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January Is Peak Divorce Time: 12 Divorce Statistics That Just Might Trip You Out

If you're considering filing...read this first.


When you’re a marriage life coach (that would be me), it’s rare that news of a divorce ever shocks you. Still, I get how and why it caught some people off guard when DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good decided to call it quits, almost 10 years in and right as we were approaching, the year of our Lord, 2022. Per usual, there has been a ton of speculation. All I’m gonna say is marriage remains beautiful, merging two lives is always challenging and before you decide to jump the broom yourself, it’s a good idea to know as much as possible about what you’re getting into — this includes what the stats say about divorce. And intel offers up quite a bit of insight on the topic.

Although I’ve cross-referenced most of these, for the sake of not taking you to a billion different sites, feel free to go here to cite where I’m pulling the majority of this data from. And as you’re going through these 12 points, as a child of a twice-divorced and three-time-married woman, I’ll just say that you definitely should take the decision to get marriedand the decision to get divorcedvery seriously. It ain’t no joke and, contrary to what our culture may want you to thin, it isn’t as simple as…just doing it.


1. 50 Percent of All Marriages Still End in Divorce. Kinda.

Actually, this point is pretty controversial because it depends on who you ask. What is known for sure is, at the very least, about 40 percent of marriages get to the point of standing before a judge to unravel their union, which is still pretty high in my book. I mean, just think about it — 4 out of every 10 couples who pledge “until death do us part” don’t make it to that goal? And don’t get me started on how many people stay yet are unhappy; that definitely takes this up to about 60 percent of marriages not being as healthy and thriving as they should be. It’s quite a sobering thought, once you let it all sink in.

2. First Marriages Typically End Within the First Eight Years, Around the Age of 30 for Most People

So, when do people find themselves wanting to end their marital union? It’s typically around the age of 30 and usually somewhere after the seven-year itch. There is indeed a theory that’s been floating around since forever, that once a couple hits the seven-year mark, all hell can start to break loose when it comes to communication breakdowns, financial woes, intimacy issues, and a host of other things. So, if you are approaching the seven-year mark, my two cents would be to speak with a therapist/counselor/relationship coach — just to be sure that there aren’t any “mouse holes” that need to be “covered up.”

Also, if you are someone who has already been divorced and you are considering getting married again, the stats only go up with each marriage. It’s 67 percent for the second marriage and a whopping 70 percent for the third. My personal take is because a lot of people don’t take the time to take the saying “everywhere you go, there you are” very seriously. Meaning, if you didn’t process what you needed to learn and/or take the time to heal from your first marriage…you’re just bringing “old stuff” into something new; especially if your next spouse is in the same mental and emotional boat as you are.


3. The Average Cost of a Divorce Is a Pretty Nice Vehicle

Cheaper to keep her. You can say about it what you want but two top reasons why a lot of married people find a way to make things last is 1) children and 2) finances. I mean, just paying attention to what Dr. Dre and his ex-wife have been going through is proof in and of itself. And just what is the average cost of a divorce? On average, somewhere around $15,000. Like I said, it ain’t cheap.

4. Divorce Can Put You in the Poverty Level

Speaking of cheaper to keep her (or him), another thing to keep in mind about divorce is it can literally sink you down to the poverty level. This makes a lot of sense when you factor in the fact that the cost of living only continues to increase, making it easier to survive in a two-income household than one (the average annual wage within the United States is $51,916.27, by the way).


5. People Who Make Less Money Tend to File More

Interestingly enough, people who make over $50,000 tend to file for divorce 30 percent less than those who make under $25,000. While you would think that folks with less money would need their partner’s income more, people with more money are aware that they have more assets to lose. Hmph. It’s amazing how you can figure out how to work things out when you really want to, huh?

6. Couples Who Argue Over Coins Three Times a Week Are in Real Trouble

It always trips me out how, when I’m in a premarital counseling session and I bring up showing credit scores and talking about past spending habits, folks act like it’s an invasion of privacy or something. Umm, when you decide to share your life with someone on as deeply a profound level as marriage, one way or another, they are gonna find out all of that info anyway. Besides, better to be forthcoming before jumping the broom; especially since a leading cause of divorce continues to be financial woes.

And, as you can see with this particular point, couples who argue over money three times a week or more need to see a professional stat — including a financial consultant. Otherwise, they are 30 percent more likely to end their marriage. As far as the kind of money fights that transpire most — debt, different ways of prioritizing money, figuring out how each person feels about the other’s income, determining who to give money to outside of the household and whether or not to have children — are all based on where people are financially.


7. 70-80 Percent of Women File for Divorce

I’ve been knowing this for quite some time and yet, it still trips me out whenever I read it. Mostly because the Bible says that it wasn’t good for man to be alone and so God gave him a helpmate (Genesis 2:18-25). So, to process that most women end marriages, that is really something. I actually also read that within the Black community and among college-educated women, the number jumps to a freakin’ 90 percent.

With so many articles about men who feel pressured to get married in the first place (check out “10 Men Told Me How They Feel About ‘Marriage Pressure’”)…let’s just say that I plan to circle back around to this topic sooner than later.

8. Massage Therapists Get Divorced More. Optometrists Get Divorced Less Often.

Reportedly, 60 percent of all divorces transpire between the ages of 25-39. As far as occupations that are more likely to end their marriage, marriage therapists (38.2 percent) and bartenders (38.4 percent) are pretty up there. So are telemarketers (49.2 percent), practical and vocational nurses (47 percent), and flight attendants (50.5 percent). And who is on the lower end of divorcing? Optometrists sit at 4.1 percent. Clergy at 5.61 percent (I personally think it’s higher but…that’s for another time). Surprisingly (at least, to me), the military is 28.3 percent, education is 30.1 and finance is 33 percent.


9. The Divorce Rate Is Significantly Lower When You Have Kids

Whenever people ask me if I think married people should stay together for their kids, my answer is usually somewhere along the lines of, “If you think your kids won’t be affected, significantly so, by your divorce, you are delusional”. Personally, I am a fan of a husband and wife putting their marriage before their children because when kids know that their parents are in a good place, so are they. That said, to divorce without considering how it will affect your children, long-term, is pretty selfish. At this point, about one-quarter of children in this country live with a single parent, the poverty rate of single-mother households is basically 25 percent and, when you get a chance, check out Everyday Health’s “What Are The Effects On Children Of Single Parents?”. It’s quite sobering.

Anyway, I’m thinking that a lot of married people know some of this because there is a 40 percent chance that people with kids will divorce less than those who don’t have them. On the flip side, people who have children prior to getting married have a 24 percent higher risk of ending their marriage than those without kids prior to saying “I do.”

10. If Your Parents Were Happily Married, Your Divorce Risk Decreases. If Your Parents Get Married Again, Your Divorce Rate Significantly Increases.

This stat doesn’t shock me one bit. Back when my late fiancé was alive, when we would have a disagreement and I would be like “So you wanna break-up then?”, he would always — and I do mean, always — respond along the lines of “Why is that always your go-to? Damn, Shellie.” I was wired that way because that’s how I saw my parents handle things. It’s the PTSD of divorce that doesn’t come up, nearly enough. That’s why I get that if you come from a happily married household (like my fiancé did), your chance of divorcing decreases by 14 percent. Meanwhile, if you have stepparents, your chance of divorcing increases. By how much? A whopping 91 percent, chile. That’s…a lot.


11. Divorce Attacks Health Like Smoking Does

I can’t tell you how many times, when the topic of divorce comes up from a client who is contemplating it as I’m trying to get them to get the weight of what they are considering, I will hear “I know plenty of people who did it and turned out just fine.” We’re resilient by nature and so yes, divorce can be survived like anything else in life. Yet again, if someone told you that making that decision didn’t affect them, oftentimes in ways they didn’t predict, they are lying to you — I don’t care who it is.

In fact, it’s been reported that around one-third of people who ended their marriage regret it after the fact. Not only that but there is intel that also reveals that divorce can impact our health in a way that is similar to smoking cigarettes (the stress alone makes this make sense). You actually increase your death rate by 23 percent over married folks when you divorce. Goodness.

12. Marriage and Divorce Rates Are Decreasing

Over the past couple of years, word on the street is that divorce rates are dropping. That would be dope if it wasn’t tied into the fact that marriage rates are decreasing too. Last fall, The New York Times published an article entitled, “The Married Will Soon Be the Minority” that offered up some insight as to why. From a spiritual and biblical perspective, you’ll never get me to cosign on the belief that marriage is obsolete.

What I will say about the current decline, though, is hopefully more people are getting that marriage and divorce are nothing to play with. Both are serious. Neither should be entered into lightly. Both have lasting consequences as, hopefully, these stats have revealed…before any of you consider filing during the most “popular” month of the year — which is now.

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When I was ten, my Sunday school teacher put on a brief performance in class that included some of the boys standing in front of the classroom while she stood in front of them holding a heart shaped box of chocolate. One by one, she tells each boy to come and bite a piece of candy and then place the remainder back into the box. After the last boy, she gave the box of now mangled chocolate over to the other Sunday school teacher — who happened to be her real husband — who made a comically puzzled face. She told us that the lesson to be gleaned from this was that if you give your heart away to too many people, once you find “the one,” that your heart would be too damaged. The lesson wasn’t explicitly about sex but the implication was clearly present.

That memory came back to me after a flier went viral last week, advertising an abstinence event titled The Close Your Legs Tour with the specific target demo of teen girls came across my Twitter timeline. The event was met with derision online. Writer, artist, and professor Ashon Crawley said: “We have to refuse shame. it is not yours to hold. legs open or not.” Writer and theologian Candice Marie Benbow said on her Twitter: “Any event where 12-17-year-old girls are being told to ‘keep their legs closed’ is a space where purity culture is being reinforced.”

“Purity culture,” as Benbow referenced, is a culture that teaches primarily girls and women that their value is to be found in their ability to stay chaste and “pure”–as in, non-sexual–for both God and their future husbands.

I grew up in an explicitly evangelical house and church, where I was taught virginity was the best gift a girl can hold on to until she got married. I fortunately never wore a purity ring or had a ceremony where I promised my father I wouldn’t have pre-marital sex. I certainly never even thought of having my hymen examined and the certificate handed over to my father on my wedding day as “proof” that I kept my promise. But the culture was always present. A few years after that chocolate-flavored indoctrination, I was introduced to the fabled car anecdote. “Boys don’t like girls who have been test-driven,” as it goes.

And I believed it for a long time. That to be loved and to be desired by men, it was only right for me to deny myself my own basic human desires, in the hopes of one day meeting a man that would fill all of my fantasies — romantically and sexually. Even if it meant denying my queerness, or even if it meant ignoring how being the only Black and fat girl in a predominantly white Christian space often had me watch all the white girls have their first boyfriends while I didn’t. Something they don’t tell you about purity culture – and that it took me years to learn and unlearn myself – is that there are bodies that are deemed inherently sinful and vulgar. That purity is about the desire to see girls and women shrink themselves, make themselves meek for men.

Purity culture isn’t unlike rape culture which tells young girls in so many ways that their worth can only be found through their bodies. Whether it be through promiscuity or chastity, young girls are instructed on what to do with their bodies before they’ve had time to figure themselves out, separate from a patriarchal lens. That their needs are secondary to that of the men and boys in their lives.

It took me a while —after leaving the church and unlearning the toxic ideals around purity culture rooted in anti-Blackness, fatphobia, heteropatriarchy, and queerphobia — to embrace my body, my sexuality, and my queerness as something that was not only not sinful or dirty, but actually in line with the vision God has over my life. Our bodies don't stop being our temples depending on who we do or who we don’t let in, and our worth isn’t dependent on the width of our legs at any given point.

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