With Gwyneth Paltrow and Chris Martin’s “consciously uncoupling” and various media outlets talking up the climbing statistics of divorce, we’d think everyone’s splitting up. But The New York Times finds divorce is actually at an all-time low. The publication says the institution of marriage is at its strongest after surviving ceiling-shattering 1970s and early 1980s divorce rates.
The New York Times reports that 70 percent of the marriages that began in the early ‘90s have reached their 15th anniversary (excluding couples in which a spouse died). If this trend continues, two-thirds of those marriages will never be taken to divorce court.
There are a few reasons why divorce has been on a decline: people are deciding to marry later on in life, more contraceptive use and the rise of marriages who are based on love and not finances among them. The NY Times links this to how gender roles have changed over the past century. William Doherty, a marriage therapist and professor of family social services at University of Minnesota, says two-thirds of divorce were initiated by women. The NY Times concludes:
“The people who married soon before the feminist movement were caught in the upheaval. They had married someone who was a good match for the postwar culture but the wrong partner after times changed. Modern marriage is more stable because people are again marrying people suitable to the world in which we live. The delay in marriage is part of the story, allowing people more time to understand what they want in a partner and to find one. The median age for marriage in 1890 was 26 for men and 22 for women. By the 1950s, it had dropped to 23 for men and 20 for women. In 2004, it climbed to 27 for men and 26 for women.”
Headline and Global News (HNGN) reports that divorces can also be influenced by age. If you have a five-year age gap, there’s an 18 percent chance of divorce compared to a three percent chance for couples who have a single year age difference. The percentages rise as age gaps widen between couples, with couples who are 20 years a part divorcing at a 90 percent rate.
It is also reported that despite the statistical research, it does not mean long-lasting marriages are healthy or happy. HNGN says many marriages stay intact because of financial, religious, ethnic or child-rearing reasons.