I recently heard someone talking about how their satisfaction with their current car doesn’t last very long before they start wanting to upgrade or go from a luxury sedan to an SUV to a sports car to a fancier sports car, etc. By nature, some people are always looking to trade up, thinking there is something or someone better out there.
Take for example Zsa Zsa Gabor, who was married nine times. After a succession of marriages that lasted from one day to one year to five years – including marrying twice in the same year and once just six days after a divorce – Ms. Gabor was wed to German-American businessman Frédéric Prinz von Anhalt in 1985 and remained married to him until her death in 2016.
Other members of the serial remarriage club include Elizabeth Taylor, Larry King (married twice to one woman), Lana Turner and Mickey Rooney, all of whom were married eight times. Richard Pryor was married seven times to five women, two of whom he married twice. Nicolas Cage, Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, George Foreman and Kenny Rogers each married five times, and Billy Joel, Christie Brinkley, Melanie Griffith (married twice to Don Johnson), Geena Davis and Lisa Marie Presley each had four marriages.¹
How Well Marriages Fare After a First Divorce
This month Forbes Advisor published, “Revealing Divorce Statistics In 2024.”² The article states that 64% of men and 52% of women who remarried after a first marriage find themselves divorced again.
A further look at these statistics by Pew Research Center³ reveals that of all new marriages, a total of 40% include a partner who is remarrying, with 20% involving one party who has been married before and 20% involving two parties who have previously been married.
So how successful are subsequent marriages?
Accepting that the national divorce rate for first marriages hovers around 50%, according to Forbes, second and third marriages fail at a notably higher rate. They place the divorce rate of second marriages at 67% and third marriages at a whopping 73%.
Three of the reasons these divorce rates are higher than first marriages are:
Marrying on the rebound – Jumping from a failed marriage into a new relationship that leads to marriage often has disaster written all over it. Factors that affect the likelihood of a successful second, third, etc. marriage include:
- Whether or not the recently divorced party has had time to process their divorce and properly heal
- If they are remarrying to spite their ex-spouse
- If they are of a dependent nature and expect unconditional emotional and/or financial support from their new spouse
Family dynamic – Children, typically the result of a first marriage for both parties, are often the glue that helps hold a successful marriage together. If the parents have a genuine commitment to making their marriage work “for the sake of the children,” they have a higher chance of staying together. In the absence of shared children, the desire to keep the family intact lessens the stakes and makes for an easier and less complicated out of the marriage. Further, having to adjust to a new spouse’s children and the relationship between them and vice versa can be stressful and actually a destabilizing factor in the marriage.
Ignorance is bliss – It is not uncommon for a divorced party to be in denial over the reasons their first marriage failed, especially if they are eager to find a new partner. Without a deep dive into and acknowledgment of the whys and what ifs of the unsuccessful union, the same patterns may repeat themselves in a new marriage.
Multiple Marriages on the Rise
The Pew Research Center’s data addresses the two primary reasons why people are remarrying at higher rates than ever before:
- The rise in divorce rates has made more Americans available for remarriage
- The rising population of older adults, “not only increases the number of widows and widowers available to remarry, (but also) means people quite simply have more years in which to make, dissolve and remake unions.”
Other facts and figures presented by Pew Research Center include:
- The common belief that American men who remarry are especially likely to marry a younger woman is largely true. “Some 20% of men who are newly remarried have a wife who is at least 10 years their junior, and another 18% married a woman who is six to nine years younger. By comparison, just 5% of newlywed men in their first marriage have a spouse who is 10 years younger, and 10% married a woman who is six to nine years younger.”
- Recently remarried women on the other hand are less likely to marry younger men. “Just 5% of remarried women have a husband 10 or more years younger, compared with 1% of wives in their first marriage. And 6% of remarried wives have a husband six to nine years their junior, compared with 2% of wives in their first marriage.”
Specific to those who have married three or more times:
- 33% are ages 55+
- 25% are ages 45 to 55
- 10% are ages 35 to 44
- 1% are ages 25 to 34
- 0% are ages 18 to 24
- 9% have high school diplomas
- 5% have a bachelor’s degree or higher
Mediation in Divorce
Whether your client is going through a divorce for the first or ninth time, the needs of both parties remain largely the same – confidentially, privacy, control, an expeditious process and an amicable outcome. For the past nine years I have exclusively practiced family mediations, following my 18-year career in litigation. Attorneys and clients can count on my expertise to bring creative solutions to the table that lead to agreeable outcomes for both parties.
Did You Know
While we think of the United States as having an excessively high rate of divorce, there are 20 other countries around the world with even higher rates. According to the latest numbers from WiseVoter.com⁴, the global divorce rate is 1.67 per 1k.
The top ten highest divorce rates around the world are:
- Maldives at 5.5 per 1k
- Guam at 4.3 per 1k
- Russia at 3.9 per 1k
- Moldova at 3.8 per 1k
- Belarus at 3.7 per 1k
- China at 3.2 per 1k
- Aruba at 2.9 per 1k
- Georgia at 2.9 per 1k
- Ukraine at 2.9 per 1k
- Costa Rica at 2.8 per 1k
Falling in at number 21 is the United States at 2.3 per 1k
On the flip side, countries with the lowest divorce rates are:
- Vietnam at 0.2 per 1k
- Sri Lanka at 0.2 per 1k
- Peru at 0.2 per 1k
- Saint Vincent and the Grenadines at 0.4 per 1k
- Malta at 0.5 per 1k
- South Africa at 0.6 per 1k
- Ireland at 0.6 per 1k
- Guatemala at 0.6 per 1k
- Venezuela at 0.7 per 1k
- Uruguay at 0.7 per 1k
Factors cited that contribute to the different divorce rates around the world include, “cultural beliefs, religion, and economic stability.” More developed countries tend to have increased rates of divorce due to (1) a trend in higher education and (2) greater financial stability which makes it easier for couples to divorce with decreased financial blowback.
Cultural values also play a major role in divorce rates. “In some societies, such as those found in Asia and Latin America, traditional values discourage divorce whereas countries such as the United States may be more accepting of this kind of separation.” Additionally, religious beliefs often view marriage as an unbreakable commitment, thus making the decision to divorce more unlikely. “Overall, there is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to divorce rates around the world; each country has its own unique combination of social, religious and economic factors that influence how likely its citizens are to pursue a separation from their partners.”