Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Marriages Last!

I cannot count the number of times I've heard people quote the inaccurate statistic "50% of marriages end in divorce." I heard it from family, friends, acquaintances, the media, even priests and pastors. I've always known that it was a completely bogus statistic. Truthfully one of the reasons I started this blog was I wanted to write about this topic, I've just been too lazy to do all the research. Now with this latest report from Statistics Canada (brief version), my homework has been done for me. Here are some of the studies key findings:
At the time the survey was done, over two-thirds of the 16.6 million people who had married at some point in their life were still with their first spouse. They had been married for an average of 23.5 years.

There you have it, hard evidence, marriages last. Not to mention other factors that point to long marriages:
People who attend religious services during the year, even if only several times, have between a 10% and 31% lower predicted risk of marital dissolution than those who do not attend at all. (This excludes attending services on special occasions like weddings, christenings and funerals.)

This is definitely not surprising, people who have an active faith, will naturally be better equipped at being faithful.
People who do not believe that marriage is important for them to be happy have a
predicted risk of both first and subsequent marriage failure 170% to 330% higher than people who feel it is very important, when all other variables are controlled for.

The inverse is also true, if you believe in marriage, you are more likely to stay married. This statistic underlines the importance of the Catholic concept discerning your vocation; decide if you are meant to be married, or single or have a religious vocation, then commit to it. Don't let anyone convince you that believing in marriage is naïveté. Speaking of being naïve, don't buy the lie that you should live together before you are married:
Living common-law is also strongly associated with a first marital breakdown. In fact, the risk is 50% higher among people who lived with their partner before the wedding than among those who did not. This finding is supported by recent Canadian research which clearly shows that marriages preceded by a common-law
union are distinctly less stable than those that began at the altar, possibly because the tradition of marriage is less important to people who have participated in non-traditional conjugal relationships.

Common law relationships have a tendency to just happen, and they don't have the same level of stability as a wedded relationship where both husband and wife say they are committed to each other from the start. If a relationship starts with this uncertainty, it makes sense that the uncertainty will continue into the marriage. The study didn't compare couples that had abstained from sex before they were married, but this will also be an excellent indicator of the couple's ability to commit to on another.

The study authors conclude:
In general the predicted likelihood that their marriage will succeed is higher for people who marry in their 30s, did not live common-law before the wedding,
have children, attend religious services, are university educated, and believe that marriage is important if they are to be happy.

What else can I say the data speaks for itself? Actually, I'll share two short memories.

Before I even met my wife, I declared that I would never get divorced to some extended family members. They were quick to rebuke me saying I couldn't know. The data suggests you can know if your marriage will last, if you and your spouse are faith-filled and believe strongly in your committment, the odds are strongly in your favour.

Also when I was getting married, the rash of people willing to share their horror stories and bogus statistics was staggering. It's easy to see how a newly wed couple could be discouraged. Again the data says don't be. Rather, be encouraged, making the right decisions will lead to a long and healthy marriage!


fidelity said...

Great point. has this information and more on helping marriage.

Michael said...


You have a good blog, and its good to see some Conservative Canadians! I found what you said about marriage very interesting, and I think the divorce rate is due to our post-modern "disposable" culture i.e if I don't lik something/get bored, I just get a new one.

By the way, my name is Michael, and I am the editor of Western World Politics, an un-apologetically socially and politically conservative blog, which offers opinions and commentary on world and current affairs. We have recently moved to our new address of:

We are currently running an article entitled "Canada; Strong and Free?" which you may find interesting. If you wish to link to us, we always return the favour, as we are keen to build up working relationships and links with like minded bloggers. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at the contact e-mail address on our website.


Michael, Senior Editor, Western World Politics

Patrick O'Neil said...


I just checked out your true marriage blog. I love the latest article on Dolphins. I hope to look more closely at in the near future.


Thanks for the comment, I'll check out WWP soon.


Patrick O'Neil said...


I've checked out your website and read your article on Canada with interest. Perhaps reading this blog will give you something to be optimistic about.

Anyway, it's a deal, I've added a link to your website, and look forward to a link from yours.

All the best.

Chris said...

Hey Patrick,

Long before I became Catholic I swore that I would never get divorced, and it is a belief I still hold dear...even after I married my wife (haha) It is through adversity that we grow strong, and difficult times allow us to appreciate the good times more.

Patrick O'Neil said...


I appreciate the encouragement. I wish you and your wife continued blessings!