Updated January 8, 2020

How Long Does the Average Marriage Last

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Rumor has it that more than 50% of American marriages end up in divorce. Is it true? Learn about the average length of a marriage and other important divorce statistics in the United States.

Looking Closely at Marriages

  1. How long is the average marriage?
    The average marriage in the United States lasts 8 years. This is the average time from marriage to divorce. The average time between marriage and separation is 7 years.

  2. What percentage of first marriages end up in divorce?
    Between 40% and 50% of first marriages end in divorce dissolved in the United States.

  3. What percentage of second marriages end up in divorce?
    Second marriages have an even higher risk of divorce, nearly 60%.

  4. What percentage of couples make it to 10 years?
    Just about 70% of married couples in the United States make it to their 10th wedding anniversary.

  5. What percentage of couples make it to 20 years?
    The likelihood of a couple making it to their 20th anniversary drops to just about 50% after their 10-year anniversary.

    Women initiate almost 70% of divorces. In contrast, separation of non-married couples was about equal, with men and women both initiating just as often.

  6. Do divorced couples ever reconcile?
    Approximately 6 out of 1,000 divorced couples reunite, according to Nancy Kalish, professor emeritus at California State University in Sacramento. Of those that did reunite, though, 72% stayed together.

  7. How many divorces involve children?
    More than 1 million children suffer the effects of divorce every year. In fact, only 42% of teens (ages 14–18) live with their own parents who are in their first marriage.

  8. What are the five grounds for divorce?
    Each state has their own "grounds for divorce laws" for at-fault divorces. But some are common across all states, including:
    • Adultery
    • Abuse
    • Fraudulent marriage
    • Marriage between relatives
    • Mental health illness
    • Criminal acts
    • Bigamy
    • Addiction

In no-fault divorces, the most common reason is "irreconcilable differences," which could mean many things. Another common reason is "incompatibility."

Marriages Around the World

  1. What states have the highest rates of divorce?
    The top five states with the highest divorce rates are:
    • Nevada: 4.5 out of every 1,000 people

    • Oklahoma: 4.1 out of every 1,000 people

    • Wyoming: 4.0 out of every 1,000 people

    • Idaho: 3.9 out of every 1,000 people

    • Alabama, Arkansas, and Kentucky: 3.7 out of every 1,000 people

  2. What states have the lowest rates of divorce?
    The five states with the lowest rates of divorce are:
    • Illinois and Louisiana: 1.9 out of every 1,000 people divorce

    • Iowa: 2.0 out of every 1,000 people divorce

    • Massachusetts and Texas: 2.2 out of every 1,000 people

    • Kansas and Wisconsin: 2.4 out of every 1,000 people

    • District of Columbia, Maryland, and North Dakota: 2.5 out of every 1,000 people

  3. What country has the highest divorce rate?
    Maldives, a country with a population of approximately 450,000 people, has a divorce rate of 10.97 divorces for every 1,000 people.

  4. What country has the lowest divorce rate?
    India has the lowest divorce rate throughout the world, with just 1% of marriages ending in divorce.

Divorce Causes

  1. What is the most common age for divorce?
    25- to 39-year-olds are the most likely to get divorced, with a rate of 24 out of every 1,000 married people.

    40- to 49-year-olds were a close runner up, with 21 people for every 1,000 married people getting divorced.

  2. What percentage of divorces are a "gray divorce"?
    Today, for every 1,000 adults ages 50 and over who are married, 10 of those couples divorced. This is double the amount of "gray divorces" from the '90s.

  3. What profession has the highest rate of divorce?
    Gaming managers tend to have the highest rate of divorce, at just about 53%. The data shows that those with higher levels of education and consequently, larger salaries, tend to have lower levels of divorce.

  4. What profession has the lowest rate of divorce?
    Ironically enough, actuaries, who study risk, have the lowest rate of divorce, at 15%.

  5. What is the leading cause of divorce?
    The reasons for divorce are numerous, but the most common cause is "basic incompatibility," according to a study conducted by the Institute for Divorce Financial Analysts.

    The remaining top causes for divorce include:

    • Infidelity: 28%
    • Money issues: 22%
    • Abuse (physical or emotional): 5.8%

    At the bottom of the scale are parenting issues and addiction issues, both with a score of just 0.5%.

15% of married couples haven't had sex in the last six months, according to a study by Denise A. Donnelly, associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University.

  1. Who is most likely to get divorced?
    Anyone can get divorced for any reason. But some traits may increase your odds, including:
    • Getting married too young (typically younger than 21)

    • Having little education

    • Not living in a "first marriage" home

    • Inability to handle stress

    • Being divorced before

    • Low income

  2. What percentage of divorces happen because of social media?
    A UK-based study claimed that 20% of divorces were due to Facebook or other social media sites. While the validity of the study is under scrutiny, a study conducted by the University of Missouri did find that excessive Facebook or other social media use could cause issues with spouses.

  3. What are the top ways to avoid divorce?
    Some of the top ways to avoid divorce include:
    • Keeping the lines of communication open

    • Staying on the same page regarding finances
      (Including on the engagement ring. Check out online jewelry retailers, such as Blue Nile, to save. If you're wondering "Is Blue Nile good ," read our full review.)

    • Get outside help if things aren't going right

    • Make time to connect every day or as often as you can

    • Spend time apart to do things you love

    • Enter a marriage only when you know both parties are dedicated and ready

Bottom Line

Divorce is common no matter where you live. Before you enter into a marriage, take your time and think about the future. Not all marriages are doomed, but the statistics are eye-opening enough to make couples truly think about their decision.

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