February 27, 2013
We’ve all heard the stat that 50% of marriages end in divorce. It’s a horrible number, so much heartache in that one statistic. But researchers are now saying that there’s more reason to hope. Walking down the aisle doesn’t have to feel like flipping a coin.
Jennifer Baker, the researcher who is credited, erroneously she claims, with coming up with the 50% stat says that it is almost impossible to gather an accurate stat for the state of all marriages. “It’s a very murky statistic,” she says. Rather it is only possible to compare groups within society over time.
If you look a little closer, there is good news.
Tara Parker-Pope, a New York Times reporter and author of For Better noted in her research that:
Since the 1970s, when more women started going to college and delaying marriage, “marital stability appears to be improving each decade,” she writes. For example, about 23% of college graduates who married in the ’70s split within 10 years. For those who wed in the ’90s, the rate dropped to 16%.
All this is good news, but at the end of the day stats will not save your marriage. And it’s not because, as Blaise Pascal noted, “Love has its reasons that Reason knows not.” A marriage doesn’t succeed or fail because it should. There are plenty of people in what seem like perfect families until they fall apart, and others who face great tragedy and stay together. So what makes the difference?
Always a good enough reason
I went to a liberal arts school which required everyone to take a sociology course. I took a course on marriage and the family, and it has turned out to be one of the best learning experiences of my life. There are several things our Prof said that stay with me all these years later, but perhaps the most important was this:
“If divorce is an option in your marriage, you will always find a reason to do it.” ~ Dr. Mike Richardson
He told that there are times in every marriage where you would be completely justified in walking away. He reminded us that there are going to be times when divorce is the logical choice, maybe even times when you really would be better off on your own. The work of marriage is not in simply saying “I love you. I choose you.” It’s in saying “I still love you. I choose you when it’s hard, I choose you when I’m angry. I choose you when you’ve hurt me and I trust that you will choose me when I hurt you too.”
The key to avoiding divorce is not getting into a marriage that works, it’s getting to work in your marriage. Know your partner, continue to learn about them as you love them. Let them get to know you too, let them in. That is the true intimacy of marriage.
There are times when in spite of our very best efforts marriages fail. There are times when insurmountable things happen and times when someone walks away. The harsh truth is that you can’t be married to someone who doesn’t want to be married to you. If that is your situation, my heart breaks for you and I hope that you are able to get the care you need. For everyone else, if you’re facing a bump in the road, don’t let it become the cliff you jump off of. Find a counselor, talk to each other, consider going on a Family Life Weekend to Remember, do the work to make it work and no statistic in the world will be able to touch you.
As Senior Editor for TruthMedia Internet Group, Claire Colvin gets to play with words all day which makes her very happy. She is a voracious reader, an aspiring New York Times crossword puzzle solver, and given her preference would rather be at the beach (doing either).