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Published On: Mon, Nov 14th, 2022

Is Secularism or Cohabitation Affecting the Success of Your Marriage?

In the United States, the average rate of divorce is currently around 50%. This is true for religious individuals as well, but tends to be slightly lower. Other factors that may be affecting marriage and its success/failure is cohabitation, which has become a common occurrence in about a quarter of couple’s relationships. In fact, around 69% of the population agree with cohabitation. 

photo/ StockSnap

History of Divorce

During World War II, there was a large jump in marriage as a result of wartime enlistments and a rush to get married before individuals were sent overseas. As a result of these increased marriages, when the war finally ended in September of 1945, divorce rates subsequently increased. 

These post-war divorce rates peaked in 1946, and some speculate that it was the result of pent-up divorces that had not happened during the war. Others speculate that increased divorce rates were also impacted by women taking a more active role in the labor force, leading them to be less dependent on their spouse. 

The biggest impact on divorce, and its increase, was the result of the no-fault divorce that was first introduced in California in 1969. Over the next ten years, divorce rates more than doubled in the country. Then, in 1972, birth control was finally extended to unmarried couples. Perhaps correletory to the access to birth control, divorce rates subsequently began to taper off beginning in the 1980s.

Covid’s Impact on Divorce

Following the initial Covid-19 shutdown in the Spring of 2020, divorce lawyers saw an increase in divorce inquiries of 122%. Interestingly enough, during this time divorces did not increase, but ironically decreased by 12%. Although there was a large amount of strain put on marriages, perhaps there was something else at play during this time as well.  

Due to Covid-19 measures that were being taken, there was a lot of hesitancy about the economy, businesses were shut down, and people were unable to work. It can be speculated that the dismal economic outlook for many may have dissuaded individuals from pursuing a divorce, despite the increase in inquiries to do so. 

The true test of the impact that the pandemic will have on marriage has yet to play out, as some states continue to impose Covid-19 measures, and the outlook of the economy continues to be dismal. 

Increase in Secularism

Since 1972, people who claimed that they were not religious rose from 5% to over 25%. This increase in a more secular population was directly impacted by the children of divorced parents. One study found that “Thirty-five percent of the children of divorced parents told pollsters they are now nonreligious, compared with 23 percent of people whose parents were married when they were children.” It is interesting to note that divorce has so significantly impacted religiosity. Whether or not your religiosity affects if you get divorced or not, your divorce affects the religiosity of your children. 

Cohabitation and Later Marriage

More individuals have lived with a significant other than have actually been married. In fact, almost two-thirds of the population don’t see a problem with cohabitation. Due to cohabitation, there has been a continual decrease in marriage rates, as they are at an all time low in the United States. Not only is there a large decline in marriage rates, but couples that are getting married don’t do so until later in life, with the average age of marriage being between 28 and 30 years old. 

Perhaps it is this decrease in marriages that is resulting in a decrease in divorce rates, or perhaps an increase in age helps to contribute to the decrease in divorce rates. Whatever the case, less people are getting married. This has resulted in over 40% of children being born to unmarried women. As we saw how divorce impacted the religiosity of the children, it will be interesting to see how unmarried mothers impact their childrens’ belief systems. 

Final Thoughts

The secularism of society seems to be impacting the marriage rates in society. The measures on whether your marriage will be successful have always been impacted by the age you are when you get married and your education level. 

As more people become less religious, this will more than likely continue to impact marriage rates. Whether or not secularism has a positive or negative impact on divorce rates is another question, and only time will tell if this will impact society for the better. 

Author: Anna Johansson

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