February 23, 2010...10:24 am

Is the success of marriage a science?

Just a quick note today – I’m in the midst of packing up our apartment as we’re moving in two days. We’re only moving two blocks north, but that doesn’t make things any easier. Packing is packing is packing and I’m really behind.

So, with no further ado – I ask you – if you could plug your statistics and that of your partner into a computer and you could be told what your chances were for divorce, would it impact your decision to marry? Here, at Divorce360.com, you can do just that. I plugged in my stats and was told that:

People with similar backgrounds who are already divorced:  19%
People with similar backgrounds who will be divorced over the next five years:  16%

When I plugged in Jim’s stats, his number were different, proving he has a much lower chance of getting divorced than I do. Wait, what?

Anyhow, I found this interesting. Had I taken this test when I was wildly in love and trying to decide whether to marry, the numbers wouldn’t have changed my decision. Had our marriage been given a 99% chance of failure, I’ve got enough of a romantic streak that I would have convinced myself that Jim and I were that lucky 1%.

There was no question on the test that asked, “Are you under duress because you’re moving?” That might have made our numbers go through the roof.

Let us know what you think!

- Robyn Okrant


  • Hi, I appreciate your blog! Found it on Yahoo when I was looking for wedding invitations.

  • Obviously this is as meaningful, and fun, as the typical Ladies Home Journal two minute quiz. I also ended up with “not applicable” on the question of what my odds are of getting divorced in the next five years. Does that mean there’s no chance of a divorce? I assume then they’d actually give me a percentage. Or, more chillingly, does it mean that we’re so old we can’t be counted on to even live another five years so who cares what our divorce probability would be? Funny.

  • I don’t think the stats they are asking for on that test are specific enough to determine marriage success.

    We did counseling with the Catholic church and with our Presbyterian minister before marrying. Both were requirements to have the church wedding attended by a Priest. The best test we took was the Myers-Briggs Personality Type Indicator (we did this one with the Presbyterian). We found our personalities to be opposite and were assured by our minister that this was a good thing and that personalities that are a compliment to each other make a stronger bond when there is understanding about the other. We had to do other exercises about goals and expectations which were very helpful. It also helped with that premarital counseling that the minister knew me well and was a close family friend.

    During the Catholic workshop, it was clear that there were conflicts with the other couples, lots of tears, and possibly some of the other couples may have rethought the idea of marrying.

    • That’s not the first time I’ve heard about conflicts at Catholic pre-wedding counseling. The theme of our junior year of theology was “Loving” – in all contexts, so, spouses, family, God etc etc (this is an all-girls Catholic high school, I am 16 at the time) .

      Our teacher was newly married, and I remember her telling us about an exercise at her marriage prep where each person was given a stack of 3×5 cards. The facilitator asked a series of questions re expectations/beliefs etc about married life. The couples then swapped cards, and the facilitator re-read each question so that the couples could compare and discuss answers. According to my theology teacher: “Several women were in tears by the time we got to the third card.”

      The other place I’ve heard “marital prediction science” happen is years ago at Marshall Field’s (before it was Macy’s). I received a very large bonus, and was treating myself to crystal and china, and rattling off what I wanted of each to the salesperson.

      Across the sales counter was a couple, fairly quiet, watching me order. The woman said “Hey, did your fiancee come with you today?” I looked up, smiled sheepishly and said “Uh, no… I’m not getting a husband…just dishes…” Her fiancee gave me a pretty peeved look; she cracked up, and her look was more like “hmmmm… you can do that?”

      They walked away, and the salesperson said very quietly “After so many years of doing this, I can tell you that many marriages end right here…We can tell if a couple will make it by the way treat eachother during bridal registry…”

      • You go, Ellenpie!

        I registered for gifts at Marshall Field’s with my mom and my sweet, humble grandparents. My then fiancee couldn’t have been more pleased to be uninvolved in the process.

  • I’m trying to figure out what the online divorce calculator is telling me. I got 6% for similar backgrounds and 13% for different backgrounds. So, that means I’m doing just fine, right? I think I’m going to plug in different stats like ellenpie and try and determine the subtext of the quiz.
    Good luck packing!!!!!

  • I cheated and did my parents, pretending they were still married. My mother came back “29% of people with similar backgrounds are already divorced”; the second stat came back “n-a”. My dad came back 27%, so very close, but what I find interesting is that the “Do you have children?” question only popped up after I chose “female” – are they somehow suggesting that the divorce rate for men is unaffected by whether or not there are children? Because (and this ties in with Cathleen’s post about the impact of babies on a marriage) I have at least one friend who waited ten years to have children, and years later, while in the process of getting divorced, sadly remarked that her husband “never fully recovered from the attention the kids took away from him after they arrived – he still resented not having her undivided attention.” :-0

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