A Dubious Draft of Divorce Predictors: How Long Will Your Marriage Last?

court document for divorce and gavel

The Daily Beast recently posted a list of “15 Ways to Predict Your Divorce” by Anneli Rufus.

As a newly divorced woman (and resident list lady, if this or this are any judge), I found this especially fascinating, especially in terms of my own divorce.

1. If you’re a married American, your marriage is between 40 and 50 percent likely to end in divorce.

So I guess that just by being married, my odds of divorcing increased. Kind of a disturbing train of thought to go in, but it makes sense, I guess …
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2. If you live in a red state, you’re 27 percent more likely to get divorced than if you live in a blue state.

New Hampshire went blue last election.
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3. If you argue with your spouse about finances once a week, your marriage is 30 percent more likely to end in divorce than if you argue with your spouse about finances less frequently.

The ex-husband left a job he loved to make more money, didn’t want to tell me this, and found that bottles of cheap wine made this better.
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4. If your parents were divorced, you’re at least 40 percent more likely to get divorced than if they weren’t. If your parents married others after divorcing, you’re 91 percent more likely to get divorced.

My parents are divorced (and both remarried). I’m evidently the kiss of death.
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5. If only one partner in your marriage is a smoker, you’re 75 percent to 91 percent more likely to divorce than smokers who are married to fellow smokers.

I’ve been a smoker at times, mostly before the marriage but once in awhile during. That probably counts …
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6. If you have a daughter, you’re nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than if you have a son.

I have two daughters …
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7. If you’re an evangelical Christian adult who has been married, there’s a 26 percent likelihood that you’ve been divorced—compared to a 28 percent chance for Catholics and a 38 percent chance for non-Christians.

I’m a Christian, but not not heavy on the evangelical part. I prefer to keep my relationship with God personal and private, and I try to live a life of good works that I can be proud of. The ex thought religion was stupid.
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8. If you live in Wayne County, Indiana, and are over 15 years old, there’s a 19.2 percent chance that you’ve been divorced.

Haha, I’ve never even been to Indiana.
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9. If both you and your partner have had previous marriages, you’re 90 percent more likely to get divorced than if this had been the first marriage for both of you.

This was the first marriage for both of us. I guess he and I are both screwed (metaphorically speaking) if we ever try the marriage thing with someone else.
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10. If you’re a woman two or more years older than your husband, your marriage is 53 percent more likely to end in divorce than if he was one year younger to three years older.

I’m just over three years older than he is.
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11. If you’re of “below average” intelligence, you’re 50 percent more likely to be divorced than those of “above average” intelligence.

Wow, what kind of idiot’s going to cop to “below average intelligence”? Wait, never mind … Anyway, I’ve had my IQ tested three times so I know what it is. I’m not a genius, but I am in what’s called the “superior range.”
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12. If you’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer, your likelihood of getting divorced is 40 percent higher than standard rates; it’s 20 percent higher if you’ve been diagnosed with testicular cancer.

Uh … no cancer.
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13. If you have twins or triplets, your marriage is 17 percent more likely to end in divorce than if your children are not multiple births.

No multiples. I think I’d have gone nuts …
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14. If you’re a female serial cohabiter—a woman who has lived with more than one partner before your first marriage—then you’re 40 percent more likely to get divorced than women who have never done so.

I never officially “lived with” anyone before my ex-husband–he was my first “cohabiter” and first spouse.
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15. If you’re in a male same-sex marriage, it’s 50 percent more likely to end in divorce than a heterosexual marriage. If you’re in a female same-sex marriage, this figure soars to 167 percent.

Since I’m straight, this is moot.
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Although studies from Johns Hopkins, Cambridge University, and the U.S. Census Bureau (that whole Wayne County, Indiana thing) support this, I found that 67% of these things were not, in fact, true for me. They didn’t mention alcohol abuse (his, not mine), which was the primary cause of our divorce.

I call “play for media attention” on this one. What do you think?



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9 thoughts on “A Dubious Draft of Divorce Predictors: How Long Will Your Marriage Last?

  1. My boyfriend and I (not married yet, but will be in a couple years) have a 196% chance of divorce… lovely.
    However, the only things that raised our chances were: getting married, red state(however, we are planning to move OUT of the Bible Belt ASAP, as we don’t want to raise children here), divorced parents who re-marry (both of his), and both of us being non-Christians…

    Lovely outlook for us….

    But yeah, this seems a little bogus to me, it didn’t talk about some really important things (important to me at least) like alcohol or drug addiction (the main cause of his parents’ divorce), violence, abuse, infertility, one partner wanting children while the other doesn’t, job stability, job stress, fidelity, etc.

    Also, I wonder if a whole bunch of Americans took this quiz, would the average %s equal the 40-50% of Americans that actually get a divorce?

  2. So I guess my chances would be pretty damn good if I decided to marry my boyfriend today. I’m thinking this is kind of a silly list though; it’s more a list of statistics than a way of predicting marriage survival.

  3. I’m pretty sure the last statistic, the one about same-sex marriages, is pretty skewed.

    There aren’t that many states who’ve legalized gay marriage, so the portion of homosexual people who got married and then divorced must be relatively small.

    • That was my thought as well. They’re drawing from such a tiny pool for form a statistic; I would really hesitate to judge a gay marriage’s chances from such a small number of marriages.

  4. I think shit like this is ridiculous. I’m not saying that statistics aren’t true, just that you cannot stick this sort of stigma on people who decide to get married. My parents were divorced, and that makes me want to try even harder to make my marriage work. I also live in a red state, and how that has any bearing at all over my marriage health, I have no idea. This list completely eliminates any personality component.

    Grrr. Sorry for the rant. I’m just sick of people telling me in one way or another that I’m a complete moron to get married. It’s amazing how often, once you become engaged, people tell you that marriage just doesn’t work or some shit like that. End of rant. Have a good day. :)

  5. One of the biggest issues they come up with when giving divorce stats is the number of people that marry and divorce many people.
    The only good stats I’ve seen are the ones giving 25-year ‘still married’ percentages (or other number). And those are rare.

    As an engaged person, I take all marriage stats as interesting, but not necessarily personally relevant. I think if some quality present in our marriage is one present in a number of divorces, it may be something to look at, and be aware of, but I’m not going to flip out.

    I think this is just poorly written as a ‘predictor’. It’s a list of stats. But stats mean very little when applied to an individual person or couple.

    For fun, I read through this. Our only theoretical issues are being non-christians, with divorce in one, but not both, of our sets of parents, and from a conservative province. (I assume that your silly american colour-backwardsness is irrelevant, and liberal/conservative is the relevant point. Provinces in Canada are also not required to be all one way or the other, and we have more than two major parties, but I happen to live in an entirely blue city, in a nearly entirely blue province, so it still works. But note that blue here is not backwards as per there. :D)

    As for the mention of being an ‘evangelical Christian’, they don’t mean anything about whether you personally tend to evangelize. It’s simply a common grouping for a number of protestant denominations. To differentiate from Lutherans, Presbyterians, etc.

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