We’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.
- 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 http://ssrn.com/abstract=2501480
- Olson, R. S. (2014, October 10). What makes for a stable marriage? Retrieved from http://www.randalolson.com/2014/10/10/what-makes-for-a-stable-marriage/
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