I sure hope I’m the only one who has been hearing this too much lately. Yes, I know January and February are the big months for divorce filings, but it still grieves my heart. Just in case I’m not the only one hearing this, please check out the hard facts below.1 Maybe, lovingly applied, you may spare people the pain of what has been described as “the funeral that never ends.”2
Before they throw in the towel – do they know:
Remarriages have a higher failure rate than first marriages. We think if we just change partners, our problems will be solved. Not so. And if there are children involved, you’ll turn some perfectly nice person into a stepmother or stepfather. In remarriages with children – stepfamilies – the divorce rate is even higher.
Our research estimates that 55-60% of marriages that end in divorce fall into the category of “good enough marriages”. These marriages appear to be functioning well only a year or so prior to the divorce. From a child’s perspective, these divorce are unexpected, inexplicable, and unwelcome and are thus most likely to harm children. These marriages are significantly more likely to divorce because of infidelity, which they blame on “drifting apart” or “communication problems”. These 50-60% of divorces are unlikely to mention abuse because these were not highly conflicted marriages. – Paul Amato, Smart Marriages keynote Couples can take a simple Marriage Education class and learn the skills to communicate and fall back in love.
Divorce causes a decrease in wealth that is larger than just splitting a couple’s assets in half. Divorce drops a person’s wealth by an average of 77%. And, contrary to popular belief, the research shows that the wealth status of divorced men wasn’t significantly better than that of divorced women, in terms of real money. Divorce devastates your wealth. By the same token, married people see an increase in wealth that is more than just adding the assets of two single people. If you really want to increase your wealth, get married and stay married. – Jay Zagorsky, Ohio State, Journal of Sociology, Jan 2006
Children-of-divorced-parents are at least 50 percent more likely to get a divorce than those from an unbroken home, said Penn State Professor Paul Amato, a researcher and expert on parent-child relationships. When both the husband and wife come from divorced families, the odds of divorce are 200 percent higher.
“If you want to stay married, marry someone just like you. Except if you’re from a divorced family, marry someone from an intact family,” said Nick Wolfinger, researcher. When either the husband or wife is a child-of-divorce, those marriages were almost twice as likely to fail as marriages where neither spouse came from a divorced family. Marriages between two spouses from divorced families were more than three times as likely to fail. Wolfinger finds children of divorce are more likely to cut and run. If you experience relationships as transitory while growing up, that’s what you’ll do as an adult. Most people remarry, so a couple of years after their parents divorce, a kid is going to pick up a stepparent. Second marriages have even higher rates of divorce than first marriages, so that kid may experience a second divorce. Having a stepparent makes a kid even more likely to divorce later in life – having a stepparent teaches that spouses are replaceable if things don’t work out.
Men, women and children all do better in intact FIRST marriages – and, that’s on all measures: health, wealth, satisfaction, and success. Work things out and you’ll all be better off – in the long run. As summarized by columnist Maggie Gallagher: “Even among advantaged, middle-class white children, divorce doubles the risk that 20 years later these adult children will experience serious social, emotional, and/or psychological dysfunction.”
Mavis Hetherington, a respected psychologist/stepfamily researcher, found that the adult-children-of-divorce had twice the divorce rate of kids from intact families, and that only 20 percent of the adults (the parents) who saw their marriages end felt their lives have been improved by the experience. – 1/28/07 Virginia Free-LanceStar
“The central hazard of divorce for the child is not his acute unhappiness, however tragic this may be, but the possibility that the family disruption will in some way discourage his progress along the developmental ladder.” Wallerstein and Kelly (1980) At the statistical level there is evidence to associate growing up in single-parent families and stepfamilies with greater risk to well-being – including a greater risk of dropping out of school, of leaving home early, or poorer health, of low skills, and of low pay. (p. 23) Child Poverty in Perspective
Marriages, like everything else, go through slumps – down times. But, with time, things often get better on their own. In The Case for Marriage Waite and Gallagher point out that many who report that their marriages were at the bottom of the scale on marital satisfaction, when asked five years later, reported being at the top on marital happiness. What changed? Many had no idea – often couldn’t even remember that they’d felt things were bottomed out. It seems that simply keeping our vows – hanging in through the “for worse”, even the “for boring” or when we feel all out of love can, eventually, be what gets us to the promised land. Get married, stay married – what a concept. In their follow-up research, Does Divorce Make People Happy? Waite and Gallagher flesh out these findings. As people go through unhappy periods in their marriage they fantasize about getting out of the marriage and finding happiness by falling in love with someone new. It turns out that the surer route to happiness – in the long run – is to fall back in love with the person with whom you have children, extended families, and a history – someone who will enjoy the grandkids with you and has been there to know what you’ve done for others.
The new relationship is only going to be *new* for a few short years, then you’ll be back to trying to figure out how to make a marriage work. Except this time you’ll have to do it with the added baggage of exes, jealousy, step kids, child support, visitation. And, don’t kid yourself that single life doesn’t get old, lonely, and boring. You CAN get past boredom & disappointment, also affairs, substance abuse, porn addiction, emotional and physical abuse, betrayals, and come out better and stronger than before.
Marriage Education classes are not just for the engaged or newlyweds. They work for
couples on the brink of divorce – hopeless couples in the deep end of the ocean who feel they’ve fallen out of love – who have drifted apart. The courses also work for cohabiting couples. These are relationship skills.
You CAN learn new ways to interact, to connect – and by so doing, can become “masters of marriage” – gain the confidence to marry or, if you’re already married and facing disappointment, to fall back in love. “New love is the brightest, and long love is the greatest, but revived love is the tenderest thing known on earth.” – Thomas Hardy
When it comes to the kids, it’s not just single unwed mothers whose kids struggle. “Most researchers reported that STEPCHILDREN were similar to children living with single mothers on the preponderance of outcome measures and that stepchildren were at greater risk for problems than were children living with both of their married parents.” – The Journal of Marriage and Family
“I’m not advocating for loveless marriages. But it’s also the case that marriage doesn’t make us happy every day. No marriage does, but your marriage serves as so much more than just a vehicle for immediate individual adult needs. It makes one world for your child, and children will tell you that means everything to them.” Elizabeth Marquardt, Between Two Worlds
1 Smart Marriages. http://www.smartmarriages.com/before.breakup.html
2Generation Ex. Pg. 38