Study shows decades-long decline in failed marriages

Aside from being celebrities, Kim Kardashian and Britney Spears have little in common, except for their failed marriages. Kardashian’s marriage to Kris Humphries held on only 72 days, while Britney Spears’ marriage to Jason Alexander lasted 55 hours.

These celebrities and others like them have given the impression divorce should be common and the rates extremely high. However, this is not the case.

The divorce rate as of 2010 was 65 percent. This is less than the 77 percent it was in 1960. There are many factors that contribute to this decline, age being one of the most prominent, according to the Pew Research Center.

“We know now that one of the strongest predictors of divorce is the age in which you get married,” said Amber Paulk, professor of sociology. “It does seem like the younger the age, the higher the likelihood.”

Freshman Maria Sullivan said she believes people should wait until they are older and more mature before they get married.

Another reason for the decline in divorce rates is because of people staying married longer, Paulk said.

“There are some spikes where divorce happens,” she said. “Four years is one, seven years and 14 years are others. So, more people are making it past those benchmarks. That’s why they’re saying divorce is on the decline.”

Despite the decline that is seen, Paulk recommends being cautious.

“I think that we have to look at those statistics with a little bit of caution,” Paulk said. “What they’re really doing is examining marriages that are still ongoing. So, while things are looking up, it’s like looking at a cake in the oven currently baking and saying that’s going to be a great cake. Some of these marriages could potentially still end.”

Although junior Jay Liles said he agrees with this, he also adds a different perspective to the cause of this decline.

“Due to the recent legislation that allows gay people to get married, with gay marriage comes gay divorce,” Liles said. “I see marriage and divorce rates increasing. It’s just a logical expectation due to the parameters of marriage opening up.”

Not only have divorce rates gone down, but marriage rates have too. Marriage rates were at 72 percent in 1960, today they are at 51 percent, Pew reported.

Freshman Derrick Perry said he believes the marriage rate was high because people had to leave home earlier. In order for people to get security, they had to get married.

Liles said he thinks American dating rituals have an effect on marriage rates.

“I would say that now a days the way we date is a factor of the marriage rate,” Liles said. “It’s a lot less personal. We’ve found it a lot easier to live behind a screen as opposed to live with someone else.”

Despite this decline in marriage, students remain hopeful.

“Whenever I do meet somebody who I think is right for me, then I’ll see,” said freshman Maria Sullivan. “Seeing those rates and just thinking about it, people are working things out more than they have been.”

Students are not the only people who are hopeful.

“This generation – coming from the largest divorce rate that we ever had – report being very hopeful and thinking that marriage is really important,” Paulk said. “People still report believing in marriage and going into marriage with the best of intentions.”