A 60 Percent Divorce Rate? Statistics Say Yes

Published May 1, 1986If you are a married woman between the ages of 30 and 39, pay attention. Better still, have your husband pay attention. The projections are that 60 percent of you will be divorced before age 40.

The Population Association of America met in San Francisco not long ago, and, from a U.S. Census Bureau report, it was suggested that if recent trends continue, six out of 10 women in their 30s will have their first marriages end in divorce. The bureau’s forecast, as was reported, is a significant jump from the already-high 50 percent rate of marriage failure in some geographical areas.

During the marriage seminars I have conducted, I have consistently quoted the overall 40 percent of divorce in the United States. It has only been during the past year that I suggested vocally, and in this column, that in some parts of the United States divorce is now the norm. More people divorce than stay married.

Now we have the projection by the Population Association of America that certain segments of our society will experience an even higher divorce rate. And that one segment is women now in their 30s.

Suppose the projection eventually proves to be correct? What implications does this have for society in general in the United States? What impact will the trend have on marriages in our own Intermountain area?

As a marriage educator and counselor, I am prepared to deal with the projected trend, and I have committed a major portion of my profession to prevention of marital disruption. What might be done, individually and collectively, to decrease or even prevent the projected divorce trend?

First, we must ask ourselves why women between the ages of 30-39 are so divorce prone? I have some ideas. See what you think of them.

For what it’s worth, these women are the famed Baby Boomers and were born beginning in 1945, right after World War II. Because they, along with their male counterparts, are so numerous, they have instigated many changes in the United Sates that are political, economic, and social in nature.

In addition, these women would have married between 1966 and 1976, which were years of change in the United States. There was the Vietnam War and the Civil Rights Movement.  The Women’s Movement also gained momentum during this time, reexamining the roles of women and their relationships with men.

We also know that women in their 30s are the ones most prone to extra-marital affairs, which often lead to divorce. During their 20s, most married women are highly involved in motherhood and rearing their children. It is during the ages of 30-40 that the mothering roles are less physically demanding. Women are then able to focus once again on their own needs and wants. If they have been ignored or neglected by their husbands during the years of mothering, and many have, they are more susceptible to the attention of other men, which can and often does lead to extra-marital sex.

Perhaps most significant of all, marriage as an institution in the United States has undergone dramatic changes during the past two decades. It has moved from the traditional male-centered relationship to a more companionship-oriented relationship based on equality. Few men are aware, or seem to care about this most significant change in structure in American marriages.

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