Additional commentary on ’15 Ways to Predict Divorce’

This Daily Beast blog on “15 Ways to Predict Divorce” had some … interesting things to say on how to predict divorce (read Anna North’s two cents at Jezebel for a full and insightful analysis), but I have some additional observations about some of the circumstances author Anneli Rufus said were predictions of divorce.

Example 1: 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.

Rufus attributes this excessive arguing to money woes — that’s one possibility. The first thing that actually popped into my mind was that couples who are more argumentative are more likely to get a divorce because both parties speak their minds and aren’t going to be submissive to one another. I think it’s probably weird that was my first thought.

I mean, it’s obvious if you don’t have financial woes you’ll have one less thing to fight about, but arguing less about finances might mean you argue less about a lot of things — maybe you deal with problems in a manner other than arguing, which is probably a lot more healthier and calmer than just ripping each other’s heads off. Not to mention less stressful.

Example 2: 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.

Rufus cites Divorce Magazine’s  (yes, there is a magazine about divorce) publisher, who says that witnessing parental divorce reinforces our ambivalence about marriage. I think more than that, though, it’s not that we are ambivalent but it’s just the norm — it’s not as taboo.

My parents are divorced, and it’s not that I don’t take commitment or marriage as an institution seriously — it’s just that I’m not morally opposed to divorce because I can understand that two people grow apart over time. I can’t imagine my parents actually being married, and knowing they are both happy without each other gives me some piece of mind that divorce isn’t going necessarily ruin a person’s life.

Also, the publisher — who says,  “In most people’s minds, it’s easier to get a new car than fix the one you’ve got,” — makes it seem like people who get divorced give up. I disagree, because it implies that every marriage with problems is fixable. Sometimes a broken marriage is beyond repair — children of divorced parents don’t think spouses are “disposable,” but I think we’re realistic about the fact that people can change and grow apart.

Example 3: 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.

The divorce rate tends to be higher for non-Christians because there isn’t any religious ideology that holds them back from divorcing. Other studies have shown that cohabitating couples are more likely to get divorced, but one theory behind that was that the same people who don’t believe in divorce (likely for religious reasons) probably don’t believe in living together before marriage (for religious reasons).

Example 4:  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 interested me because it does seem like round two would be more successful — but it isn’t entirely surprising. Getting divorced the first time is difficult — I’d imagine the second time around it would be easier. You’re less likely to put up with someone’s BS because the threat of divorce doesn’t scare you — you’ve been through it already. It’s like getting your first tattoo — once you know how it feels and what the pain is like, getting another one isn’t as big a deal.


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