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The current divorce rate is a lot lower than you might think

If you were asked to guess the divorce rate in this country, what would you say? Chances are good that you’d say something like “half of all marriages end in divorce.” This is a heavily cited statistic, and one that is often used to bolster arguments about the decay of “family values.”

But the statistic is also untrue. There was a time when the divorce rate reached somewhere around 50 percent. But a close look at statistics actually reveals that divorce rates have been declining since their peak in the early 1980s. The decline has been consistent enough that if trends continue, we may soon reach a point at which “two-thirds of marriages will never involve a divorce,” according to a recent news article.

There are some fairly obvious reasons for declining divorce rates. One prominent reason is that on average, men and women are entering into first marriages a few years older than they used to. As of 2004, average marriage ages for men and women were 27 and 26, respectively. This often means that each spouse has had more time to become economically stable and likely has a better sense of themselves and what they are looking for in a partner.

Cohabitation is another reason why divorces may be decreasing. It is now common for couples to live together prior to getting married, which can serve as a test run for marriage. In some cases, couples are choosing cohabitation instead of marriage.

Of course, statistics are interesting but they are only so helpful in individual cases. If you feel that your marriage may be coming to an end, it probably makes little difference to learn that more couples seem to be sticking it out. In the end, you need to do what you feel is best for yourself and your family.

Source: The New York Times, “The Divorce Surge Is Over, but the Myth Lives On,” Claire Cain Miller, Dec. 2, 2014

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