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The seven-year itch: fact or fiction in the marital realm?

Various studies, coupled with anecdotal evidence, suggest that many relationships first become notably vulnerable to pressures and collapse after a handful-plus of years. A writer in a recent CNN article notes a timeframe between seven and 10 years when this often occurs. Indeed, there is even a classic movie of old named “The Seven Year Itch” that centrally addresses the theme.

The effect of such a phenomenon for divorce would seem to be obvious, namely this: statistics readily showing a comparatively higher divorce rate for couples within the first decade of marriage.

In fact, divorce-related numbers do not show that. Interestingly, and perhaps paradoxically, statistics reveal that the overall divorce rate in the United States has gone down -- and more than marginally -- over the past couple decades. According to a New York Times article, that significant drop applies to all demographics save one, including couples who are in the early -- and reportedly most vulnerable -- years of marriage.

The sole exception to that discernible trend is a group that Pepper Schwartz calls “50-plusers,” the age group that alone has experienced a strong uptick in its divorce rate over the same measuring period that shows a downward spike for everyone else.

Schwartz seems well qualified to speak on her subject, which might reasonably be termed “baby boomer singularity.” She is a sociology professor, as well as researcher and author on family matters, and what she has to say about the baby boomer exception to the rule as regards the divorce rate is interesting and even provocative.

We will take a look at Schwartz’s thesis in our next blog post.

Source: CNN, "Why are baby boomers so divorce-prone?" Pepper Schwartz, Dec. 9, 2013

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