We’ve all heard it a thousand times – from news outlets and friends, on TV shows and in magazines… A big myth that may have been true for a time, but has totally changed over the last 20 years…
“50% of marriages end in divorce,” people say, perpetuating a statistic from the 1970s that simply isn’t reality anymore! Not only is it just bad information, it may actual harm existing marriages too!
Think about it: with this idea of “half of marriages fail” floating around in popular culture, coming at you from every direction, it’s no wonder that so many people are willing to surrender to the problems they face – instead of working to resolve them. If people think that half of marriages are doomed to divorce, they may just assume they’re part of that 50%, and resign themselves to letting the marriage crumble.
So, if the myth isn’t true – what is?
Well, divorce rates in the 1970s and early 80s were actually that high – in some cases even higher – but today, the numbers are quite different. First of all, different age groups have different rates, people married during different eras or time periods may have different divorce trends, and the further back we look, the longer the couples in question have been married…
All of this makes divorce rates a little more complicated than a blanket 50%.
If we look at some of the actual data, we see that 70% of marriages that began in the 90s have made it to their 15th anniversary. We also see that for people with college degrees, the divorce is currently about 17%. The “refined divorce rate” – which is drawn from the number of divorces per 1000 women – is also a very telling figure. In 2008, the number of divorces per 1000 women was just 16.9.
In fact, that refined divorce rate has been falling for years. 22.6 per 1000 people in 1980, 20.9 in 1990, and 18.8 in 2000. Other statistics show the same – that the overall trend of divorce is A) on the decline, and B) not nearly as bad as we think it is.
With all of this modern information, researchers and experts have started to identify the sources of the divorce rate spikes in the past – and there are two major causes of the myth that persists today. Divorce rates were definitely higher in the 70s, and if you think about a couple of important American trends at the time, the high divorce rate starts to make some sense…
First of all, the Baby Boomer generation (born in the 50s) were a huge explosion in the population. As that generation reached adulthood, the numbers for pretty much everything began to skyrocket – including the rates of both marriage and divorce. If you think about the social trends of the 60s and 70s as well, it makes sense that some of the more traditional views of family and marriage began to change – which could have led to more people (specifically women) to leave their marriages.
Those social trends continue today, actually helping to reduce divorce rates year after year. More and more couples are living together before marriage, which probably helps them build a stronger connection for when they’re married – or they split up before ever tying the knot. Also, many people are getting married at an older age, which means more maturity and better communication skills.
It’s also worth mentioning that there are more tools and information available for couples than ever before! We’ve got online resources, books, videos, counselors, and all the latest research to help us make our relationships better. Culturally, relationships are under fewer “restrictions” from society, allowing couples to freely create the marriages they truly want to have – not just a traditional vision set out by previous generations.
All of this is good news for your marriage. Don’t let the myth of “50%” make you think that your relationship is destined to fail. Instead, take comfort in the fact that millions of couples all over the world are helping to reduce those rates by investing time and energy into their marriages to build a strong, loving bond that keeps them together through thick and thin…
For more advice on how to strengthen your marriage, check out the StrongMarriageNow System today!
Dr. Dana Fillmore and Amy Barnhart, co-Founders, StrongMarriageNow.com