The Factors That Predict a Stable Marriage May Surprise You

A happy mature couple outdoorsWe’ve all heard the dismal statistic that approximately half of all marriages end in divorce, but divorce isn’t a sudden and unpredictable event. Scientists have long attempted to uncover what makes for a stable marriage, but a new study by Emory University researchers endeavors to uncover what factors make divorce more and less likely.

Do Weddings Matter?

Researchers polled more than 3,000 people who got married in 2008 or later, then controlled for various demographic traits that could affect marriage stability. They found that one of the most significant predictors of marriage stability is the wedding itself. Couples’ likelihood of getting divorced decreased as the number of people who attended their wedding increased. A honeymoon also seems to help. Couples who took a honeymoon were 41% less likely to get divorced. Couples who spent more than $20,000 on the wedding, though, were more likely to call it quits.

But it’s not just the wedding itself that matters. The researchers also took a look at the lead-up to the wedding. Couples who spent less than a year dating prior to their marriage were more likely to divorce, with the likelihood of divorce steadily decreasing among couples who dated for longer periods of time. Those who dated one to two years prior to getting married were 20% less likely to get divorced, while those who dated longer than three years for 39% less likely to end the marriage.

Daily Life and Divorce

Couples who get divorced report a wide number of reasons for their divorce, but conflicts over values and money are often at the heart of couples’ fights. The researchers found that the likelihood of getting divorced dropped as income went up. Couples who made between $25,000 and $50,000 per year were 31% less likely to divorce than couples who made less than $25,000, while couples who made more than $125,000 were 51% less likely to get divorced.

Religion can also play a role. Interestingly, couples who attended church occasionally were 10% more likely to divorce than couples who never attended church, whereas couples who attended church regularly saw a 46% dip in their likelihood of divorce.

Attitudes Toward a Partner

We’ve all heard that it’s what’s on the inside that counts, and the study suggests that couples who feel otherwise may have a higher likelihood of divorcing. When one member of a couple reported that a partner’s wealth was important, the couple was 18% more likely to get divorce. Prioritizing a partner’s appearance was even more damaging, with couples 40% more likely to divorce when at least one partner says that a partner’s appearance is important.


  1. Francis, A. M., & Mialon, H. M. (n.d.). ‘A diamond is forever’ and other fairy tales: The relationship between wedding expenses and marriage duration. Social Science Research Network. Retrieved September 15, 2014, from
  2. Olson, R. S. (2014, October 10). What makes for a stable marriage? Retrieved from

© Copyright 2014 All rights reserved.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

  • Leave a Comment
  • Harry S

    Harry S

    October 16th, 2014 at 6:31 PM

    Wow so my wife and I have a ton of advantages. We are going in 5 years dating. We are in church everytime that the doors are opened, and we had 300 people at the wedding taking a meager honeymoon to st.croix…

  • Julian


    October 20th, 2014 at 3:56 AM

    Unlike Harry S, we only had about 20 people at our wedding and went away for the weekend… 25 years later though and still going strong!

  • Diana


    October 22nd, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    A great example of this happened right around the time of my own wedding. We decided to have a small pretty intimate affair, but we had fun. It was all of our friends and family but no one that we would be looking at and wondering who in the heck they were. By the way we had only dated about 6 months before tying the knot. About three weeks after ours we went to a wedding for friends of my husbands who had been dating for at least 6 years and they had this huge wedding and reception, beautiful from start to finish. Our marriage has lasted for going on twenty years now… and they were already living apart after 8 months.

  • Bruce


    October 26th, 2014 at 10:27 AM

    Hey I recently heard something about this on the radio and can you believe that they talked about couples binge watching tv together and how that predicted a stable marriage?

  • Bret


    October 27th, 2014 at 1:55 PM

    continue to say I Love you, even on the days when you don’t really feel like it

Leave a Comment

By commenting you acknowledge acceptance of's Terms and Conditions of Use.

* Indicates required field.

GoodTherapy uses cookies to personalize content and ads to provide better services for our users and to analyze our traffic. By continuing to use this site you consent to our cookies.