It is much to my chagrin that after doing quite of bit of research that I cannot find anything to give me reliable statistics on divorce rates. The best data I can find suggests that 50% of all marriages end in divorce which is rule of thumb I have heard for years. Why no data? It turns out the data is pretty difficult to come by. Different cities and counties report different information to their state offices IF they report any inforamation to their state office at all according to research by The Lewin Group. I could find no information indicating municipalities broke down their reporting as to whether it was a first marriage, second marriage, etc..
The Barna Group (a research organization that examines how faith and culture interact) does have some interesting information. It is based not on state reporting, but upon surveys. In their surveys the do differintiate quite a bit between different “types” of Christians. For instance they have seperate categories for “Evangelical” Christians, “Non-Evangelical Born Again Christians,” and “Notional” Christians (which we can assume are the worst kind). In at least one study they show that the “Evangelical” group has the lowest divorce rate of the three broad groups. They also have breakdowns by some income classes, ethnicity, Protestant vs Catholic, and even political ideology. Looking at their data if you really want to keep your marriage together it would pay to have the following characteristics; politically conservative, Asian, high income, Catholic, and be evangelical. I’m not sure that is useful for me.
The National Healthy Marriage Resource center seems to have a pleathora of information, but not necessarily related to divorce statistics. I think that is probably fine. Does it matter what the divorce rate really is? It’s too high…we know that. What do we do about it? That’s what these folks are trying to find out. I thought it was really interesting while examining their site they have quite a few “top ten lists.” Thank you, David Letterman, for popularizing a simple tool that helps boil information down into manageable amounts.
The number one thing on the list was not finances (sorry Dave Ramsey). Nor was it communication skills, but at least communication skills made the list. No, the first thing on the list was unrealistic expectations about marriage. Wow! I was actually happy to see that. When I conduct marriage seminars one of the overarching points I try to drive home is that marriage is not what we see on TV or in the movies. Marriage issues generally cannot be resolved in a thirty minutes time interval like they can in a sitcom. Marriage is actually difficult. It is work. It is hard. It has it’s moments and it can be rewarding to both husband, wife, and children (if there are any). So when you are looking at your marriage and you are a bit more than discouraged ask yourself a couple of questions. “What am I comparing my marriage to?” As well as; “Is this something that other couples don’t deal with or do they just not talk about it?” I think more often than not you will find that you may be at a bump in the road (it could be a big bump) instead of at a brick wall.