Saturday, July 16, 2005

'Til Divorce We Do Part: Smart People Wait

Another departure from choir news/facts with a message or two to all of my students in their late teens or early twenties contemplating huge decisions. I'm about finished chasing this rabbit, but I've wanted to look these statistics up for a while.

Source page.

Marriages don't exist in a vacuum. Studies suggest that many factors contribute to the success or failure of a marriage, including geography, age, religion, race, income and education level, and family history of divorce. Study the truth behind the numbers, and you may find your own marriage has a higher chance of success.

Interesting fact 1: Warm weather contributes to higher divorce rate. Another strange, but accurate, predictor of divorce rates is warm weather. More than 60 percent of the total U.S. population lives in the northern half of the country, yet less than half of all divorces occur there. Ironically, the Bible Belt states have some of the highest divorce rates of all.

Interesting fact 2: Couples who tie the knot early are much more likely to get divorced. Studies show that nearly half the people who marry under age 18 will have failed marriages, and 40 percent of those who marry under age 20 will end up divorced. In contrast, only 24 percent of people who marry after age 25 will get divorced. Half of all marriages in which the bride is under age 18 will end in divorce within ten years.

It seems that the smart thing to do is wait until you are 25 to consider marriage . . . and then to live where it is cooler . . .


defiant goddess said...

I'm 31 and still unmarried. But I live in Southern California. I've got a 50/50 chance. ;)

Clayton said...

Hey! Great info. Hope you get to read the post I published on my blog in response. Hope your summer is going well and good luck with potty training. ive heard you can really mess up your child if you potty train them wrong. Anyway,

God bless

Holly Jean said...

Dr. Copeland you're a wise man. Lol...Have any advice for those making big decisions that don't involve marriage?

Anonymous said...

This is Leah.

I definitely agree that it is wiser to wait till you're a little older to get married. However, as for the statistic about warm temperatures affecting divorce rates, I believe you're jumping to conclusions.

You cited a statistic indicating higher divorce rates in the south, but the problem is that statistics just tell it like it is; they do not explain the WHY. It may be true that there are higher divorce rates where temperatures are higher, but the warmer weather does not neccessarily cause higher divorce rates. In fact, it might be the other way around: higher divorce rates cause higher temperatures (because of all the hot tempers!).

No really, there is a more-likely variable: a lot of UNmarried couples live together. With couples who never bother tying the knot, there's no divorce. In the Bible Belt of the South, cohabitation is not as widely accepted as in the North, thus, the wide-spread cohabitation in the North may explain why they have lower divorce rates.

Also, here in the south, the tradition of shot-gun weddings still lingers in some areas, putting southern divorce rates even higher.

In conclusion, your statistics do not prove that warmer temperatures cause higher divorce rates; they merely indicate that the two variables have a positive correlation (positive meaning as one variable increases, the second variable increases).

Just out of curiousity, it would be interesting to see if anyone has done studies on HOW a warmer environment affects the quality of communication (and quality of communication has a lot to do with how long marriages last).


Philip L. Copeland said...

Leah: a very well reasoned argument. However, I am not the one that said that, I'm just reporting what one person said in regards to the warmer temperatures.

As far as shot-gun weddings putting the divorce rate higher in the south, I think you'd have to cite some statistics and studies to justify that leap.

However, the primary statistic that warrented a mention in my blog is the one on the high divorce rate for marraiges that take place before age 25. My message: don't get married when you are 18-22. Think about it at 23-24, but still wait.

Anonymous said...

Hey! This is Rachel. So this is a lot longer than I intended, but we’ll just say I’m making up for not posting at all last year. ;-)

With regards to people marrying young, I think it goes a little further than statistics. Your brain isn't fully developed until your early twenties. More importantly, it’s the part of your brain used for judgment (the prefrontal cortex...I think). This is why the drinking age is 21. The majority of 18 and 19 year olds didn't have the brain development to make good decisions about drinking and driving. And yes, I know that doesn't apply to most of us. But just remember all the fools you went to high school with-it makes sense.

With the whole north and south thing, I don't think weather has anything to do with it-except that people in the north probably cuddle more because it’s colder. Maybe, and this is just an idea, all the southerners are caught up in a dreamy, idealistic, Gone-With-the-Wind conception of marriage while people in the north tend to be more cynical and realistic of life. Another side note which may or may not make that big of a difference-The north is largely catholic, which is a more community oriented religion with no allowance for divorce, while the south is protestant, which tends to be more of an individual faith and allowing of divorce.

But honestly, I think the biggest thing that contributes to divorce is our total ignorance of what love is and our twisted ideologies about the purpose of marriage. There is a lot in our culture which does nothing but tear at the heart of what marriage is. Hollywood movies have brainwashed us into thinking that love is all about feelings. While feelings are extremely important, feelings change depending on what you eat, weather, mood, etc. They aren’t very reliable for a lifetime decision. Love is more a decision of the will than a feeling. The difference is like this: If you say you love this shirt, what you mean is you want or desire or need that shirt. If you say you love a person, you probably also mean that you want or desire or need that person; but a real, solid understanding of love goes further than that.

A lasting kind of love isn’t about what you need. Rather, it’s a decision to lay down your life for this person, much like Christ laid down his life for us. A real understanding of love is willing to love through the good, happy times, and also bear the crosses that come through the bad, much like Christ did for us. A real understanding of love realizes that marriage is a vocation. It is dedicating your earthly life in the service of loving one particular person much like Christ has loved you. We can only love because Christ loved us. The only real love is the kind of love Christ taught. Your relationships are all a reflection of your relationship with Christ, and all exist in order to bring you closer to Christ. Even those people we meet randomly, and never see again-they teach us something about the world that brings us closer to God. This is even more important to understand in a marriage. Marriage exists so that we can learn how to love like Christ did. I mean, if you think about life realistically, we’re all gonna die at some point. Our ultimate destination should be Heaven. Everything in our life is there to lead us to that destination. This is especially true with regards to a spouse and family. On those days that you’re tired and annoyed at your wife nagging, or your children being noisy, or whatever else (there are many many many pressures in marriage), you have to learn how to ask the simple “what would Jesus do?” and then act accordingly.

Because most people don’t look into this kind of ideology, many think marriage is about feelings and passions. They don’t see it as a vocation or a decision. And when it comes time to either give in to the annoyance of the nagging wife or love her beyond her nagging, all they can go off of are their own feelings which unlike the love of Christ, cannot bear the crosses of love. Love is not something that just happens. Love is a decision from within to apply the gifts God has given you and to sacrifice your life, like Christ did, for others. This is true in your relationships with your spouse, your family, your friends, and humanity in general.

Ok, this is getting a little long so I think I’ll wrap it up. This is a great article if you’re interested in reading more:

I know the next question to this would be “Then why are all the atheists and agnostics staying married?” From my own personal experience, every atheist or agnostic I seem to meet, while not Christian, has a deep, inner drive and passion for truth. They are atheist or agnostic because they dare to question what most Christians blindly accept. The atheist or agnostic seeks out answers while the na├»ve Christian is comfortable staying in a stunted, childlike mentality of truth. From my experience, atheists and agnostics tend to want honest reality. (I’m speaking of the ones that aren’t doing it purely for rebellious reasons). On the other hand, a large majority of Christians seem to float in their faith, accepting it as a social thing, never growing, never seeking, and never challenging themselves to understand reality on a deeper level. Also, atheists and agnostics, since they don’t believe in a universal, objective God, tend to indirectly believe they are their own God. So you have someone who 1) does things because they believe them in the deepest part of their mind to be true, not because everyone else says to and 2) believe that they are their own God. While they may not believe in Christ explicitly, they believe in truth whole heartedly.

Having said all this, I could understand why the commitment of an agnostic who is consistently honest about his beliefs of the world, and who makes a formal, objective decree as his own God to love this other person for the rest of his life would last longer than that of a Christian who believes things about the world because everyone else does and marries because of his own temporary, subjective feelings.

Anonymous said...

Amen...those are all excellent points about the difference between what you think of marriage coming into college and what is should be in reality...however I do think that the feelings of love are extremely important...but you do have to work on all types of loving/caring relationships...friends,parents,spouses all fight from time to time, but that does not mean there is not a love between them...peace out

Anonymous said...

Oh yea, totally! I really don't mean to deemphasize feelings. It just seems to me that the modern person's heart has been tainted by harmful ideologies like consumerism, materialism, individualism, utilitarianism, radical feminism, etc, none of which are very good for interpersonal relationships. But anyhow, yea, I think your heart and your head should agree. Someone once said something along the lines of "The heart knows things the mind will never understand" and I honestly think that's true. And another-“Follow your heart but take your head along the way.”

Oh, one last thing, (promise!) all this talk about knowing yourself, yada yada, obviously is very, very important. But I’d remind someone who is thinking about marriage that even if you know who you are now, and you know who your potential spouse is now, they WILL NOT be the same person 20 years down the road, and neither will you, and you have to prepare yourself for that.

Anonymous said...


Tara said...

I personally LOVE being married and I am only 21 years of age! So, if it fits you... wear it. **Plus, with God at the center of your relationship age, weather, brain development, statistics, nor anything else will have a say-so in the success of your marriage... because if it is truly ordained by God... it will last... marriage is not just a commitment it is a covenant made between you(as a couple) and God.

Anonymous said...

I got married when I was 24 and am about to celebrate my 10 year anniversary. Maybe I am one of the few that survive but I think it is due to having a God centered marriage.