Further look at divorce

If marriage is so great, why do so many couples get divorced?


The divorce rate in the United States is about 50%. That means that marriages on average people have about a 50% chance of divorce. And there are several predictors of whether or not a marriage will succeed or fail.

Your risk of divorce decreases by:1

  • 24% if you marry after the age of 25.
  • 30% if you have an annual income of over $50,000.
  • 13% if you have a college background.
  • 24% if you don’t have a baby until seven months or more after marriage.
  • 14% if your parents were not divorced.
  • 14% if you have a religious affiliation.


  • When a guy is married as a virgin, his divorce rate is 63 percent lower than a non-virgin. For girls, it’s 76 percent lower.2

These factors can have a cumulative effect.  So if you are a reasonably well-educated person with a decent income, come from an intact family and are religious, and marry after age twenty five without having a baby first, your chances of divorce are very low indeed.3

Even when married couples are struggling, the statistics show they will benefit greatly if they stay together and work through their problems:

  • 3/5 of unhappy married couples report within five years that they are either “very happy” or “quite happy” in their marriage.4

Marriage has the capacity to be a wonderful thing, but couples must be committed to building a healthy relationship. And that takes hard work, patience and sacrifice.  It’s worth the effort because married couples in general are happier, healthier and more prosperous than cohabiting couples and singles:

  • According to a large-scale national study, married people have both more and better sex than do their unmarried counterparts. Not only do they have sex more often but they enjoy it more, both physically and emotionally.5



  1. Matthew D. Bramlett and William D. Mosher, Cohabitation, Marriage, Divorce and Remarriage in the United States, National Center for Health Statistics, Vital and Health Statistics, 23 (22), 2002. The risks are calculated for women only.
  2. Edward O. Laumann, et al., The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994), 503.
  3. David Popenoe, “The State of our Unions: The Social Health of Marriage in America 2007,” National Marriage Project.
  4. Unpublished research by Linda J. Waite, cited in Linda J. Waite and Maggie Gallagher, The Case for Marriage (New York: Doubleday, 2000): 148.
  5. Linda J. Waite and Kara Joyner, “Emotional and Physical Satisfaction with Sex in Married, Cohabiting, and Dating Sexual Unions: Do Men and Women Differ?” Pp. 239-269 in E. O. Laumann and R. T. Michael, eds., Sex, Love, and Health in America (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2001); Edward O. Laumann, J. H. Gagnon, R. T. Michael and S. Michaels, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 1994).