Forget candlelit dinners, romantic weekends away and showering your other half with compliments, the secret to a happy marriage is easy: the woman should be smarter than the man and at least five years younger.

A Bath University team, which recently did a study, has found that men who choose wife at least five years younger to them and even preferably smarter are more likely to sustain the relationship longer.

The researchers first read five-year-old interviews of more than 1,500 couples who were either married or in a serious relationship.

Then they followed it up by checking on 1,000 of the interviewed couples to see how many of the pairs were still going strong, reports the BBC news.

The group noted that in cases where the wife was five or more years older than her husband, they were more than three times as likely to divorce than if they were the same age.

However, when the age gap was reversed, the odds of marital bliss got higher.

The researchers also observed that couple who had never divorced were more likely to maintain a stable love life.

Dr Emmanuel Fragniere and colleagues concluded that people generally seek partners “on the basis of love, physical attraction, similarity of taste, beliefs and attitudes, and shared values.” However, “objective factors” like age, education and cultural origin “may help reduce divorce”.

The work was published in the European Journal of Operational Research.