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Do most marriages last?

One of the most oft-repeated statements about marriage is that about half of them end in divorce. Some new federal data finds that the state of matrimony in the United States doesn't seem to have improved much.

About two-thirds of marriages last at least 10 years, according to the latest survey by the National Center for Health Statistics. That's about the same as it was the last time the survey was conducted in 1995, when researchers found that after 20 years, that number fell to about 50 percent. The new survey didn't go out that many years. But William Mosher, a statistician who worked on the new survey, says the assumption is that the numbers would probably be about the same.

The finding comes from the National Family Growth Survey, which conducted detailed interviews with a nationally representative sample of 12,571 men and women ages 15 to 44 in 2002.

The survey found that 65 percent of marriages lasted at least a decade. But that wasn't true for everyone. Those who are better educated, for example, were much more likely to remain married. Just 54 percent of women with only high school diplomas stayed married for 10 years, compared to 78 percent of women with college degrees, the survey found. Likewise, only 54 percent of women who married before age 20 stayed married for more than 10 years, compared with 76 percent of those who waited until they were at least 26 to get hitched.

Another interesting finding from the survey was about cohabitation. A majority of couples who live together end up marrying, the survey found. Fifty-one percent of cohabitating couples ended up married within three years, and 65 percent marry within five years, according to the survey. It also found that most married people have lived with someone first, challenging the notion that living together first is necessarily a bad idea.

But there's also a big difference here in terms of education. Less than half of women with high school diplomas end up marrying the man they live with, whereas about 79 percent of women with college degrees marry their live-in boyfriends.

The statistics are very similar for men.

The survey did not examine the reasons for the differences. Mosher says a variety of factors are probably involved, including the fact that less educated women may simply be less able to afford to get married.

Andrew Cherlin, a professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, points out that cohabitation is much more common in Europe than it is in the United States. In countries such as France and Sweden, many couples' cohabitation has essentially become a substitute for marriage. Many of them live together for long periods. In the United States, although cohabitation has become much more common and accepted, most cohabiting couples either break up or get married within about three years.

By Rob Stein  |  March 3, 2010; 7:00 AM ET
Categories:  Motherhood , Women's Health  
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Factor in that women initiate divorce for arguably 80 to 90 percent of all marriages in the USA.

Thanks, ladies, for that statistic.

It would seem then that I could draw a conclusion where you, author, do not. It's a run-on article about nothing new.

I'll give it a shot:
The reason for the failure of marriages in the USA then could be that women, are basically unable to commit, or are perennially dissatisfied with things so they move on.

This is a form of mass psychosis which you don't seem to have the gunpowder to discuss, but hey, I'll throw up this idea just for you ladies to ponder, twist around until it suits YOU, and you alone.

Why do women discuss marriage at all if in fact the success rate is about 25%?

My advice- don't bother. We all know you think men are second-class citizens compared to you. That is a misconception that leads you to write meaningless, pappy articles for the post for peanuts, ad nausea.

My point, is WE (MEN) GET IT; you think you're all above us, and you need to be given the "Awwwww" of failure from time to time to make you feel good.

No, I won't be making any ladies feel good in the near future. I had a marriage, once, but it turns out that all along it was just a bad idea.

The problem is, I have kids from that marriage, and the princess has deemed me unfit to visit them. do I get an "awwwww"?

No ,the courts didn't say that, but I'd bet they would if she asked. She's doing this all on her own, and it stinks.

Happy days are definitely not ahead of you, haters of men.

80 to 90 percent of the marriages you speak of are going to fail because a WOMAN decided to quit the relationship.

That doesn't seem to come out in the article, though, now does it?

Boo - hoo.

Posted by: pgibson1 | March 3, 2010 3:27 PM | Report abuse

pgibson1 -- I'm sorry to hear that your marriage did not work; and that you have decided to make a generalization about marriage success based on your experience.
Mine did not work either, but in my case it was distroyed by an alcoholic husband who achieved sobriety and decided that he no longer wanted to be married -- not a woman (me) who decided that he was second class. I initiated the divorce yes, because I did not want to deal with the fall out (STDs, AIDS, etc) of my then husband's new found need to be "free". My advice to you is get over your bitterness, and find a woman who will love you for who you are.

Posted by: Thinkingoutloud | March 4, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Jeff Bridges is some sort of marriage guru. 32 years later he’s still married, with three kids. Asked what the secret is, he says: Not getting a divorce. If you’re married you’ll have tough times and you draw a line, then if your partner crosses that line you say: ‘Well is that it?’ or: ‘Am I going to enlarge my concept of what love is?”


Posted by: daveys | March 5, 2010 5:18 AM | Report abuse

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