50% percent of first marriages, 67% of second and 74% of third marriages end in divorce, according to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri.
Those above statistics are pretty common knowledge and have lead to incredible cynicism among the millenial generation (my generation) and generation X. In an attempt to avert future marital disaster many of the couples of these generations now resort to cohabitation prior to marriage in order to “test out” compatibility. This is unfortunate because cohabitation only makes marriages more likely to fail.
Psychology Today reported the findings of Yale University sociologist Neil Bennett that cohabiting women were 80% more likely to separate or divorce than were women who had not lived with their spouses before marriage. The National Survey of Families and Households indicates that “unions begun by cohabitation are almost twice as likely to dissolve within 10 years compared to all first marriages: 57% to 30%.”
A study by the National Council on Family Relations of 309 newlyweds found that those who cohabited first were less happy in marriage.
We now live in a post-sexual revolution, post-feminist movement world and, yet, couples are less happy than ever, dissolving their relationships at epidemic rates. This is astounding and secular accounts as to why this is occurring seem lackluster. Sure, marriage is often romanticized unrealistically, couples can be uncharitable, they may have poor communication skills or can’t handle conflict appropriately. But to suggest that such problems are unique to the last couple decades is absurd. Why are these problems worse today and why do people take the desperate measure of divorce when these problems arise?
Cohabitation obviously contributes but that’s largely a bad reaction to an already out-of-control divorce rate. Contraception is probably the single greatest factor contributing to divorce. Consider this: while the divorce rate of couples using contraception is over 50%, the divorce rate among natural family planning couples is less than one percent. Additionally, the divorce rate in America has risen in tandem with contraception use over the last several decades.
Sociologists believe that childlessness is also a common cause of divorce. The absence of children (a direct consequence of widespread contraception use) leads to loneliness and weariness and even in the United States, at least 66 per cent of all divorced couples are childless.
Epidemic divorce and single-parenting comes as no surprise to the Catholic Church, however, which has been nothing short of prescient in its predictions regarding the family. Pope Paul VI warned of four results if the widespread use of contraceptives was accepted:
- General lowering of moral standards
- A rise in infidelity, and illegitimacy
- The reduction of women to objects used to satisfy men.
- Government coercion in reproductive matters.
Every single one of those have come to pass.
However, even if you’ve made any of the mistakes that contribute to divorce, whether it be cohabitation, contraception use, or premarital sex, doesn’t mean that your marriage is doomed to failure.
Change. Don’t cohabitate or have sex before marriage, don’t use artificial contraception, work on your communication skills, your ability to deal with conflict in a mature manner, don’t be afraid to make sacrifices and, most importantly, say no to no-fault divorce and don’t give up.