Factors that Reduce the Risk of Divorce

Virtually everyone has heard that the American divorce rate is about 50% for all first marriages (second marriages are about 60% and it gets higher after that). However, many do not realize that there are several personal and social factors that significantly decrease the risk of divorce.  In other words, not everyone is at risk to the same extent.  There are many choices people can make to reduce the risk of divorce in their own lives.

In many cases, some of these factors have already been determined. If the factors appear to be working against you it does not mean your marriage is doomed, however. You can certainly beat the odds with God’s help and personal commitment on the part of you and your spouse!

Knowledge of these factors is especially valuable, however, for those who have not yet married. It is also excellent information for parents to share with their children who may be contemplating marriage in the near future. Teenagers should be armed with the facts and determine at a young age to lead the kind of life that will increase the odds of success later as a married adult.

Here are some factors that give people the best chance of having an enduring, successful marriage…

(1) Abstain from sex before marriage. This is the most significant factor. Individuals who engage in premarital sexual activity are 50% more likely to divorce later in life than those who do not. On a related note, cohabitating couples who later marry also have a significantly higher risk of divorce compared to those who do not live together until after marriage. People who have a baby before marriage are also at a significantly higher risk (about 24%) of divorcing later. These numbers speak for themselves.

(2) Go to church. Practicing, committed Christians who hold conservative values divorce at rates about 35% lower than secular couples. Even couples who have any religious affiliation of any kind have a significantly decreased divorce risk (about 14% lower) than the general population. Higher degrees of participation in religious activities are associated with lower risks versus those who are casually affiliated.

(3) Earn a good living. Couples who have an annual income of over $50,000 are about 30% less likely to divorce than those who make under $25,000. Certainly money is not the most important thing in a marriage, but financial problems can have disastrous consequences. Poverty is a major risk factor. Work hard, be responsible, and plan wisely.

(4) Don’t marry too young. People who marry before age 18 are the most likely to divorce. Statistically, the best time to marry is after age 25 (about 24% reduced risk of divorce), but the risk is significantly reduced after age 21 versus those who marry at younger ages. Maturity is a key factor. No one thinks their own marriage will fail. Waiting may save a lot of pain and problems.

(5) Learn from your family of origin. Couples in which at least one person has parents who divorced are more likely to divorce (about a 14% higher risk factor) than those in which both spouses come from intact families of origin. While the decisions and actions of your parents are beyond your control, you can learn from their successes and failures. If your parents are happily married, figure out why and emulate those qualities. If not, figure out why and don’t repeat their mistakes.

(6) Go to college. College-educated couples are significantly more likely to remain married (about 13% reduced risk of divorce). High school dropouts are at the greatest risk of divorce. Not only do those with higher levels of education remain married at higher rates, but they also report significantly higher rates of marital happiness and satisfaction. In most cases, going to college also aids in offsetting other risk factors like low income and marrying too young.
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