Today, divorce is more socially acceptable than ever. However, that doesn’t mean that the US divorce rate is higher than ever. In fact, the divorce rate is lower than it has been in years. Divorce might be acceptable, but it’s not as common as it once was. Find out why the US divorce rate is changing and how people now view divorce.
The US Divorce Rate Declines
The national divorce rate in the US is lower than it has been in decades. In fact, it’s lower than it has been in about 40 years. For the third year in a row, the divorce rate dropped. The trend of fewer divorces became evident in 2015. In 2014, there were about 17.6 divorces for every 1,000 married women. Meanwhile, in 1980, there were 23 divorces for every married woman. That number dropped to 16.9 in 2015.
When you look at the US divorce rate over time, you can see that the divorce rate peaked in 1980. That year, the US divorce rate was about 40% of all marriages. After that year, the divorce rate dropped. Between 2006 and 2010, there was a 68% chance of a woman’s first marriage lasting ten years or more. For men, that percentage was 70%.
Past the ten year mark, the chance of a successful marriage is less impressive. For a marriage to last 20 years or more, the percentage dropped to 52% for women and 56% for men. However, the US divorce rate statistics are still better than they were in the 80’s.
Acceptability is on the Rise
If you were a logical thinker, then you might argue that the divorce rate dropped because the acceptability of divorce rose. However, that’s not the case. In fact, the opposite is true. The US divorce rate dropped, but acceptability rose. Back in the 80’s, divorce was not socially acceptable. If people heard about divorce, they would often whisper about it in the hallways. Many women were ostracized for divorce.
Now, things are different. People tend to be much more accepting of divorce. For example, the moral acceptability of divorce is up 14% since 2001. About 73% of US adults feel that divorce is a morally acceptable act. Divorce does not have the same stigma that it once did. Instead of hiding your divorce, you can speak openly about it without judgment.
Interestingly enough, the different generations seem to share the same beliefs on the morality of divorce, Between 2015 and 2017, 76% of US individuals between the ages of 18 to 34 accepted divorce. With a similar rate of acceptance, about seven out of every ten Americans between the ages of 35 to 54 accepted divorce. Regardless of age, people seem to accept divorce.
Religion Accepts Divorce
In the past, religion was the biggest obstacle to divorce. Most religions frowned upon divorce. Nevertheless, it didn’t keep people from doing it. There were more divorces then than there is today. However, religious groups now accept divorce much more than they did in the past. In a recent poll, about 51% of very religious Americans felt that divorce was morally acceptable. That poll included individuals who went to a place of worship once a week or more. In the past, such a religious group was more divided on the issue. The majority of religious individuals felt that divorce was not acceptable in any way.
It’s impossible to understand why the religious community now accepts divorce more. However, it doesn’t seem to matter. Before it was acceptable, people still sought divorces. Now that it is acceptable, people don’t get divorces as frequently. There does not seem to be a strong link between religious acceptance and divorce. There must be other factors that directly affect the divorce rate.
Why is the Divorce Rate on the Decline?
If less acceptance is not the reason for the reduction in the US divorce rate, then what is? There is one main theory that could explain the decline. Today, society thinks of marriage differently. Instead of marrying at 21 years-old, people tend to wait. Young adults put off marriage and decide to live together first. Doing so allows individuals to learn more about one another before they decide to marry. With cohabitation, people may be less likely to divorce. They don’t need to rush into a marriage without knowing what it’s like to live with their partner. If there’s a problem, they end the relationship before marriage.
There is another theory. In the past, people thought of marriage as a moral issue. However, today it is more of a legal issue. As such, they might put more thought into it and less emotion. This could prevent rash decisions that once led to quick divorces. When people analyze the legal benefits and drawbacks of marriage, they might consider the ramifications of divorce more seriously.
It’s impossible to say if the divorce rate will continue to decline. However, it is a possibility. It seems as if marriages in the US are strengthening. And that’s good news for new couples.