The Good News

The Problem

We have a culture-wide feeling of futility about marriage!
For too long, our confidence in marriage has been undermined by persistent misunderstandings and imperfect data.

Everyone thinks:

  • Half of all marriages end in divorce
  • The rate of divorce is the same in the church
  • Most marriages are just so-so
  • Most marriages fail
  • Marriage is complicated/requires rocket science to fix

Divorce is not the greatest threat to marriage. Discouragement is.

The Encouraging Truth

Every one of those discouraging beliefs about marriage is based on conventional wisdom that is not true!

  • Half of marriages are not ending in divorce
  • The rate of divorce is not the same in the church
  • Most marriages are happy!
  • Most marriages survive
  • Marriage isn't complicated: in most cases, small changes can make a big difference.

The New Research

In The Good News About Marriage Shaunti Feldhahn and Tally Whitehead reveal new research demonstrating that most marriages are strong and happy for a lifetime.

For first marriages, on average:

  • 72% of people are still married to their first spouse!
  • The 28% of first marriages that have ended includes those who have been widowed, not just divorced.
  • Thus, first marriage divorce rate is likely closer to 20-25%
  • Even among baby boomers (highest divorce rate), seven in ten marriages are still intact.
  • Second marriage divorce rate is likely closer to 30-32%
  • Among those who attend church regularly, divorce drops by 25-50%!

Most Marriages Are Happy, Not Hard

  • According to many different studies, on average, 80% of marriages are happy.
  • Marriages don't have to be perfect to be happy; most people enjoy being married.
  • Even if not happy right now, there is hope: if those who are the least happy stick it out, eight to ten are happy five years later!
  • Most marriage problems aren't caused by the big ticket issues (alcoholism, sexual abuse)
  • Instead, the husband and wife care about each other and try hard - but in the wrong areas. Or they hurt each other without intending to.
  • More than 99 percent of married people care deeply about their spouses.

Most couples don't mind the idea of working hard at marriage. What discourages them is the idea that marriage itself is inherently hard and complicated, or that working hard won't pay off. If just a little bit of new knowledge can save a marriage, there are a whole lot of unnecessary divorces going on.

In most cases, having a good marriage or improving a struggling one doesn't have to be ultra-complicated or solve deep, systemic issues; small changes can and do often make a big difference. Shaunti Feldhahn

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