As we were getting married, I looked around at all the other couples who were recently engaged. I remember thinking that if one of every two marriages end in divorce, who will fall? Out of the four sibling marriages within our two families, two would not make it, right? Everybody knows the statistic – 50% of all marriages end in divorce in the US. But what if that information was wrong?
I started the new year reading a book, The Good News About Marriage by Shaunti Feldhahn. If you are passionate about strong marriages, I encourage you to read this hope-filled book. Feldhahn is a respected researcher and speaker, as well as a writer of many books about marriage and family. Her book contains a lot of data and cites marriage studies performed by multiple sources, and it de-bunks several big theories that our culture has held for decades.
For instance, the divorce rate in the US has never gotten close to 50%. It’s actually more like 20-25%. And for couples who regularly attend church together and pray together? Half that number. Why the confusion? In the late 1970’s the concept of the no-fault divorce was introduced in our country. Before that, people had to plead with a judge to allow them to divorce. Experts predicted that the new system would cause half of all marriages to dissolve, but it never happened.
What percentage of second marriages do you think end in divorce? The average answer to that question is 75%. The truth is closer to 35%, probably even less, and Feldhahn gives good information for why the numbers are so difficult to calculate.
When you are talking with someone who is struggling with their marriage, right in the thick of it, you can see the fear in their eyes. Fear that it may never improve. According to this book, if both husband and wife make a concerted effort to improve their marriage, data shows that the majority are significantly happier in five years, and not just surviving. Working at it works.
And finally, Feldhahn details how small changes can make a big difference in the health of a marriage; stating that 99% of married people claim to care about their spouse and want what is best for them. However, in 82% of struggling couples, one partner is unaware of the other’s unhappiness, or clueless as to how to make a change. When both parties understand how to communicate with their spouses and the power of their choices, healing can occur.
What does this mean?
There is hope. Always.
No, everyone is not hitting the escape button. And you don’t have to, either.
Second marriages are not doomed to failure.
Small changes in your marriage can reap big rewards. Find a couple a little ahead of you and spend time with them, ask them to mentor you. Insist on continuing to learn how to love your spouse best. Another book by the same author that give practical insight in how to make changes for big results: The Surprising Secrets of Highly Happy Marriages.
I am happy to report that all four of our sibling marriages are still intact 20+ years later. I should have known the statistics weren’t true, but it is so easy to quote what you hear over and over. Let’s work hard to learn the truth about marriage and even harder to build it in our own homes. It is worth it.