Just like the Beatle's song, “I read the news today, oh boy,” one look at the currently accepted divorce rate in the United States can be downright depressing.
According to the American Psychological Association’s website entitled Marriage and divorce (2017), “…about 40 to 50 percent of married couples in the United States divorce. The divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher.” However, spanning eight years of research, Shaunti Feldhahn reported that these statistics are simply not true. In her book The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce, Feldhahn (2014) picked apart faulty and long-held beliefs based on bad statistics on the institution of marriage in America.
Finding a more accurate measurement, Feldhahn brought “good news” about the actual rate of divorce for those in and outside the church In order to "de-bunk" some of the false facts and ideas about the divorce rate, here is some of the “good news” from Feldhahn's (2014) research:
1. The vast majority of marriages last a lifetime; the current divorce rate has never been close to 50 percent—it is closer to 20 to 25 percent for first-time marriages and 31 percent for all marriages—and has been declining for years.
2. The vast majority of marriages are happy (around 80 percent)! Most people are glad they married their spouse and, given the chance, would do it all over again.
3. The rate of divorce in the church [currently touted as higher than the non-church rate] is 25 to 50 percent lower than among those who don’t attend worship services, and those who prioritize their faith and/or pray together are dramatically happier and more connected.
4. The large majority of remarriages last. Among women in second marriages, 65 percent are still married to their spouse, and of those who aren’t, many were widowed rather than divorced.
5. In most cases, having a good marriage or improving a struggling one doesn’t have to be ultra-complicated or solve deep, systematic issues; small changes can and do often make a big difference.
We have then every reason to celebrate rather than mourn the institution of marriage!
In the first chapter, Feldhahn points out why it matters that we get to the truth by saying something very insightful, “After an eight-year investigative study, I now know that although there are plenty of challenges, most marriages are still far stronger, happier, and longer lasting than most of us realize…. the belief otherwise can become a self-fulfilling prophecy” (p. 5).
Hope is the “common denominator among marriages that survived versus those that failed” (p. 3). And hope was engendered in me, a counseling intern and an adult child of divorced parents, when I read Feldhahn's book. I belief that Feldhahn's research was groundbreaking and certain to change the paradigm of people’s conception and success in marriage.
Do You Know What This Means?
Given the ‘prophetic nature’ of what we think and believe (and in this case, about marriage), Feldhahn's research offers hope to people who all their lives have been afraid of the commitment of marriage or fear abandonment once they are married.
No longer do married couples or prospective spouses have to be fearful that they are or will be ‘part of the 50%’ when problems arise. Rather, problems in the marriage relationship can be viewed from a proper lens, an impetus to seek solutions, and not seen as predictive of divorce.
Bio: Steven is currently serving as a Counseling Intern at MTS Counseling Center, utilizing both an artistic background and master’s level training in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from Moody Theological Seminary. A compassionate, discerning listener, Steven places high value in hearing peoples’ personal stories and helping them leverage their strengths toward fuller capacity, identity, and positive change.
Feldhahn, S. (2014). The Good News About Marriage: Debunking discouraging myths about marriage and divorce. Colorado Springs, Co: Multnomah Books.
Marriage and divorce. (2017). Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/topics/divorce/.