Divorce Rate in the United States is Declining

Facts matter. Especially when you run an internet-based business and deal with a subject so steeped in emotion. The reason I bring this up is a New York Times article that came out this week with a reiteration of facts that will probably change nobody’s feelings about marriage.

That oft-cited statistic that 50% of marriages end in divorce, repeated endlessly by divorcees and people who don’t want to get married? It’s false.

My job is not to help people get married, but to get HAPPILY married.

“Despite hand-wringing about the institution of marriage, marriages in this country are stronger today than they have been in a long time. The divorce rate peaked in the 1970s and early 1980s and has been declining for the three decades since.

About 70 percent of marriages that began in the 1990s reached their 15th anniversary (excluding those in which a spouse died), up from about 65 percent of those that began in the 1970s and 1980s. Those who married in the 2000s are so far divorcing at even lower rates. If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce.”

This doesn’t guarantee that all marriages will be long-lasting, nor does it guarantee that the lasting marriages will be happy. My job is not to help people get married, but to get HAPPILY married.

Yet I’m always very surprised to discover that people WANT the 50% divorce rate to be true. Maybe it’s more validating if you look around and see that your marriage isn’t the only one that’s busted up.

When my wife got divorced (as did her two best girlfriends) in their early 30’s, they had a saying: “Everyone cheats, nobody’s happy.” It was a little black humor that gave them solidarity. But in fact, only one of their relationships involved infidelity, and now, all three women are happily remarried.

I certainly never intended to be a pro-marriage crusader; in fact, I’m not. But I am very driven by distinguishing the signal from the noise. And it’s hard to help people in relationships if they’re going under the false assumption that most marriages are doomed to fail.

So here are the facts, once and for all:

Marriages have gotten more stable as people are marrying later.

Living together before marriage means more ill-fated relationships end in breakups instead of divorce.

Better-educated Americans have found a new marriage model in which both spouses work and they build a strong economic foundation for their marriage.

If current trends continue, nearly two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce.”

If you’re college-educated and over the age of 30 when you get married, you have a 80% chance of success.

Get an education, have some life experience, have some relationship experience, make some money, date for at least two years, move in together to be sure you can handle it, and THEN get married, and you will give yourself the optimal chance of a long-lasting happy marriage.

And that’s not my opinion.

P.S. The existence of a high-school dropout who married at the age of 20 when she got accidentally pregnant and is still happily married thirty years later does not negate these facts.