Forget the 50% chance that your marriage will end. Your risk of divorce is more complex than a simple coin toss.

Relationships are as unique as the individuals in them.

Some couples laugh a lot while others are more serious. Some relationships are full of affection while others are indifferent. Some couples are best friends while others live separate lives.

All of these factors and much more can influence whether or not a marriage will last. And while many marriages do end in divorce, even more remain strong.

In fact, as people have become more selective and are choosing to marry later, the divorce rate is actually declining.

There are no reliable statistics on the prevalence of divorce within the first year of marriage.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, data from 2011-2015 suggests that about 22% of first marriages end within the first five years due to divorce, separation, or death.

Common causes of divorce

According to research from 2013, these are some of the most common reasons for divorce:

  • lack of commitment
  • infidelity, extra-marital affairs
  • financial problems
  • getting married too young
  • high conflict/ too much fighting
  • communication issues
  • substance misuse
  • domestic violence
  • lack of support from family
  • little or no premarital education
  • religious differences

One statistic that casually gets tossed around is the 50% divorce rate myth. This information has been widely misinterpreted and misreported.

This particular divorce statistic is based on projections from the 1970s when divorces were spiking.

But the truth is that divorce rates have been going down for decades, and the risk of divorce significantly differs according to age, race, socioeconomic levels, and a variety of other factors.

Here are some real statistics on marriage and divorce.

1. Divorce rates hit 50-year record low

In 2019, divorce rates reached the lowest rates we’ve seen in 50 years.

For every 1,000 marriages in 2019, only 7.6 resulted in divorce, according to the American Community Survey data from the Census Bureau.

2. Younger generations are behind the lower divorce rate

According to the Pew Research Center, among adults ages 25 to 39, the divorce rate dropped from 30 per 1,000 married individuals in 1990 to 24 in 2015.

This decline is credited at least in part to younger generations being more selective and waiting longer to get married.

3. “Gray divorce” is on the rise

Though the divorce rate is decreasing for younger people, it’s roughly doubled among U.S. adults ages 50 and older since the 1990s.

In 2015, 10 in every 1,000 married persons 50 and older got divorced. In 1990, this number was 5.

4. Neuroticism lowers satisfaction in marriage

One study from 2020 found that partners high in neuroticism experience lower levels of marital satisfaction. Neuroticism is a personality trait linked to an increase in negative emotions, including:

  • irritability
  • anxiety
  • self‐consciousness
  • depression
  • emotional instability

In contrast, couples high in carefulness or diligence are more satisfied with their marital life.

5. The pandemic affected each marriage differently

The lockdowns and financial and emotional stress of the COVID-19 pandemic strengthened some marriages and weakened others.

According to the 2021 American Family Survey, 42% of married/cohabiting adults say the pandemic deepened their commitment to their marriage/relationship.

12% said it made them question the strength of their marriage/relationship.

6. Divorce risk increases with time

Getting married can come with the risk of getting divorced, and this risk may increase with time—to a point. By the time people reach their mid-50s, many have experienced at least one divorce.

But as people reach their 60s, those who are still married may continue in that stability.

Among adults 20 and older, 34% of women and 33% of men who’ve ever been married have been divorced. Among those ages 55 to 64, that number is about 43% for both sexes.

This number drops to 39% among adults 65 to 74 and 24% among those 75 and older.

If you’re recently married, congratulations. This is a transition that is unique for everyone, but with open communication and attentive listening you can cultivate a healthy foundation for your marriage:

Here are a few tips for newlyweds to consider:

  • talk about finances and chores early on
  • try to spend quality time together
  • express your feelings
  • create a safe space for your partner to express how they feel
  • learn how to agree to disagree with effective communication
  • set realistic expectations for your marriage
  • try to be genuinely kind to one another
  • laugh together
  • gain wisdom from loved ones in healthy marriages

Don’t be fooled by all the hype that half of all marriages end in divorce — the risk of your marriage ending is more than just a simple coin toss. Numerous factors go into whether or not a marriage will last.

Most importantly, love and respect for one another and truly wanting it to work can outweigh any statistics that only look at numbers, race, age, and socioeconomic status.

If you would like, consider visiting Psych Central’s resource page for online marriage and couples therapy to find a therapist that best support your needs.