This past month I celebrated my 23rd wedding anniversary. I’ve been with my husband 24 years. We have a 17-year-old daughter, an 11-year-old daughter, and a golden retriever. The years haven’t always been easy, but if someone were to ask me if marriage was difficult or not, I would have to say “no, not really.” I like being married. I plan on staying married forever. I assume my husband feels the same way.
Because my husband and I are in our 50s and 40s, respectively, we’ve seen most of our family and friends get married. We have access to knowing what the marital status is of many of our acquaintances thanks to social media. One thing that I have noticed in the past 6-10 years, however, is the high number of divorces that have occurred within our circle.
I conducted some nonscientific “research” among 26 couples who I know. The results were surprising.
Of the 26 only 6 couples remain married.
I mean no one knows what goes on behind closed doors, and it is none of my business really, but for all intents and purposes, most of these separations don’t appear to be the product of infidelity, abuse, or addiction. Based on talking to some friends, a lot of these divorces were simply the result of just “growing apart.” I guess this makes sense. The people we are in our 20s are not the same people we are in our 40s and 50s.
Almost everyone has heard that 50% of marriages end in divorce. What most people don’t know is that this figure is merely a projection based on research that dates to the 1970s, when there was a divorce boom after the introduction of no-fault divorce.
That statistic just doesn’t hold true anymore.
In fact, divorce rates have dropped 18% in the last few years. According to a study from the University of Maryland (UMD), the divorce rate dropped by 18 percent from 2008 to 2016, spurred by a sharp drop among younger Americans. What does this mean statistically? It means that millennials are getting divorced less while couples in my demographic (baby boomers, Gen-Xers) continue to get divorced. One can argue that the millennials haven’t been married as long and those low divorce rates could change as they get older.
In spite of the data that states divorce rates are lower than 50%, among people I know it seems to be booming.
But enough of the numbers. Does it really matter? I don’t believe anyone gets married planning on getting divorced some day.
Most of my friends who have gotten divorced seem to be genuinely great people who did not take their decisions lightly. Divorce is one of the hardest things for people to go through it has been said. I don’t believe people make the decision without heartbreakingly difficult thought and trauma.
So why am I not divorced yet?
The odds seem to be against me from both a statistical and anecdotal standpoint. We have had all the struggles that many couples have.
We have had layoffs and health crises.
We have had issues with mental health in our family.
We’ve both looked better and we have both looked worse.
We have had to take care of sick and dying parents.
We have had to raise a teenager.
We’ve been to counseling.
My husband travels all the time, so we often don’t see each other.
We have lost a child.
We aren’t religious people and don’t go to church.
These are all things that have been indicated as a precursor to divorce. Yet here we are.
So, what is my secret?
Is it because we have the same sense of humor, the same political views, or the same fierce love for our kids? Maybe. So, do a lot of my divorced friends.
Are we “better,” more educated, more dedicated? Nope.
I think we are just lucky.
I think we happen to have been assigned as the outlier in a complicated research study of marriage. Maybe there is such a thing as “soul mate” or “the one” and I have found that, even though I am no more deserving of it than the next person.
I just don’t know.
What I do know is that if we’re to get into the weeds on all the data, I should be divorced by now. I’m not, though, based on nothing tangible.
I feel extremely lucky and non-deserving. But most of all I feel thankful that so far, the odds continue to be in our favor.