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Marriage Length Unchanged with Online Divorce

Ease of Internet Divorce Not Leading to Shorter Marriages

As a long time leader in online divorce, we at DivorceWriter, have a treasure trove of data on the current state of marriage and divorce in the United States. Often times, people mistakenly assume that couples completing their divorce papers online take marriage less seriously; thinking, "only a couple who marries in Vegas on a whim would get a divorce online." Contrary to this assumption, we, at DivorceWriter, through phone conversations and email exchanges, have always found our customers to be normal Americans just trying to find a peaceful way to end a marriage that is no longer working. So when we decided to take a look at our customers' average length of marriage before divorce, we were not surprised to see that the marriage lengths of DivorceWriter customers are similar ro those who filed for traditional divorce in the past. Looking back to data from the late 1800s, the marriage length before divorce hasn't changed much in 150 years!

1867-1886
PercentileLength of Marriage (in years)
25th3.42
50th6.56
75th11.83
1949-1977
PercentileLength of Marriage (in years)
25th3.14
50th6.70
75th13.84
2010-2014
PercentileLength of Marriage (in years)
25th3.10
50th6.41
75th13.75

In 1897, Columbia University political science professor Dr. Walter Francis Wilcox conducted a survey of the duration of marriage before divorce for the years 1867-1886. In one-fourth (the 25th percentile) of all the divorces came within three and a half years of marriage. The median duration of years of marriage before divorce was about six and a half years of marriage. Three-fourths (the 75th percentile) of marriages during this time lasted almost twelve years:

Data published in "Duration of Marriage to Divorce, United States" (Vital and health statistics, Series 21, Data from the national vital statistics system; no. 38) in 1981, shows the first quartile, median, and third quartile years of marriage vary little from those a hundred years earlier:

Almost 150 years after Dr. Wilcox's study, DivorceWriter analyzed the average length of marriage before divorce of customers from 2010 to 2014. A quick glance at the tables indicates that even with the technological advancement of filing for divorce online, the length of marriage before divorce of DivorceWriter customers varies little from that of the late 1800s and mid 1900s:

The 50th Percentile and the Seven-Year Itch?

From 1867-2014, the length of marriages in the 50th percentile lasted between six and seven years. Most people have heard of the "seven-year itch," but isn't this just an urban myth perpetuated by Hollywood in the 1950s? According to www.urbandictionary.com, the seven-year itch is "a point that a lot of couples go through. It is the point when you have been together so long that you are tired/bored with your partner, but you have not been together long enough to have accepted the rhythm that is being in a relationship. Some people miss being single and would like a different partner. Other people just miss the freedom of being single and having no strings attached but they do not want another partner. It is a ‘rough patch' in a relationship." However, experts have given some merit to this concept. According to the seven-year cycle theory of Rudolf Steiner (where humans experience large changes in experience, personal growth, knowledge, and goals every seven years), it follows that these changes might affect the stability of a marriage and increase the probability of divorce. According to Andrew J. Cherln, professor of sociology and public policy at Johns Hopkins University, people figure out their marriage isn't going to work in the first couple of years, but it takes a couple more years to get to the state where filing for divorce is a serious consideration. Those that don't divorce around the seven-year mark may instead, have affairs, become workaholics, or engage in other behaviors that distract them from dealing with the problems in their marriage.

The Three-Year Glitch

It's hard to predict why couples in the 25th percentile have marriages that only last between 3 and 4 years, but perhaps it can be attributed to the "three-year glitch." The top ten reasons attributed to marriages lasting only three years or so are usually credited to the following reasons for one of the spouses to justify ending the marriage:

  1. One of the partners has unacceptable weight gain or lack of exercise according to their partner.
  2. The couples disagree on issues relating to money.
  3. One of the partners has work hours that don't allow for the couple to have an acceptable social life.
  4. One of the partners has a decline in personal hygiene.
  5. The spouses don't agree on how much time should spent with their in-laws or extended family.
  6. There is not enough romance in the relationship according to one of the spouses.
  7. One partner is abusing alcohol.
  8. One partner has unacceptable bedtime habits, such as excessive snoring.
  9. One partner has let their sense of style lapse – someone who used to care about fashion and how they presented themselves, no longer cares.
  10. One partner has bathroom habits that are unbecoming to the other partner: excessive hair left in the bathtub, etc.

Perhaps, those that stay married only three to four years are the ones who immediately know the marriage is not going to last, and instead of dragging it out, just file for divorce right away. Psychology professor Dr. Larry A. Kurdek, from Wright State University, surveyed 522 couples once a year over the first decade of their marriages to observe how marital quality changes over time. He found that "at the start of a relationship you can overlook the fact that [your spouse] throws his socks around or that she leaves the refrigerator door open. Over time, a sense of reality sets in. You'd started off making excuses for your partner. Then you don't. It's a natural evolution."

The Twelve-Year Ache and Divorce

Looking at the 75th percentile of the length of marriages before divorce from the late 1800s to that of 2014, the rage is between just under 12 years to just over 13 years. Results of a study carried out by Grant Thornton suggests that couples that break up around the twelve year mark do so for reasons such as "falling out of love" or "growing apart."

While there's no real consensus among experts as to the exact reasons the three-year glitch, the seven-year itch, or the twelve-year ache occurs when they do, the fact that marriages tend to weaken in quality over passing years is now beyond doubt. The fact that the people who file their divorce online have almost identical length of marriages prior to divorce than people who have done so traditionally in the past only goes to show that it is the reasons for the marriage failing, and not the method by which one files for divorce.

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