Equipment vs Marriage Failure Rates

The other day I asked my 52 year old husband to research some statistics for a personal risk workshop I’m writing.  A while later he came to me, hard-copy download in hand, and a worried look on his face.

“It says here that 67% of second marriages end in divorce”, he sputtered.  Puzzled, I just sort of looked at him quizzically.  “Uh, yeah… that’s pretty common knowledge.”

“But… that’s worse than first marriages!  How can that be?  Are we doomed?”

John is an engineer by training; he’s spent most of his life in manufacturing plants and traveling the world troubleshooting mechanical & other systems on Navy ships.  His experiences are in what he calls the “hard” sciences; mine are in business and the social sciences.  The statistics he’d just researched for me were confirmation of the exact numbers… I had a good general idea of the trends and patterns, but couldn’t remember specifically what the percentages are.

Reading those numbers worried him.  His engineer’s brain fastened onto that 67% figure – 2/3rds – like it was some kind of statistical failure rate of a piece of equipment.  A two-thirds failure rate in a machine is, of course, disastrous.  The machine itself is likely a complete failure.  Did that mean that marriage itself is a complete failure?

“No sweetie, we’re fine”.  As I’ve tried to explain to him before, with equipment there are only so many variables to address.  Whether he’s troubleshooting a dechlorination system, an anti-fouling unit, a boiler, or even a lawnmower, there are only so many moving parts and so many types of errors or failures that can occur.  The equipment can either be fixed, cobbled together or junked.

But with people, the number of behavioral, genetic and environmental variables are nearly endless. And so, the reasons leading up to failed relationships and marriages are nearly endless as well.  The difference is that people can learn and adapt and decide whether to let all of our many errors and minor failures turn into a large one or not.

John and I are fine.  We will always be fine.

But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded every now and then of the need for a little preventative maintenance.

Soul-Mate Marriages is saddened by the high rate of divorce in the U.S., with even fewer second marriages succeeding.  We recognize the reasons are complicated but believe the trend can be reversed with trust and hard work. 

Neither of us is a relationship saint, but our marriage, the 2nd for both of us, has brought more joy, satisfaction, and peace than we could have imagined. 

We hope our insights will be helpful.

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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Linda – I’m glad you raised some of these issues. This is an interesting topic to me. One of the things that concerns me is whether or not the total number of “marriages” they are using as the baseline includes people that are already on their second third or whatever marriage. What you have presented is unique in that it is the first I have seen that actually specifically references second marriages rather than just saying marriages. IF the 70something percent number we always see includes people on their second and third + marriage then it skews the numbers unfairly – the baseline should be based on the number of people that get and stay (or don’t) married from the first time they are married.

    There was an article about this somewhere a few years ago I think in the New York Times (which was a surprise) which said that if you look only at first time marriages (for both) and remove all of the ‘deviants’ (too harsh I know) then the pool becomes much smaller, as does the number of marriages that end in divorce (not sure why but I assume because most of the marriages ending in divorce were people that had already been divorced a number of times

    who knows I’ll look for the article…

    I’d also be interested to see the numbers by religion, region, race, and age

    talk to you soon

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