Couples who marry due to family, social pressure 50% more likely to divorce: study

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Couples who get married due to family or social pressure are up to 50% more at risk of having a union that ends in divorce, according to a recent study from the Marriage Foundation in England and Wales.

The study, "Attitudes towards marriage and commitment," published in October, asked 2,000 adults who had ever married how much they agreed or disagreed with each of 12 reasons presented by researchers for why they got married. To ensure that the findings were relevant to today’s families, researchers then focused on 905 couples from the sample who married for the first time after the year 2000 when online dating emerged.

“What this research shows conclusively is that the reasons why people get married has a significant material impact to whether they stay together. While this might seem obvious, this has never been quantified,” said Harry Benson, Marriage Foundation’s research director, in a statement about the study shared with The Christian Post. “But the message is clear. Get married for love and your future together and not because it is either expected of you or because of family pressure.”

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Respondents who said they “felt they had to marry due to family pressure” registered a significantly higher probability of divorce at just 34% compared to 23% of couples who did not identify these reasons.

“Put another way, couples who tied the knot due to family pressure were 50% more likely to split up,” the foundation noted.

Respondents who agreed that their marriage “just kind of happened” (slide into it) also had a 29% probability of divorce over the duration of the study compared to 22% of those who disagreed.

The findings took into account measures such as gender, age at marriage, occupation, where the couple met, whether they had done some form of marriage preparation or signed a prenuptial agreement, how much their wedding cost, how many guests they had, and whether one of them earned more than the other or was better educated than the other.

Researchers also found that factors such as having an expensive wedding costing more than $22,000 (£20,000), having met online or at work rather than meeting through family and friends, and having fewer than 10 guests at the wedding were all associated with higher risk of divorce in the early years of a marriage.

Individuals who view their marriage as a cornerstone of building a life together generally fared better than those who got married due to social pressure.

“The difference in probabilities is non-trivial. Again taking into account all of the other reasons and factors, [couples who married to build a life together] were more likely to stay together. The probability of divorce for the average marriage in our sample was 23% if they agreed, compared to 33% if they disagreed,” Benson wrote.

Couples who got married to declare their commitment to each other also tended to do better, as did those who married because they wanted to have children who grew up in a two-parent household, but that observation came with a caveat. 

“This latter finding needs to be interpreted with some caution as couples may be staying together for the sake of their children in the short-term but to the detriment of their longer term marriage,” Benson said. "In my analysis of the pre-2000 weddings, I found a statistically lower risk of divorce in the early years but a statistically higher risk overall. The main point however stands. Couples who are intentional about their marriage do better. Couples who slide into their marriage do not.”

Contact: Follow Leonardo Blair on Twitter: @leoblair Follow Leonardo Blair on Facebook: LeoBlairChristianPost

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