I have heard it said that “Sixty-five percent of stats are not true.” In the marriage and divorce arena, you’ll hear stats all across the board. I’ve read the divorce rate is anywhere from thirty to fifty percent.
Based on the stats, I’ve always heard the chances of a second marriage lasting are dismal and, if a tragedy happens in your family, forget it, you’ll probably end up divorced. If there is infidelity or an affair, the marriage is absolutely over. The divorce statistics don’t lie…or do they?
So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10
While infidelity is heart-breaking, true repentance and lavish grace have restored thousands of marriages. The bottom line is this: you just can’t trust all the statistics thrown around. Don’t be discouraged by the alleged stats.
I have always heard it said that “90 percent of marriages fail after the loss of a child.” Then, I did some research and realized this isn’t a real stat at all. In fact, most of the research shows that the overwhelming majority of couples survive this tragedy and many marriages become even stronger through the trial.
Now, with COVID, you’ve probably heard that marriages are going to fall apart by the thousands. After spending time researching, this isn’t the case. Of course, some marriages are struggling more than others. But, some marriages are actually doing better than ever. The stresses of COVID are real and impactful. But, I don’t believe it’ll result in a mass increase in our divorce rate. The Lord is faithful to sustain and maintain His good plan of marriage.
I believe Satan would love to create a negative self-fulfilling prophecy. He’d like people to think they aren’t going to make it in their marriage, so they’ll just give up. When you think something is not going to work, the likelihood of it working goes way down.
I remember the first time I got to play on the court in my first middle school basketball game. I took my first shot and was certain I’d miss it. Well, guess what? I missed it. In fact, I was just thankful it hit the rim.
In marriage, we need not be discouraged by all the negativity out there. We need to be committed to taking care of our marriages.
- Spend time together.
- Date each other.
- Be intentional in coming together physically.
Then, whatever the negative statistics are, you won’t be part of them. If we are going to be married for the long haul, we might as well try to be our best at it. Life’s a lot more fun when my wife and I like each other and enjoy our time together.
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” —Mark 10:9
A danger of these stats is that they can normalize disfunction. Our marriage is failing, so we comfort ourselves by thinking we aren’t alone and are normal. Like most everyone else, we’ll just get divorced. Yes, the divorce rates are too high, divorce is too easy, and marriage is not taken seriously enough. Sadly, vows become a distant memory when things get tough.
However, we can turn the tide by taking care of our own marriages and encouraging others. Then, the divorce stats will go down. Marriage success can become the norm. Crisis and divorce can be the rare exception. This is the ultimate goal.
Shaunti Feldhahn wrote a book called, The Good News About Marriage. It talks about how many of the well-publicized stats just aren’t accurate. She points out the divorce rate is inflated. Also, if you are in a second marriage, your likelihood of success is much greater than you think. She even debunks the stat that Christians get divorced at the same rate as non-Christians. I recommend her book as it will encourage all of us.
Marriage should be honored by all. —Hebrews 13:4
Yes, it is wise to be aware of risks and to be strategic to avoid them happening to you. But, we don’t need to be discouraged by the negative culture and attitude toward marriage. Marriage is an institution created by God. It is a great gig. I get to do life with my best friend. How amazing is that?
- We cry together.
- We laugh together.
- We have fun.
- We get snappy.
- We have great conversations.
- We offend each other.
- We bless each other.
But, at the end of the day, I know that it is crazy cool doing life together.
Finally, don’t have illusions that it’ll be some perfect ride through life. Hard is not synonymous with bad. Marriage takes work—and that’s okay. We enjoy the things for which we work the hardest. Be thankful for this great institution, take care of your marriage, and don’t pay attention to all the “statistics.”
Brad Rhoads is co-founder of Grace Marriage.