthen your bond. Even if things don't go according to plan (as they often won't), it is often through times of struggle that we rely on each other's strength and support. Sharing the same life goals is important in a marriage because you will work together instead of against each other.

Never speak ill of your spouse to another person

Sometimes people decide they need to vent about some terrible thing their spouse did. Whomever they tell may fuel the fire rather than help the situation. Not only that but long after the problem is resolved, the person you told - a friend, family member or co-worker-may continue to harbor negative feelings toward your spouse. This can perpetuate more negativity, hurt feelings or embarrassment in the future. If it really needs to be discussed, a counselor, therapist or clergy would be your best option. Instead, praise your spouse in public and in private.

Set aside time to be together

I'm a huge advocate of date nights. Before marriage, we get to know each other through dating. Sometimes, we forget that we still need to maintain our relationship after we're married. We change as individuals and couples throughout our life, and if we stop spending time together, we may discover we're now married to a stranger.

Make date nights a priority in your marriage. Use that time to talk, discuss the past week, be close to one another, flirt, hold hands and, of course, be intimate with each other. Spending time together allows for emotional, physical, spiritual and intellectual bonding. This is necessary to have a successful and united marriage.

Even though the statistics say you could be more likely to get divorced based on your age, you still have control over whether or not that will be true for you and your marriage. It takes work and dedication to reach success, but it is possible.

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