We’ve all heard the statistic floating around our culture that 50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. In our microwave culture, we shouldn’t be surprised that when we see this headline or hear it on television, we take it as the absolute truth and then move on. After a while of hearing this statistic thrown out at us, we start to internalize the fact that it supposes to provide us with: don’t bother getting married- likely, you all won’t make it. With that, we shrug our shoulders and move on with our lives.
Today I would like to examine that statistic which we hear quoted in so many places by so many people that nobody even knows the source anymore. It seems like the sort of question that a family law office ought to know a thing or two about, after all. If we spend so much of our time helping families get divorces, it will behoove us to understand how many marriages in our community are likely to end up on the rocks, headed for divorce. With that said, thank you for joining us on the blog for the Law Office of Bryan Fagan.
Are you and your spouse both committed to going the long run with one another?
This is the question that I think we need to approach first and foremost. Through sickness and in health, until death do part. That is the idealist language used by many wedding officiants. The thing is, for generations (really, for many, many, many generations), these were not idealized words that had no practical application in our modern society. Divorce rates were nowhere near as high as they are now, even a generation or two ago. True, the millennial generation has seen a lower marriage rate but also a lower divorce rate. Overall, the “atmosphere” is riper for divorce now than in prior generations, I think.
I think that commitment, or the unwillingness to be committed to a person, leads to higher divorce rates. If people work harder at staying together, it would be more likely that marriages would last. Instead, people tend to focus more on their hobbies; their work people are more apt to focus on themselves than their families now more than ever. What comes with that is a greater willingness to divorce away a problem in the relationship rather than work on it with your spouse.
If you get divorced once, you are more likely to get divorced a second time.
Law students must pass an exam known as the Texas Bar Exam before practicing law. We graduate from law school and then spend the following summer studying like crazy to help ensure that we pass this exam. Our law degree is a nice thing to have, don’t get me wrong. However, a law degree alone will not allow us to represent clients in a courtroom or mediation office.
So, we sit for this three-day exam with all the pressure in the world on our shoulders. It’s not going to war or running into a burning building, but it’s about a nerve-wracking experience that someone who intends to be a lawyer will experience. Everyone who takes the exam has to wait about three months to find out whether they passed. It’s a long time to wait to find out whether or not the work you put in for almost three years was worth it or not.
The statistics show that if a law student fails the Bar Exam once, they are more likely to forget it a second time. There are probably many reasons why this is true, but I’m not going to give you my theories on why people struggle to pass the Bar Exam on their second and third go-arounds. This fact relates to another fact regarding divorce: if you get divorced once, you are more likely to get divorced twice. If you get divorced twice, you are more likely to get divorced three times. You can pull up the statistics online just as well as I can, and you will see that almost two-thirds of second marriages will end the same way as the first marriage- in divorce.
For one, it is easier to get divorced in our country today than it ever has been. Starting in the 1960s in California, laws were passed that allowed people to get divorced for any reason at all. These are generally referred to as “no-fault” divorces. In a no-fault divorce petition, you say that there is no specific cause for your filing for divorce. Instead, there is a more or less direct conflict in personalities and no chance at a reconciliation. Say those magic words in a divorce petition, and you, too, can get divorced in Texas. Whether or not your spouse wants the divorce, you can get divorced.
How can you determine if you are more at risk for divorce?
Of course, there are underlying factors that impact your specific chances of getting divorced. We live in a diverse nation and are residents of perhaps its most varied state. What is true for you is probably not true for your neighbor and almost certainly is not valid for the lady living across town for you. We can throw around statistics all we want, but the truth is that we need to examine what factors more generally lead to divorce than others.
Now, when we go over these factors, I want you to understand that I am not saying that you should not get married if you are one of these “things.” Additionally, I am also not saying that your marriage is doomed if you fall into one of these categories. If anything, if you fall into one (or more) of these categories, you need to be aware that you are at greater risk of suffering this fate.
The first factor that I will mention to you is being young when you married. Marriage is tough. It will cause you to stress in areas of your life that you did not even think were possible. Your finances, children, domestic issues, goal planning, etc. These are areas of your life that suddenly become shared when you get married. If you are not prepared for the hardships of working on these areas with your spouse, you are at risk of divorce. It just so happens that young people are not as equipped to deal with these problems, for the most part, compared to their older counterparts.
Second, your educational background has a lot to do with your chances of getting a divorce. There is a point at which your education begins not to make much of a difference. Still, the statistics show that even if you have a few college-level courses in your background, as opposed to just having a high school degree, you are more likely to remain married. Lower levels of education generally mean a lower income potential. Lower-income can directly lead to money problems. Money problems are a leading cause of divorce in the United States.
Third, the income issue that we discussed just a moment ago can rear its ugly head in the middle of marriage and sink the relationship. When money gets tight, people tend to go at one another. Life can get even more difficult if you don’t earn an excellent salary and are not on a budget. As a result, you can run into marital problems that are tough to solve if you do not have a stable, decent income.
Fourth, something that I have repeatedly read about leading to divorce with great frequency is full-time habitation with your future spouse before you are married. The modern thought is that by living with your partner before marrying them, you are more or less taking the relationship for a marriage test drive before popping the question. On some level, it makes sense. We do, after all, take cars for test drives before purchasing them.
However, I did some detailed research and discovered that marriages and cars are not the same things. This may surprise you, but it is true. There is nothing special about the marriage ceremony and the living condition that you experience afterward by living together before marriage. It is more or less the same thing that you have been doing for years before you marry. As a result, when nothing is telling you that the relationship is more permanent, you are less likely to bat an eye at ending the relationship. After all, if you have been living together for years, a divorce is not too different than breaking up with a significant other.
You have a child before getting married places a lot of pressure on you and your spouse. This is one of those lessons that absolutely should not surprise you. Your grandmother could have told you to wait until after you are married to have children. Having kids puts a tremendous amount of pressure on a relationship. Sometimes stress can be a good thing (placing a rock under pressure makes diamonds!), but it can just as easily crush whatever is being pressurized. Having a child in the early years of your marriage can be tricky. Having a child in the early years of your marriage when the wedding is already struggling is even more complicated.
Infidelity and addiction
What would you do if your spouse had an extramarital affair? Would you ever consider taking them back? Would you be able to trust them again? This is a question that people need to ask themselves who are married. Going to counseling is an option, but only if both spouses attend. Sometimes you may feel like the counseling Is not going to do the trick and are unwilling to participate. At that point, your marriage is close to being over with.
It should come as no surprise that our culture’s problem with addiction has also led to impacts in the world of divorce. It seems like we attorneys see spouses alleging problems in the marriage associated with addiction more now than in prior years. Pain killers, illegal drugs, alcohol, pornography, etc., all are addictive substances that can harm a marriage irreparably. If you are dealing with an addiction, you need to be able to receive treatment. I am not in a position to tell you how to get treatment or from where. Be aware that a problem can best be classified as an addiction when that problem begins to impact your work and your relationships.
Closing thoughts on how many marriages end in divorce
The trouble with trying to answer how many marriages end in divorce is that it would be unfair to say that your marriage is as likely to end in divorce as it is to go the distance. We don’t live in a homogenous society where you, your neighbor, and your neighbor’s neighbor have the same or similar backgrounds, beliefs, etc. We are different. We are diverse. You need to understand that the factors that impact your marriage may not be the same as impact your neighbor’s. This can be a good thing, or it can be a bad thing. What you make of it and how you respond is up to you and your spouse.
Questions about divorce in Texas? Contact the Law Office of Bryan Fagan
If you have any questions about divorce in Texas, please consider contacting the Law Office of Bryan Fagan. Our licensed family law attorneys offer free-of-charge consultations six days a week. These consultations are an excellent opportunity to ask questions and receive direct feedback about your particular issues and circumstances from an experienced family law attorney.