by changing partners with each new child or every 4 or 5 years. She
suggests it could be our genetic inheritance.
More than a million people a year get a divorce. Who divorces?
What is the divorce rate? Divorce is most common among couples who
have been married only two or three years. 40% of men and 50% of
women getting a divorce are less than 30 (this will change as we
marry later). Between 10% and 15% of people aged 35 to 55 are
currently divorced. About 20% of marriages last less than 5 years,
33% last less than 10 years, and 40% last less than 15 years. For
three decades the most common estimate has been that one out of
every two marriages will end in divorce. The US divorce rate, highest
by far in the world, was thought by some to have stopped rising in the
1980's but that was misinformation. Recent estimates are that 65% to
70% of all new marriages will fail. There are many complex factors
involved in divorce. Examples: about 60% of teenage marriages last
less than 5 years. Being pregnant when married increases the chance
of divorce. Children of divorced parents are more divorce-prone.
Besides those who get a divorce, 80% of those who nevertheless
stay married have considered divorce sometime during their marriage.
So, if we are realistic, most of us can expect to have serious trouble
sometime in our marriages. Remember also that many marriages that
last are pretty unhappy or an "empty shell." Yet, marital troubles do
not deter us from trying again, 80% of all divorced people get
remarried, usually 3 or 4 years after their divorce. Thus, about one-
third of all married people today have been married before. The risk of
divorce is even slightly greater in the second marriage; about 50-60%
of remarriages end in divorce (Goetting, 1982). For unknown reasons,
third marriages seem to do better. Maybe we get wiser, older, or tired
of playing musical chairs.
Most are not prepared for marriage
In our culture, we have very unrealistic ideas about marriage. We
may falsely believe that marriage will bring us great joy (true) all the
time (not true). After a few years, marriage gives big thrills only
rarely. If your marriage is a good one, it gives mostly comfort,
closeness, satisfaction with our lives, fun with the kids, and deep
gratitude in quiet moments for the companionship and life together.
We falsely assume that marriage is maintenance-free, which is
absolute non-sense. Marriage takes attention, effort, and knowledge.
We are not given an instruction manual or the tools for maintenance
and repair of loving relationships. When "things go wrong," we don't
know what is wrong or what to say or who to talk to or how to change
our or our partner's feelings or behavior. Given our impossible
expectations of marriage and the fact that we were never encouraged
to face our naivete and ignorance about it, is it any wonder that we