It seems like everything you hear about marriage is bad these days. You have probably heard that 1 out of every 2 marriages ends in divorce. You may have even heard that the number is about the same whether the couple is active in church or not. I may have even talked about those statistics in blog posts in the past.
Author Shaunti Feldhahn, who wrote the books For Women Only and For Men Only, has come out with another book recently titled Surprising News about Marriage. One of her main points in the book is that when she went to find this statistic that seemed to be broadcast quite commonly she couldn’t find the statistics to verify it. She looked through government statistics, marriage researchers’ data, and journalists’ references to find that there wasn’t an exact answer to the question of the number of marriages that end in divorce. The best that she could come up with was that the actual percentage was actually around 35% of marriages that end in divorce and decreasing. Marriages with churchgoing couples had a lower percentage of divorce than that.
I know for several years I have wondered about the bad news in that statistic. “1 in 2” sounds like marriages are doomed before they start. Why would someone want to sign up for that if the odds are so far against it working? Many couples may think, “why bother?”
I had always wondered about the statistic but thought that maybe I am very isolated and in an area that may be above average for lasting marriages. When I look around at church there are some people who have been divorced but the number seems more like 1 in 10 or less. When I look around at work it seems to be similar. When I look around my neighborhood once again I see similar numbers.
When my wife and I got married, early on we set a ground rule that divorce was not an option. It has really helped us in the tough times to know that we were both committed to working through whatever struggles we had without the threat of divorce.
So, in a time when a marriage between a man and a woman is being attacked daily it is important to look at the good news that there is hope for marriages. Let’s turn the discussion to the fact that most marriages make it. Most marriages that are formed with any semblance of a Christian union make it at an even higher rate.
Shaunti Feldhahn states in her book that, “Most marriages aren’t just so-so. The vast majority are happy.”
So, what did Shaunti Feldhahn find was the main difference between a marriage that makes it and one that doesn’t? It turns out that “hope” is the difference. She found that couples that had hope that they would overcome their issues usually did.
So, what if only one side in a marriage still maintains hope that they will make it? Shaunti found that when talking with counselors, therapists, clergy, and marriage mentors, most agreed that “if even one spouse has a sense of hope that things can change, or simply a vision to keep going no matter what, it is amazing how often that one-sided commitment keeps the marriage afloat long enough to get it sailing again.”
Marriage isn’t easy. Marriage is often difficult. Are you going to be the one to hold out hope for your marriage? Are you going to be the one to stand up and look at the facts and see that most people are not getting a divorce? Be the hope in your marriage this year.