Here is some additional data about divorce in first marriages before moving on to the limited data available about second marriages. Divorce rates are cumulative statistics, i.e., they don’t occur at a single moment in time but add up over the years of marriage and do so at different rates. After reviewing numerous sources, it appears that about 10 percent of all marriages end in divorce during the first five years and another 10 percent by the tenth year. Thus, half of all divorces are within the first ten years. (Keep in mind this is mixing the disparate college vs. non-college group rates.)
The 30 percent divorce rate is not reached until the 18th year of marriage and the 40 percent rate is not reached until the 50th year of marriage!
Thus, not only is the rate of divorce much lower than previously thought but at least half of all divorces occur within the first ten years and then the rate of divorce slows dramatically. Since the divorce rate for women married by 18 is 48 percent in the first ten years and that group, once again, is primarily poor, minority women, the rate for educated couples is much less during those first ten years.
No wonder the divorce rate in Massachusetts is the lowest in the country. We have the highest percentage of college graduates. That explains why I have so many first marriage friends!
Finding meaningful data about the divorce rates for second marriages was difficult. But knowing that the rate for first marriages has been grossly overstated and poorly understood for decades suggested a likely similar outcome for the data on second marriages.
One report indicated that the divorce rate for remarried, white women is 15 percent after three years and 25 percent after five years. This ongoing study indicated a definite slowing of the rate over time but did not have enough years measured to draw more long-term conclusions. However, it did indicate that the same factors with first divorces were at play here.
Age, education, and income levels were also highly correlated with the outcomes of second marriages. For example, women who remarried before the age of 25 had a very high divorce rate of 47 percent, while women who remarried over the age of 25 only had a divorce rate of 34 percent. The latter is actually about the same for first marriages and likely also would prove to be an average of different rates based socioeconomic factors.
Thus, my take on this limited amount of data is that divorce rates for second marriages may not be very different than those for first marriages. So my small sample of friends, who remarried older, had college degrees, and joint incomes, is probably not a distorted view of the success rate of second marriages.