Are you in an unhappy marriage?
Maybe you are on the verge of divorce, or you’re not quite there yet but worried that you’re headed in that direction. You may be discouraged by statistics that claim that 50% of marriages end in divorce and that there is barely any difference in the divorce rate for those who are in the church. It seems almost inevitable that you will end up as a part of those statistics. How can you possibly beat the odds?
I have good news for you.
The divorce rate is not actually 50%, and never has been. The 50% divorce rate was only ever a projection, not an actual statistic. But this has been bandied around as the actual divorce rate for years. In fact, 72% of people who have ever been married are still married to their first spouse.
And those statistics that say that the divorce rate in the church is the same as outside?
This is a misquote of a study done by the Barna Group. This study only focused on whether someone claims to be Christian on the survey form. There are plenty of people in this country who claim Christianity but do not actively attend church or practice their faith.
Shaunti Feldhahn, author of The Good News About Marriage (aff link), recently worked with the Barna group to tabulate some different numbers, and they found that if the person attended church in the last 7 days the divorce rate dropped by 27%.
In the book she debunks these and other marriage statistic myths. One of her more encouraging findings is roughly 80% of troubled marriages become happy within 5 years. People who divorce are usually less happy than those who stick together during this time.
Divorce itself introduces new problems that are worse than the troubles that cause the divorce.
What does this mean if you are in a marriage that is troubled right now?
There is hope. You can get over the hump you are in. Your struggles to hold your marriage together are not futile. You can get back on the right track. Tough it out a little while longer, address whatever issues you are facing, and you have a very good change of having a successful marriage.
You can make it.
Divorce will probably not make you happy, and sticking together for a few more years probably will make you happy and result in a marriage that will bring years of happiness to your life.
Whatever troubles you are going through right now are circumstantial. Finances, job situations, family stress, health problems can all change. You can become a better person and your spouse can grow and learn to be a better husband or wife. You can learn to accept those things you can’t change.
The statistics are actually in your favor. Don’t give up.
But don’t do nothing and wait for it to get better, either. There are some simple things you can do to improve your marriage and reduce your chances of getting a divorce
- Hold on to Hope. People who believe that they will get through this crisis are much more likely to stay together. If you think you will probably get through it, or you might, or you probably won’t get through your chances of making it go down. Tell yourself and your spouse that you are facing this hurdle right now, but you will get through it together.
- Attend Church Together. As noted above, the divorce rate in the Church is not the same as for everyone else. Going to church makes a difference, and same faith couples who regularly attend services together are even less likely to divorce than if only one goes, or if both go to different services because of faith differences.
- Pray Together. Studies show that couples who pray together tend to feel more connected than couples who don’t. Making time for this will improve your relationship and make divorce much less likely.
- Be Involved in Supportive Relationships. Another thing that reduces the risk of divorce is getting involved in a supportive community that believes in marriage. Attend small groups or Bible studies offered through your church and get the support you need.
These simple things can go a long way to improving your relationship and getting you through whatever stumbling blocks you are facing. There are also many resources to help you get through your challenges, including the book Save Your Christian Marriage (aff link) by licensed Christian marriage therapist Kevin L. Baucom, which can guide you through the process of rebuilding a healthy and happy marriage.