Saturday, February 20th, 2010
I have people tell me that “1 out of every 2 couples divorce.” The tabloids say it often so you think it must be so. But it is not my experience — and I am a marital therapist who sees people who might have lots of reason to divorce (and, of course, some do).
My bet is that over 80% of couples who seek marital therapy revive and even thrive.
Statistics Canada (2005) tell us that by the 30th wedding anniversary 38% of couple divorce. About 16% of the divorces include people who had already been divorced at least once. The probability of divorcing for a first marriage is lower because remarriages have a higher divorce risk than first ones.
Concerned couples starting out in marriage are sometimes worried about the reported divorce numbers and it surely does not help that we are inundated with “media divorces” who break up on a seeming whim, perhaps to obtain more glitz and blitz.
The Vanier Institute reports that the divorce rate for first marriages is about 30% throughout 30 years of marriage. In other words, first marriages have a 70% chance of surviving and even thriving for 30 years!
I have seen in my practice several variables that affect marriage stability. Let me give you a few:
+ How well the couple was brought together. Was a decision really made or was the couple in a romance trance where they felt they could not interrupt the process?
+ Will the couple participate in premarital counselling or mentoring? My experience is that this process allows couples to differentiate, that is, to thoughtfully and even prayerfully decide if marrying this person and at this time is what they wish to do.
+ Location of where the couple lives has an impact. Urban and suburban life can have a negative impact on the survivability of the marriage. However, this is ameliorated by participating in an intentional community (e.g. a church).
+ The willingness to obtain early marriage counselling when conflicts become wearing and unsolvable.
+ Another key factor has to do with the couple redefining the relationship with their respective families of origin. For the parents this involves a kind of relinquishment and for the marrying couple it requires a new definition of themselves with their parents.
Get the word out — marriage still works and the numbers are getting better! And your marriage can work well even if you come from a divorced family or had a previous marriage.