“No way!” you must be thinking. Every town’s gossip is full of stories of people getting divorced left and right. And I have heard on multiple occasions that “over 50% of people who get married get divorced!” I mean I can still hear my grandmother in my head, “these kids nowadays just don’t know how to commit and make things work.” But is this true?
Well the facts may lead you to question this rampant rumor that seems to be putting a lot of people on edge with regard to the concept of marriage. In the United States, the divorce rate peaked in 1979 but has declined since. From 1860 to 1950, divorce rates increased rather steadily. This trend reversed temporarily during the 1950s. But then from about 1960 to 1979, the divorce rate rose sharply. This sharp rise in the divorce rate has been attributed, at least in part, to the changing role of women from the home to the workforce, the sexual revolution during the 60’s and 70’s, and the rise of no fault divorces being granted in a number of states. But since 1979, the national divorce rate has decreased from approximately 5 per 1,000 people to 3.6 per 1,000 people in 2010. In North Carolina, the divorce rate in 1990 was 5.1 per 1,000 people which reduced to 3.8 per 1,000 people in 2010. This decrease in divorce rate is accompanied by a declining percentage of Americans who are currently married. In 1960, 72% of American adults were married. By 2008, that share had fallen to 52%. The decline of marriages can be attributable to a number of factors including the rise of a female workforce and rise of the median age of marriage. The national median age of marriage is about 28 for men and 26 for women. In North Carolina, the median age is about 27 for men and 26 for women. In general, if an individual marries prior to the age of 24, he or she is twice as likely to get divorced.
Another recent phenomenon is that 2007 marked the first time that college-educated young adults were more likely than those without a college degree to have married by the age of 30. The push for greater education, a greater role of women in the workforce, and societal changes has actually led to a decrease in divorce over the past quarter century. So the next time you question whether marriage will lead to divorce, you may want to look at the multitude of other factors that surround your relationship. But in the end, the ultimate question that should be asked is: “Are YOU ready for the serious commitment of marriage?”