Restoring Our Faith in Marriage
So what are the real overall divorce rates? I believe the best measure comes from a 2009 study from the Census Bureau, which shows that 71 percent of once-married women (and 81 percent of men) are still married to their first spouse! Plus, the 29 percent who aren’t still married includes those who have been widowed! Based on the rates of widowhood and other factors, we can estimate that somewhere around 20 to 25 percent of first marriages have ended in divorce. Even among the highest-risk group – baby boomers – seven in ten are still married to their first spouse. They’ve had 30 years’ worth of chances to get divorced, and are still together.
While any amount of divorce is still too high, knowing that the overwhelming majority of marriages last a lifetime is great news that needs to be a part of our conventional understanding and everyday conversation around marriage.
Second Marriages Aren’t Doomed, Either
Nearly everyone who is on their second marriage has heard that outcomes are even worse after their first marriage, that 60 percent (or more) of second marriages end in divorce. Talk about a discouraging, self-fulfilling prophesy! Yet that statistic appears to be a pure urban legend. Encouragingly, the same 2009 Census shows that 65 percent of women who have remarried are still married to their second spouse – and again, the remaining 35 percent who aren’t includes widows. The second marriage divorce rate is probably closer to 30 percent. These numbers should give great hope to anyone who finds themselves “single again” or marrying for the second time.
I recently joined the advisory board of ChristianMingle, which also reports encouraging news for parents looking to remarry. A fascinating study done by the group revealed that 74 percent of singles would probably or definitely marry someone who has children from a previous relationship.
Marriage and the Church
We also need to debunk the often-repeated adage that “the rate of divorce is the same in the church.” When I looked at a host of studies, and partnered with Barna to re-run their numbers to include church attendance, it is clear that people who actually attend church have a drastically lower divorce rate – about 25-50 percent lower! – compared to those who don’t.
To add a comment you need to be a registered user or Christianity Today subscriber.