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Lowering Your Risk of Divorce

By Dr. Jeff Mirus (bio - articles - email) | Jan 18, 2011

According to statistics developed by the National Marriage Project, and highlighted very creatively using infographics on the Fast Company design web site, there are six major factors which reduce a couple’s chance of divorce:

  1. Improve your earning power: Earn more than $50,000 per year, and reduce your chance of divorce by 30%.
  2. Get a college degree: This will reduce your risk by 25%.
  3. Have your kids after marrying: Couples who have no children until at least seven months into their marriage have a 24% lower risk of divorce
  4. Wait until you’re older: If you wait until you are over age 25, you’ll see a similar 24% reduction in risk.
  5. Encourage your parents to stay together: If they do, your own chances are 14% better.
  6. Go to church: Couples with a religious affiliation decrease their chances of divorce by 14% too.

All of these factors make sense. Relatively mature religious couples who come from stable families, earn enough to minimize financial pressures, and have the intelligence and self-discipline to both finish college and bear children responsibly are far more likely to have successful marriages. On the other hand, of course, those who exhibit maturity, intelligence and self-discipline in other ways are probably just as likely to endure, though perhaps more difficult to track statistically. And those who combine human maturity with a deep commitment to the spiritual values at the heart of family life, including a persistent openness to grace, are almost sure to succeed, barring unpredictable disorders.

Remember, though, that statistics are potentially very deceiving. First, statistics are based on a study of the past, and the operative pressures and indicators may change somewhat in the future. One is already surprised, for example, that a college education in today’s academic environments does not exercise a negative impact on marital longevity. Second and more important, statistics are not predictive for individual cases. The fact that 90% of people in your health category live until age 92 tells you absolutely nothing about how long you yourself will actually live.

Uncle Jeff says: Work on it, and work hard. Don’t put yourself in a profile and then take your marriage for granted.

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Show 4 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: jackist7902 - Jan. 18, 2011 8:36 PM ET USA

    The article refers to having a baby more than seven months into the marriage, not having a "pregnancy" more than seven months into the marriage. Presumably, the seven month time period addresses those who marry solely because of a pregnancy.

  • Posted by: Jeff Mirus - Jan. 18, 2011 7:19 PM ET USA

    Kman is absolutely correct. I was having a bit of fun with my presentation, as I hope my final paragraphs made clear. Apparently Dermoto1 had no interest in these correlations, but it is useful, I think, to reflect on the suggestion that maturity, financial stability, responsibility and religious commitment are good for marriage -- things that would have been taken for granted when the very young Mary was betrothed to a significantly older and well-established Joseph.

  • Posted by: Wolf of Gubbio - Jan. 18, 2011 6:34 PM ET USA

    This is baloney. What has any of this got to do with living a holy lifestyle? Were Joseph and Mary to be compared with these criteria, they wouldn't fare so well. Entertaining surveys like this on CatholicCulture is foolish. One other thing--how does a Catholic couple avoid pregnancy for 7 months without committing a mortal sin?

  • Posted by: kman - Jan. 18, 2011 4:45 PM ET USA

    Be careful, you are confusing correlation with causation. For example: There is no proof that getting a degree will drop your risk of divorce. There is proof that those who have degrees divorce less. These concepts are not the same.

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