It's easy to understand why no one likes to talk about divorce. It's an emotionally charged word that begets resentment, grief, and memories of heartbreak. It's such an affected word that nearly anyone - single, married, or divorced - could understand why a divorcée would say, "I never want to get married again!"
Heartbreak is something we can all empathize with; but as much as it pains us, it cannot kill us. You are not fated to a lifetime of loneliness if your marriage went sour. In fact, best-selling author Shaunti Feldhahn reveals new research in her latest book, The Good News About Marriage, that not only debunks several myths about divorce, but also makes the case for taking a risk on taking the plunge.
Sorting Myth from Reality
For decades we've been told that the divorce rate in the U.S. is around 50 percent. Feldhahn, however, says that number is much, much lower. After spending years researching the divorce rate, the former Wall Street analyst discovered that most of the research on divorce is - well, just like the nature of divorce itself - complicated.
While investigating the truth for The Good News About Marriage, Feldhahn says she discovered that when it comes to first-time marriages, "probably 20 to 25 percent have ended in divorce, on average." That means the 50 percent divorce rate we all assumed to be true may actually be only half that.
Feldhahn goes on to explain that the 50 percent figure we've all heard so many times before probably came from projections of what researchers thought the divorce rate would become after studying escalating divorce rates from the 1970s and early 1980s. According to Feldhahn, the current divorce rate is actually dropping each year. So, put that in your bridal veil and smoke it!
There's Strength in Numbers
One of the most interesting findings from Feldhahn's new book reveals that, for troubled relationships, "If a couple stays married for five years, almost 80 percent of those couples will be happy five years later." Sure, every marriage has its highs and lows, but her research has found that fixing marriage problems is often more a matter of doing a few little things differently, rather than engaging in three-times-a-week psychotherapy. And if that is true, it makes sense that sticking it out, deepening a connection over time, and making way for greater understanding, would eventually work to help a couple overcome difficulties and create a level of intimacy that's hard to find anywhere else.
A determination to stick it out also gives you the time you need to regain perspective. It takes time to see how your spouse reacts in stressful situations, or how they care for your ailing parent in an emergency - these are the hard moments that can soften the heart, and can help remind you why you fell in love in the first place.
Feldhahn's research should give hope to married couples who hear the 50 percent divorce rate statistic and then look around the room, trying to figure out which of their other married friends will fall victim to this number. It makes a huge difference to instead look around the room and think, "How cool that most of these marriages will be strong and happy for a lifetime!" Indeed, this is good news about marriage.
Divorce Doesn't Have to Be Life-Ruining
For those who think going through a divorce means all love is lost, think again. The latest State of Dating in America report, a joint study from ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com, revealed that 74 percent of respondents would probably or definitely marry someone who has children from a previous relationship. Single parents who are worried their childless dates would never want to take on a step-parent role can relax. Apparently, singles are much more open to the idea than one may think.
More good news? Second marriages have more lasting potential than the myths would have you believe. On average, 65 percent of remarried people are still married to their second spouse, according to Feldhahn's new book. Not only is 65 percent exactly the opposite of the myths (which tend to claim that 60% of second marriages end in divorce!), but the other 35 percent of people who are no longer married aren't necessarily divorced! That number also includes everyone who was married to their second spouse for years until a spouse died! It seems singles who remarry for the second time have a strong probability of staying married for a lifetime.
These numbers prove that for the majority of people, second marriages are a second chance at real, true, lasting love. This should be encouraging news for anyone second-guessing their decision to remarry. Like I said before, divorce doesn't have to mean your love life is perpetually doomed - hopefully, it just means that you've learned a few lessons the hard way, but came out on top.