First of all…don’t be a firefighter or marry a firefighter. The divorce rate for firefighters is over 60%– http://divorce.lovetoknow.com/Divorce_Rate_Statistics_by_Occupation~1 So what can you do to have a lasting marriage? Here are a few well-researched findings:
1. Move to New Jersey—the state with the lowest percentage of divorced people– http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/09/nj_leads_nation_in_lowest_divo.html
2. If you don’t want to live in New Jersey then at least live in the Northeast. Couples who live in the Northeast enjoy the lowest divorce rate among the other geographic regions in the country–http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/marital_status_living_arrangements/cb11-144.html
3. If you can’t live the Northeast at least live above the “Tan Line.” Generally, the more warm weather days suitable for bathing attire, the higher the divorce rate; the more cold weather days unsuitable for swimwear, the lower the divorce rate–http://www.divorcereform.org/mel/rgeog.html
4. Wait until age 25 until you marry. Divorce rates drop precipitously for people who are 25 or older when they marry–http://www.divorcerate.org/
5. Graduate from college. College graduates have a significantly lower divorce rate than those who do not graduate from High School, High School grads, and those with some college–http://familyscholars.org/author/bwilc/
6. While in college study to become an agricultural engineer. Agricultural engineers have a 1.78% sliver of a chance of divorce–http://maamodt.asp.radford.edu/Research%20-%20Forensic/SPCP%202008%20-%20McCoy%20&%20Aamodt%20-%20Divorce%20Rates.pdf
7. Make a good salary. Although low income couples and high income couples value marriage and despise divorce equally (it’s not an education issue), low income couples divorce at a significantly higher rate than those with a higher income–http://www.redorbit.com/news/science/1112653642/divorce-rate-high-for-low-income-couples/
8. Live in a city that is home to a major league baseball team (preferably in the Northeast). The divorce rate of couples living in cities that have a major league baseball team have a divorce rate 28% lower than in cities that lack a major league franchise. (Think New York, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Cleveland, Detroit, etc.) http://www2.nando.net/noframes/story/0,2107,31812-51154-381237-0,00.html
9. Have a couple of kids. A 1977 study showed that divorce in America is most common in families with large families and among those that are childless–http://links.jstor.org/
10. Take your faith seriously. Adults who practice their faith seriously drastically reduce the chances of divorce–http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/09/25/factchecker-divorce-rate-among-christians/
a. “Active conservative Protestants” are 35% less likely to divorce
b. “Active Catholics” are 31% less likely to divorce
c. “Active Jews” are 97% less likely to divorce. Mazal Tov!
d. Mormons who have a Temple Marriage have a meager 6% divorce rate–http://www.divorcereform.org/mel/rmormon.html
As a foot note, make every effort to take your faith as seriously as your partner. Sadly if one partner takes his or her faith seriously while the other one does not…that leads to marital trouble
11. Be an Asian. Asians divorce at a measly 20%–http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/01/12/divorce-rate-by-race-and-_n_805580.html#s220304&title=Asian_49
12. Practicehomogeneity. Simply put, marry someone with a social background, social status, social group and with traits similar to yourself. One well-know marriage scholar says this “is the greatest predictor of marital longevity”– Heard at NACFLM Conference, Baltimore, MD on July 26, 2012
13. Go easy on the wedding costs. Economics professors at Emory University surveyed “more than 3,000 people–all of whom have been married just once–and found that across income levels, the more you dish out on the big day the shorter your marriage will be…. For the best odds…keep the festivities to less than $1,000.” http://www.pbs.org/newshour/updates/spending-less-wedding-save-marriage/
What can we conclude? If you want to have the best chance of a lasting marriage, be a well-educated 25 year-old Asian Hasidic Jew who marries an equally devout 25 year-old Asian Jew who seal the vows in a Mormon Temple Marriage, spending less than $1000 on the wedding, live in Ft. Lee, New Jersey (less than 5 miles from Yankee Stadium), who raise a couple of kids. That couple (statistically) will have the very least chance of divorce.
But what if you are a 24 year-old pasty-white married individual, living in small town in the Southeast, are not a college graduate, work as a firefighter, make less than $70K / year, have five kids, and are an occasional church goer? Is there any hope?
We think there is a lot of hope and opportunity for churches to provide encouragement and resources to help relationships thrive. Isn’t that what the church is about…tying love of God to love of others? We could be those who help others love well and love long. For this reason Leadership Network is working with Watermark Church to help promote Marriage Ministry Conference April 21-23, 2015. We at Leadership Network are also pulling together a group of curious churches in the who want to discover together how to disciple the relationship called “marriage.” For more information contact Chris Willard at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the Marriage Ministry Contact Form found at https://leadnet.org/site/page/3390 and we will get in touch with you.