Divorce by the Numbers

Friday, October 1st, 2010

Note: Photos are from my neighborhood, where fall flowers are still blooming amidst the changing leaves.


I cut out an interesting article in the May 24, 2010 Time Magazine called “Divorcing by the Numbers.” The statistics are taken from a new book called For Better, by Tara Parker-Pope. She happens to be divorced, as a well as a reporter for the New York Times.

According to the article, Parker-Pope is debunking the notion that 50% of newlyweds are destined for divorce. She claims that since the 1970s, the beginning of a decade of delayed marriages for women who go to college, marital stability is on the rise. This writer states that about 23% of college grads who married in the 1970s divorced within 10 years, while only 16%  of those who wed in the 1990s were subsequently divorced.

Belinda Luscombe, who wrote the article, does put in information from Penn State Paul Amato, who says that those statistics  are more accurate for older people who have gone to college. The 50% stat still is reasonably accurate, because less-educated, lower-income couples do divorce in higher numbers because they have fewer resources to deal with divorce, especially where children are concerned.

The three stats that are in bold print on the article state that 81% of college grads who wed int he 1980s at age 26 plus were still married 20 years later, while only  65% of those college grads under the age of 26 who wed in the 1908s were still married 20 years later. Only 49% of high school grads under the age of 26 when they married in the 1980s celebrated their 20th anniversary.

For me, I know I was married too young at age 22. I was very immature, had not really lived on my own, and wasn’t really ready for marriage. But in the 1950s and early 1960s, if you were not wed by that age, you were considered an “Old Maid.” My husband finally admitted we were too young (he pushed for the marriage), but by then we were divorced, so the issue was moot.

Fast forward to contemplating marriage again, as I did. I was single 13 years before I took the plunge a second time. By then I was finally a grown-up and knew what I did and did not want.  If you are contemplating a second marriage, be aware that second marriages also have a high rate of failure, often because the marriage comes too soon after the divorce.  (My ex married six months after our divorce and got divorced three years later.)

Marriage is a serious undertaking and one that requires careful thought.  Passion aside, getting married a second time takes a lot of courage. I was very scared when I remarried, because I had been so hurt by my divorce I did not know if I could trust myself to be with someone who I could live with. I still find I have some issues, when a dejá vu moment comes with my relationship with Alan, that trigger memories of my first marriage.

Relationships are not simple for me, because they require commitment, compassion, and caring for the other person’s feelings. Having compromised so much in my first marriage, I have a hard time compromising at all! My marriage is a work in progress and each day I feel blessed to have found a really good guy and anxious that I might screw up!

The stats for divorce are daunting, and I hope that those of you out there contemplating divorce or remarriage get good advice for the next step in your journey and search your heart for your decisions. 



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