Will Hurricane Sandy Drive People to the Altar?

Just married sticker on back of car

According to a recent article, Hurricane Sandy may cause people to get even more serious about their serious relationships. Research has shown that marriage rates spike after a natural disaster. And about nine months after major power outages, hospitals tend to be inundated with new babies.

Sound like a tall tale? Well, psychologists believe that attachment theory is what creates this unique dynamic. When a major disaster hits, people reevaluate their priorities. And one of the major priorities in a person’s life is his or her closest relationship. According to a Journal of Family Psychology study from 2002, birth rates and marriages increased dramatically after Hurricane Hugo hit in 1990. However, upon further investigation, researchers also discovered that divorce rates increased as well. The authors of the study surmised that people who had been faced with a life-and-death scenario became motivated “to take significant action in their close relationships that altered their life course.”

Another research study revealed a sharp increase in births in the year following the bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in Oklahoma City. In contrast to that study, a 2010 study from The Journal of Population Economics examined data from 47 countries and found that advisories predicting severe weather and potential disasters caused birth rates to decrease. In either case, it appears that when people are faced with a natural disaster or life-threatening situation, they reexamine major decisions in their lives. Couples contemplating having children may choose to not put that decision off any longer for fear of an uncertain future. Partners considering marriage may choose to tie the knot sooner rather than later. And people who are unsure of their commitment to their mates may make a decision as to whether to stay in their relationship. In sum, evidence clearly shows that major catastrophes have a significant impact on important life decisions; the direction of that impact is still unclear, however.

O’Connor, Anahad. Really? Natural disasters can influence birth rates. The New York Times. N.p., 2 Nov. 2012. Web. 9 Nov. 2012. http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/11/02/really-natural-disasters-can-influence-birthrates/

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  • Joe

    November 19th, 2012 at 3:42 PM

    could go both ways
    either marriages go up
    or the divorce rate goes up
    that’s a pretty significant life decision too

  • Hector

    November 19th, 2012 at 3:47 PM

    Not good how external factors can egg and push us into taking decisions. While there’s nothing wrong with tying the knot, doing so out of a feling of insecurity is not a great thig either. Also decisions made in a sad state or under pressure due to a tragedy or affecting event are not too mature or well thought out. So this needs to be reconsidered.

  • Eve r

    November 20th, 2012 at 4:06 AM

    This is foolishness and nonsense if you alow something like this to be the deciding factor on whether or not you marry someone. I get how it could allow you to set your priorities straight and come to see the things that shoud be important to you in life. But I realy don’t believe that there are that many people out there who would let this dictate the person that they are going to marry. If anything for most of the people trying to impact some sort of personal economic recovery it could force them to postpone until there is some stability in their lives again.

  • tiara

    November 20th, 2012 at 2:15 PM

    well no harm in walking down the altar but if a natural disaster needs to ‘tell’ you when to get married then I really think you need to reconsider your priorities. what can decide when it’s the right time is your mind.dont let any external event send you running to something.that would just show how weak minded you are.

  • Belinda

    November 20th, 2012 at 4:30 PM

    Kind of sad that for many people it takes a crisis event such as this to show them the things in loife that are important. Most of us go along with little thought about what would happen if we were made a part of a story like this, but then when we are it tends to get us refocused on the important things. But what an awful way to have to have your eyes opened. I would much rather pay attention to the good things all along instead of being blindsided by an event like Sandy that is beyond my control. Happy to say that it did not take a natural disaster for me to realize that my husband was the right one for me

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