It’s a new year teeming with newly engaged couples who have followed a long-standing trend of popping the question between Thanksgiving Day and New Year’s Day. Likely a ring has already been purchased and discussions of dates, venues, guest list and honeymoon destinations are well underway. Little do these couples know their wedding-related decisions and expenditures may be statistical predictors for how successful their marriages will be.
In 2014 researchers Andrew M. Francis and Hugo M. Mialon, members of the Department of Economics at Emory University, surveyed thousands of recently married and divorced Americans with dozens of questions about their marriage. The authors used their findings to calculate the factors that best predicted whether a marriage would end in divorce. They presented their work and the supporting work of other researchers in a study titled, “‘A Diamond is Forever’ and Other Fairy Tales: The Relationship between Wedding Expenses and Marriage Duration.”¹
A statistician’s dream, the paper itself is not so easy for the layperson to read. Thankfully, Dr. Randal S. Olson, a self-described “Full Stack Data Scientist, Artificial Intelligence Researcher and Consultant,” published a more simplified take on the original study titled, “What makes for a stable marriage?”²
The Biggest Factors
HOW LONG THE COUPLE DATED BEFORE GETTING ENGAGED – The survey results revealed that the longer a couple dated before getting engaged improved their odds of remaining married. When compared against couples who dated for less than one year before getting engaged, couples who dated for three or more years were 39% less likely to divorce and couples who dated for one to two years were 20% less likely to divorce. My takeaway: What’s the rush? Get to know your partner before tying the knot.
HOW MUCH MONEY WAS SPENT ON THE WEDDING – This factor may leave you scratching your head. Compared to couples who spent between $5k – $10K on their wedding, couples who spent $20k+ were 46% more likely to get divorced. And couples who spent less than $1k on their wedding were 53% less likely to get divorced. The researchers attributed these findings to persistent financial stress on the couples starting with their expensive weddings, which ultimately led to their divorces. My takeaway: Perhaps the couples who spent less on their wedding were already pressed for money and they simply couldn’t afford to get divorced.
HOW MANY PEOPLE ATTENDED THE WEDDING – Somewhat of a contradiction to spending less on the wedding to improve the odds of remaining married, the larger the wedding attendance, was the less likely the couple was to get divorced. Incredibly, compared to couples who eloped, couples who had 200+ guests at their wedding were 92% less likely to divorce. My takeaway: Perhaps you should invite that long-lost second cousin once removed.
THE HONEYMOONERS – Believe it or not, couples were 41% less likely to divorce if they took a honeymoon as compared to those who did not. My takeaway: Increase your odds of staying married by leaving money in the budget for a honeymoon.
INCOME – Couples’ annual household income played a significant role in their odds of remaining married. The study implied that the more money couples made, the greater their odds of staying married. Specifically, compared to couples who made $25k or less a year, couples who made a combined $125k+ were 51% less likely to divorce and couples who made a combined $25k to $125k were on average 36% less likely to divorce.
RELIGION – Couples who never went to church (or other houses of worship) were almost 50% more likely to divorce than couples who regularly attended services together.
SUPERFICIAL PRIORITIES – If a partner’s looks and/or wealth were major considerations when getting engaged and married, the couple’s future outlook was not so bright. Compared to couples who were not focused on looks and/or wealth, if one partner prioritized their mate’s wealth, their odds of divorce increased by 18%. Shockingly, if one partner prioritized their mate’s looks, their odds of divorce increased by 40%!
Correlation = Causation
Olson concluded his summary of the research by suggesting it’s important to, “keep in mind that these are all correlations with marriage stability, and they could be telling us any number of things. For example, the “how much money you make” correlation could go either way: Either people in stabler marriages are more likely to have a higher income, or couples with a low income could be more likely to divorce.” He went on to say the explanations of the factors were his own interpretations of the research and that the reader should, “keep an open mind when thinking about what could really be driving the correlations with marriage stability.”
Regardless of which factors lead a couple to divorce, one thing is certain – divorce mediation is a positive predictor of an efficient process and expedited resolution. For the past eight years I have exclusively practiced family mediations, following my 18-year career in litigation. I look forward to applying my combined experience and expertise to help you and both parties remain focused on the objectives until an amicable outcome is achieved. To learn more and catch up on my monthly newsletters, visit www.SFdivorcemediations.com.
Sixth District Court of Appeal Opens its Doors
Implemented on January 1, 2023:
- The First DCA is now composed of the First, Second, Third, Eighth and 14th circuits
- The Second DCA is now composed of the Sixth, 12th and 13th circuits
- The Third and Fourth DCAs remain unchanged
- The Fifth DCA is now composed of the Fourth, Fifth, Seventh and 18th circuits
- The Sixth DCA is now composed of the Ninth, 10th and 20th circuits
In November the Florida Supreme Court issued Administrative Order AOSC22-81, which outlined the transfer protocols in preparation of launching the Sixth DCA. This order called for:
- The First DCA to transfer any pending appeals from the Fourth Judicial Circuit to the Fifth DCA
- The Second DCA to transfer any pending appeals from the 10th and 20th judicial circuits over to the Sixth DCA
- The Fifth DCA to transfer any pending appeals from the Ninth Judicial Circuit to the Sixth DCA