Myth Buster Monday: “Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.”

Myth Buster Monday: “Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce.”

“Fifty percent of marriages end in divorce” is such a widely touted statistic that it has become a part of our national mindset.  This mindset has lead to great pessimism and even fear for those who might be considering marriage and offers an excuse for divorce to those who have a marriage that is struggling – after all “everyone is getting divorced.”  But is the statistic accurate?

The answer is:  depends upon which marriages?    Fifty percent of ALL marriages do end in divorce.  But here’s the number we want you to remember and share:

More than 70 percent of all first marriages succeed.  Seventy percent of all people who have ever been married are still married to the same person!

So where’d the 50 percent number come from, you ask?  Those who marry, divorce, re-marry, divorce, and re-marry and divorce are dragging the overall average down to 50 percent.

Although a first-marriage divorce rate that hovers around 28 percent is far from ideal, that number tells a different story about marriage than the continual drum beat about divorce being such an inevitable part of marriage.  The vast majority of marriages can and DO succeed!

On this Valentine’s Day, take the opportunity to share this news.   If you’re married, go out and do something to strengthen yours.  If you’re single, recognize the importance of marriage to your life and prepare to have a happy one –life and marriage – the vast majority of people do.

Here are a interesting few studies:

Married people are more likely than those who are not married to be very happy. Forty-three percent of people who say they are very happy are married versus unmarried people, 24 percent of whom say they are very happy. “Are We Happy Yet?:  A Social Trends Report,” Pew Research Center, February 13, 2006.

People who are married report the highest levels of well-being, regardless of whether they are happily married or not. “Even when controlling for relationship happiness, being married is associated with higher self-esteem, greater life satisfaction, greater happiness, and less distress.” Claire M. Kamp Dush and Paul R. Amato, “Consequences of Relationship Status and Quality for Subjective Well-Being,” Journal of Social and Personal Relationships 22, 5 (2005): 607-627.

Two-thirds of unhappily married spouses who stay married reported that their marriages improved within five years.  The most unhappy marriages report the most dramatic turnarounds: among those who rated their marriages as “very unhappy,” almost eight out of 10 who avoided divorce are happily married five years later. Linda J. Waite, Don Browning, William J. Doherty, Maggie Gallagher, Ye Luo, and Scott M. Stanley, “Does Divorce Make People Happy?  Findings from a Study of Unhappy Marriages,” New York:  Institute for American Values, 2002: 148-149.

  • Irwin
    Posted at 19:48h, 18 February

    I love this site. Marriage can and should work. If you’re a young person who has had his mind warped by cable TV and MTV, read my book and make the right decisions to have a great marriage.

  • Robet A Fournier
    Posted at 14:14h, 05 March

    I have been happly married to the same lady for 56 years. Of the hundreds of coupals I’ve known, and many I’ve married, I know of only one couple who has separted. I know there has been a rise in devorce rates but not to the degree reported in the media.

    Deacon Bob Fournier

  • bdert
    Posted at 17:19h, 28 May

    Of the 50% that are still married…several questions loom…1.Are they happily married? 2.Are they remaining married out of formality or tradition? 3.Would it be financially prudent to get divorced? 4. Are kids preventing divorce? just a few…

  • Anastasia
    Posted at 18:19h, 17 July

    Very interesting, but unfortunately not what I’ve personally experienced. My own mother has been married twice/divorced once, my father married thrice/divorced twice…and of my 5 high school friends I still speak with monthly, only 1 has parents that are still together.
    As for myself, I am one of the above mentioned 24% who is actually happy being single. I’m willing to accept the theory that I’m biased due to what I’ve seen…but am still happy as I am.

  • J Rutherford
    Posted at 08:38h, 23 July

    Why do we even care? If you’re going to base your choice of what kind of relationship you have – happily married, unhappily married, happily single, unhappily single based on what everyone else is doing then you’re just a lemming..oh, there’s the cliff – get ready to jump!

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