Divorce statistics are amazing. If you look hard enough you can find statistics that supposedly show that you are more likely to divorce if you have girls rather than boys, if only you, but not your spouse, smokes, or if either you or your spouse gains 20% more than your body weight after marriage. With all due respect to the social scientists and statisticians who have devoted their lives to generating this kind of “data,” in my humble opinion, it is often hard to tell divorce facts from fiction.
What You Can Learn From Divorce Statistics
As someone who has worked as a divorce professional for decades, I learned a long time ago not to take divorce statistics too seriously.
While researchers undoubtedly mean well, human relationships are so complicated that trying to predict what will lead to divorce is like trying to predict what the weather will be like in Chicago six weeks (or sometimes even six hours!) in advance.
Yet, in the interest of supporting “scientific research,” as well as having a little fun, here is my slightly irreverent analysis of the divorce facts that the studies claim to reveal, and the lessons you can “learn” from them.
1. It is Better to Get Married Than Live Together. Couples who live together without marrying are less likely to stay together than couples who marry. The probability of a first marriage ending in separation or divorce within 5 years is 20%, but the probably of a cohabitation relationship breaking up within 5 years is 49%.
2. You Are More Likely to Get Divorced Than Hit by a Car. There are approximately 100 divorces every hour in the U.S. Your chances of getting hit by a car are way less than that ( … which is probably a good thing!)
3. If You Want to Be President, Stay Married. The only U.S. President to have been elected to office after being divorced was Ronald Reagan. (Does that mean that Donald Trump doesn’t have a chance?)
4. Your Divorce Will Never Be This Expensive. The most expensive divorce in history is reportedly the divorce of the Russian billionaire Dmitry Rybolevlev, from his ex-wife, Elena. Their six year legal battle ended in an undisclosed settlement, after a $4.5 billion divorce judgment awarded to Ms. Rybolevlev by a Swiss court was overturned. (There’s no word on how much either one of the Rybolevlevs spent on attorney’s fees either!)
5. If You Don’t Want to Divorce, Get Married on the Cheap! You are 3.5 times more likely to divorce if you spend more than $20,000 on your wedding than you are if you spend between $5,000 – $10,000.
6. Sorry, But the United States is NOT Number One! According to the United Nations, the country with the highest divorce rate is Maldives, with 10.97 divorces per 1,000 people per year. That is followed by Belarus, with 4.63 divorces per 1,000 people per year. The United States comes in third, with 4.34 divorces per 1,000 people per year.
7. Facebook is Bad for Your Marriage. According to a survey done by Divorce Online, a British legal service, Facebook was mentioned in 1/3 of all divorce fillings in 2011.
8. Beware of the Seven Year Itch! The average length of a first marriage that ends in divorce in the United States is just under 8 years.
9. Being a Celebrity Doesn’t Make You a Good Person. Phil Collins delivered the news to his second wife that he wanted a divorce via fax. Russell Brand told Katy Perry he wanted a divorce via text. Millionaire art collector Charles Saatchi bested both men. He didn’t tell his wife, celebrity chef Nigella Lawson, that he wanted a divorce at all – he just announced it in a press release!
10. Karma Happens. 75% of people who marry their affair partners after divorcing their spouse end up divorcing their affair partner too.
11. Even a Nobel Prize Won’t Help You Stay Married. Einstein’s Nobel prize money went to his ex-wife as a divorce settlement.
12. For a Good Marriage, Work From Home. A Swedish researcher found that couples who spend more than 45 minutes commuting to work are 40% more likely to divorce.
13. It’s Better to Be A Runaway Bride Than a Bride With Cold Feet. Research shows that a bride with cold feet nearly doubles the chance of divorce.
14. 32 is the Charm! It’s no secret that marrying young can cause divorce. But, if you haven’t married by age 32, your risk of divorce actually starts increasing.
15. The Hottest Divorce Trend is Not What You Think! Americans over 50 are now twice as likely to get divorced as 50 year olds were 20 years ago. 25% of divorcing Americans are now over 50.
16. Losing Weight Can Be Great for Your Health, But Bad for Your Marriage. The divorce rate for people who were overweight or obese when they got married, and later had bariatric surgery and lost a lot of weight is between 80 – 85%.
17. If You Want to Stay Married, Get a Degree. College graduates tend to get married slightly later and are 10 – 20% less likely to divorce.
18. Your Job Matters More Than You Think. According to a recent study, divorce rates are the highest for dancers (43.055), bartenders (38.43%), massage therapists (38.22%), gaming cage workers (34.66%), extruding machine operators (32.77%), gaming services operators (31.34%) and factory workers (29.78%). Divorce rates are lowest for media and communication equipment workers (0%), agricultural engineers (1.78%), optometrists (4.01%), transit and railroad police (5.26%), and clergy (5.61%).
19. To Avoid Divorce, Smile! People who frown in photos are 5 times more likely to divorce than people who smile.
20. You Might as Well Be Nice to your Ex From the Start. Canadian research has shown that, within two years of a separation, the majority of parents establish polite (although not necessarily warm and fuzzy) communication with their ex. By that time, their children have usually adapted to their new living arrangement.
21. Marriage May Not be Forever, But Neither is Divorce. Approximately 6% of Americans marry, divorce, then remarry each other!
The Real Divorce Facts
When you are facing divorce, especially a divorce you didn’t see coming, it’s tempting to try to scour the internet to look for information that will help you figure out what happened.
You may think that maybe statistics will show that you were doomed from the start. Maybe you live in the wrong place, or you hang out with the wrong friends, or you did something (like gain weight) that you didn’t know would doom your marriage.
You are looking for answers, and for some comfort. You want to know that you are not alone. (You’re not!) You want to know that you are not a failure. (You’re not!)
What you need to remember is that divorce happens. It happens to a lot of good people all over the world. It happens to people who never thought it would happen to them.
If it’s happening to you, all you can do is deal with it. Just know one thing: you are much, much more than a divorce statistic.
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