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Long-term look at divorce

Just as styles in clothes, movies, food and songs inevitably change over time, so do trends in marriage and divorce. According to a recent article in the Nashville Ledger, some of the changes to divorce in recent years have been dramatic.

The newspaper says that for people marrying for the first time, their unions are lasting longer. First marriages are lasting at least 10 years for 70 percent of men and 68 percent of women.

Of course, as time marches on, some marriages will inevitably end in divorce. For people marrying the first time, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that 56 percent of men make it to their 20th anniversary, while 52 percent of women do.

One of the reasons for the recent improvements in divorce rates, say sociologists published in the Journal of Marriage and Family, could be the increase in the cohabitation rate among people in their twenties. According to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research, in the years 1965 to 1974, only 11 percent of women lived with a partner before marriage. Fast forward to the years 2005 to 2009, and the rate is 66 percent of women cohabiting before taking wedding vows.

Tennessee family and marriage therapist Gordon Brewer says that cohabitation allows couples to develop as a team, but it also gives them each easy access to escape from the arrangement. “Anyone can pull the plug at any time."

He adds that he thinks some young couples struggle to stay in marriages because they place such a high priority on "individual rights."

He said he often sees this trait among people in their 20s and 30s.

We will continue our look at the Ledger's examination of marriage and divorce in our next blog post.

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