View Full Version : If 50% of marriages end in divorce, how many started with the "forever" intention?

Mar. 31, 2013, 05:22 PM
I ask because this changes the meaning of that deplorable statistic.

If everyone meant "till death do us part" and half or more of the people failed at that it sounds bad.

But if only 60% of the people to get married meant "forever" and then bailed, that's not so bad or surprising.

So which is it? And how do you know?

Mar. 31, 2013, 05:27 PM
I hope that most meant forever when they mumbled the vows...
But I guess some relationship can make a short time seem like forever...

Mar. 31, 2013, 05:30 PM
I generally don't start long term boyfriend relationships where I didn't mean "forever" at the beginning - I'm averaging about 4 years each - I broke up with 2 of them, and the current one is currently "uncertain".

I think people go in with the best intentions, but we live in a disposeable culture where it is OK to quit when the going gets tough - and so we do.

Mar. 31, 2013, 05:34 PM
My BF and I are going on 3 years with no intention of getting married for at least another 2-4 years. We want it to mean forever when we say those vows. This will be his 2nd marriage and my first. I want to do it right. I want it to be my only.

Mar. 31, 2013, 05:37 PM
Do you guys think that some people have a clear enough picture of marriage and themselves and divorce that they *don't* intend it to be "forever" and even think that makes no sense?

I'm really not trying to bash a traditional understanding of marriage or defend it.

I just want to know how we got to the divorce rate we did. It seems reasonable to me to think that the way marriages *start* is not what we expected.

Kelly in NJ
Mar. 31, 2013, 05:56 PM
The stats are a little bit deceptive; 50% of all marriages end in divorce, but remember, many people are married and divorced multiple times, so they are counted two, three, five times whereas those who do get married once and stay married are only counted once.

Mar. 31, 2013, 05:58 PM
First of all, that statistic has generally been debunked. The true divorce rate in the US is about 33%. This article has a decent explanation of why the 50% is wrong. There are a number of other studies that have tried to estimate the actual divorce rate:


However! Once this statistic got into the mainstream, it's justified all kinds of weird behavior, including the rather fatalistic idea that since 1/2 of all marriages end in divorce, why even try that hard? It's implanted itself in peoples' minds and has been hard to dislodge.

What's even more interesting is the divorce rate when the socioeconomic character of the marriage has been studied - the rate among college educated women, for example, is around 20%, compared to high school only women is above 50% (I think).

Just thought you'd like to know.....it's not all doom and gloom for marriage.

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:00 PM
I know that in the case of my BF, his first wife pressured him into marriage while he was in the Marines. He was 20 and young and just married her to appease her. It only lasted 5 years, 3 of those he was either overseas or working over the road.

Kelly in NJ
Mar. 31, 2013, 06:01 PM

some recent stats

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:04 PM
Just throwing this out there but maybe it has to do with women not staying in a relationship that is horrible and getting out instead of staying married to avoid the social scrutiny and stigma then associated with being a divorcee.

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:06 PM
I meant it unreservedly both times.

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:34 PM
I had no idea what I was getting into at age 23... didn't really "believe" in marriage, came from a "broken home," and was generally very cynical. But I was in love and liked the idea of being married to this one man in particular... it's been 26+ years, and we're still married, and aren't sick of each other yet... Still, at the time I got married, I couldn't have formulated the idea of "forever"....

THAT SAID, I think a lot of people get married for the sake of getting married -- or, worse yet, for the wedding. Which does not make for good odds, clearly...

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:34 PM
Not mine~ LOL

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:48 PM
I meant "till death do us part" and "for better or worse" etc.

However, when he turned emotionally and physically abusive to me and my son? See ya.

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:51 PM
My wedding is in six weeks (yikes!). Yes, I 100% believe that we will be together forever. If I didn't, we wouldn't be walking down the aisle.

We're lucky though - both of us come from intact families. I sometimes wonder how rare that might be...

Personally, my belief on marriage is that it is forever, except in the case of abuse or infidelity. Nothing short of those things should end a marriage.

But that's just me, and I probably have a rather idealistic view of the world.

Mar. 31, 2013, 06:53 PM
My wedding is in six weeks (yikes!). Yes, I 100% believe that we will be together forever. If I didn't, we wouldn't be walking down the aisle.

We're lucky though - both of us come from intact families. I sometimes wonder how rare that might be...

Personally, my belief on marriage is that it is forever, except in the case of abuse or infidelity. Nothing short of those things should end a marriage.

But that's just me, and I probably have a rather idealistic view of the world.

At least there are two of us!

Mar. 31, 2013, 07:02 PM
I meant "till death do us part" and "for better or worse" etc.

However, when he turned emotionally and physically abusive to me and my son? See ya.

Was it 100% out of the blue or in retrospect were there signs that he wasn't all that you thought he might be before you married?

Mar. 31, 2013, 07:03 PM
I guess the core piece is that while each person is 100% responsible for their piece in any relationship, in any relationship one of the two partners be responsible or accountable for only 50% of what happens. Trying to do less than 50% is irresponsible. Trying to do more than 50% is a fool's errand and impossible. All we can do that may extend beyond our own fifty percent is to be patient and supportive and make sure that if it ultimately fails, it isn't because we were less than open-heartedly loving, kind and willing. That last is as much for our own equanimity going down the road feeling bad, as for our erstwhile life partner.

Mar. 31, 2013, 07:08 PM
unless you choose to raise children (in which case you're tied to the guy for life, and have a duty to offer a stable home until they are grown), why is it "good" to have a "lifelong" marriage? I personally think quality is far preferable to quantity- if you have six high-quality relationships in your life, you're better off than someone who has one lengthy but low-quality relationship. I don't think it's in the human nature to actually "mate for life"- most relationships tend to fall apart at 2 or 7 years after inception. Forcing them to continue longer past their natural expiration date causes a lot of grief.

Mar. 31, 2013, 07:20 PM
Was it 100% out of the blue or in retrospect were there signs that he wasn't all that you thought he might be before you married?
Aside from his mother telling me to blow him off if he got pissy and a huge, SCREAMING fight over what constituted "half" of a box of left-over pasta (to this day, I cringe when someone says "half") about a month before the wedding, no, there were no real signs until after we married.

Then he started punching holes in the walls, kicking the pets, flipping furniture, throwing food and various other things (including sitting on my son and threatening to bash his head in with a hammer--didn't find out about that until last October). The physical stuff was NOT on a daily basis, but his words were.

I stayed far too long trying to work things out with a man who refused to admit he had an problem with anger management and violent reactions. We deserved it, don't ya know.

Mar. 31, 2013, 07:23 PM
I got married very young, at 22. My partner and I lived in different countries and it was the only way for us to live in the same place. We had not known each other for very long and I did not care about marriage at all, I just wanted to be able to have a relationship where we shared a flat and got a dog together. If things did not work out we could always divorce, but without marriage we would never know.

Now it is almost 11 years later and I still do not care about marriage aside from its legal benefits, but I care very, very deeply about my partner. I would jump in front of a train for him, cut my arm off for him, anything in the world. But if there came a point where we were no longer happy together in a fundamental way we would not stay together. We do not get a lot of time in this world and we should not waste it in relationships that do not fulfill us, whatever our intentions or fantasies were previously.

I absolutely agree with Wendy that quality should be the focus and there is no reason to hold lifelong monogamy up as an ideal. There is tremendous social pressure toward marriage and nuclear families, but I do not think that is right for everyone. There is a very, very big difference between romantic love and the kind of love you have for someone who stands with you when you bury your parents, when you lose your baby, when you go to hospice. Not everyone makes the transition from one to the other. And maybe we do not need all of those kinds of love from a single person. Maybe that is why people are often so disappointed - because they do not find that and they are not that themselves.

Mar. 31, 2013, 11:15 PM
I had planned on forever, but when I caught him first with cocaine and no real interest in getting help and then cooking crack in the garage I was OUT! Not an environment that I was going to stay in with my DD!
Maybe I was just dumb, but I did not see signs before we were married. We had lived together for 5 years before getting married so it wasn't like we rushed into things.

Apr. 1, 2013, 01:31 AM
I meant it as well.
Not sure if I missed signs or maybe thought they were ok at the time but people change - sometimes just not for the better.
It should have been a sign tho before the wedding I dreamed I was being hanged.
ROFL - it's funny in retrospect. Wish I would have paid more attention to my dreams back then!!

Reynard Ridge
Apr. 1, 2013, 02:31 AM
When I was 23, I was dating someone who proposed to me. All of my friends (and I do mean all) were getting married around me. But, I knew he wasn't someone I really wanted to grow old with. So, I said no.

All of my friends (and I do mean all) who got married i their 20s got divorced.

When was 37, I found the man I married. Did I go into it thinking forever? Of course. He's the person I want to grow old with.

Apr. 1, 2013, 06:11 AM
In being totally honest with myself, my first brief disaster of a marriage was just that. I think at the time both of us wanted to be married. He covered up a lot of things, like his drinking problem, and after we were married a lot of stuff came out. Ashamed to say I missed a lot of signs I shouldn't have.

Apr. 1, 2013, 09:22 AM
When I said my vows I meant it. I love my husband with all my heart. He's one of the best things that have ever happened to me (the other one was horses :)) Yes, there have been rough times, but there have been way more good times and still more good times to come. It's a give and take. Both individuals have to work together as one. If we have a problem we talk about it like two adults to get to the bottom of the issue and come out stronger. Those who cannot do that and respect their will partner fail.

Apr. 1, 2013, 10:12 AM

some recent stats

From your article:“Marriage has become a much more selective institution in today’s society,” said W. Bradford Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. “People who are college-educated, more affluent or more religious (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/11/AR2010081101961.html)are more likely to get married and stay married. People who are not are less likely to get married in the first place, and if they do marry, they’re more likely to divorce.”The Marriage Project has found that people without a college degree are three times as likely todivorce (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/03/21/AR2010032103139.html) in the first 10 years as those with a college degree.

“The odds of getting divorced are much lower for educated and affluent Americans, the escapades of Schwarzenegger and John Ensign notwithstanding,” Wilcox said, referring to the former governor of California and the former senator from Nevada.

From this article: http://apps.npr.org/unfit-for-work/
"But disability has also become a de facto welfare program for people without a lot of education or job skills. But it wasn't supposed to serve this purpose; it's not a retraining program designed to get people back onto their feet. Once people go onto disability, they almost never go back to work. Fewer than 1 percent of those who were on the federal program for disabled workers at the beginning of 2011 have returned to the workforce since then, one economist told me.
People who leave the workforce and go on disability qualify for Medicare, the government health care program that also covers the elderly. They also get disability payments from the government of about $13,000 a year. This isn't great. But if your alternative is a minimum wage job that will pay you at most $15,000 a year, and probably does not include health insurance, disability may be a better option."

I did not see a statistic in the second article to show how many divorced women and/or divorced women with dependent children were on disability. It would be an interesting statistic- maybe there is a relationship between the rise in disability and lower marriage rate. I know my own 48 year old divorced sister is actively trying to get on disability.

As for me, married at age 21 to the same guy for 32 years now. It works for me.

Apr. 1, 2013, 10:22 AM
I certainly meant my vows when I said them - the problem is that the person I married apparently didn't mean them...and just didn't care enough about anyone or anything else to even try. I walked away knowing that I tried and did everything I possibly could to save the marriage, he can't say the same as he tried nothing. I've looked back many, many times to see what signs I missed, what things did I gloss over, and I just don't see it. When we were dating (we were high school sweethearts and got married at 25, so it's not like we were dating for just a little while..and we were married for 8.5 years), and into the first year of marriage, things really were great. It still makes me sad to think of those times and then what it turned into. While I'm doing really well now, I do still have scars from the whole experience....it's left me with a feeling of being open to love again, but not sure I ever want to get married again.

Apr. 1, 2013, 11:00 AM
I think a lot of people mean it when they say their vows, but most people (myself included) don't completely understand what it really means to keep a marriage together and happy "forever."

A successful marriage takes WORK, and a commitment from BOTH people to continuously work towards each other. That's a lot of effort, and a choice you have to make over and over again as you go through life. There are so many things out there that can distract you and pull you away from your committed marriage--addictions of all kinds, substance and behavior, work, stress, emotional issues, the desire to have something different, excitement, and on and on.

I think a lot of marriages end up in trouble because of two things at the end of it all: 1) partners grow in different directions and/or at different rates and don't recognize this until it's already done and 2) because of 1) or something I listed above, one member of the partenership stops putting in the effort to repair the damage and/or move forward together.

When one person isn't committed to working towards a future together, the other person can only hang on for so long. When neither person is committed to that work, things end pretty quickly. The emotional love that we get married on eventually settles into comfortable daily love, which isn't all highs and lows, but more of a constant that has to be maintained...

Not trying to sound like a downer, I'm very happily married to a great guy for going on 8 years (started dating 15 years ago) and I have every confidence that we will make it to forever, but it's because of that commitment to WORK that I talked about...

Apr. 1, 2013, 12:31 PM
There are a lot of people in my age group and social circle who are under thirty and already divorced once. Some are already into their second marriages.

Personally, I think this is a really sad scenario and likely why I'm not yet married. I'd rather be single and happy than living with a past filled with regrets and bad decisions.

My grandmother always told us that if we do marry, plan on giving sixty percent of the time and only expecting 40 percent in return. If both partners did this, no one would be left wanting. I think she was a pretty smart lady.