The Changing Face of Couples in 2018

The Changing Face of Couples California
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Encinitas, CA – The makeup of the American household continues to evolve as time marches on.

Following are some changes surrounding the institution of marriage that researchers have identified in recent years.

Between 40 percent and 50 percent of married couples in the United States wind up divorcing, according to the American Psychological Association. Individuals who remarry have even higher divorce rates.

Although half of U.S. adults are married, this number has decreased 9 percent in the past 25 years, according to the Pew Research Center. Researchers attribute this in part to the increase in unmarried partners opting to live together rather than tie the knot. It was estimated that seven percent of couples were living together but unmarried in 2016. In addition to remaining unmarried while living together, many of these couples are choosing to become parents.

Marriage is on the decline for those without college degrees. In April, Pew reported the following statistics on the marital status of those with varying education levels:

  • 65 percent of adults who were at least 25 years old and had a four-year college degree were married.
  • For adults with some college education, only 55 percent of them were married.
  • 50 percent of adults age 25 and older with only a high school education were married. This group has seen the most significant decline, as 63 percent of this group was married in 1990.

The marriage rate exceeded 60 percent for all groups 25 years ago.
As overall marriage rates fall in the United States, the divorce rate for older Americans has skyrocketed in recent years. In 2015, for every 1,000 married adults who were age 50 and older, 10 had divorced – up from five in 1990. Among those ages 65 and older, the divorce rate has roughly tripled since 1990, according to Pew Research.

Fifty years ago, 2.8 percent of Americans over age 50 were divorced, according to an LA Times article. These days, that figure exceeds 15 percent, and about one in four divorces involves couples who are over age 50. The trend has become common enough to earn its own name: gray divorce.

Statistics show that the shorter time a couple has been married, the higher the chance of divorce is for adults 50 and older, according to Social Work Helper.

Another interesting change in couples in recent years is the remarriage rate. In 2013, 23 percent of married people were married previously, compared to 13 percent in 1960, according to Pew. Four out of every 10 marriages in 2013 involved a spouse who had been married at least once before, and both spouses had been married at least once before in 20 percent of new marriages.

Racial makeup also is changing among couples. More married couples include someone of a different ethnicity or race, Pew reported. In 2015, 17 percent of couples fit this category.

Since divorce is a part of marriage for many, who’s filing? About 70 percent of the time, divorce is initiated by women, according to research published by Michael Rosenfeld, an associate sociology professor at Stanford University.

Rosenfeld’s findings support the notion that women can find marriage to be “oppressive and uncomfortable,” according to a Social Work Helper article.

That is due in part to husbands expecting wives to handle most of the housework and the childcare, Rosenfeld said.

“The shifting trends of marriage and divorce continue to reflect the changing roles of men and women, as well as the evolving laws that have enabled more people to marry,” said John Griffith, an Encinitas family lawyer. “It’s interesting to see how we change as a society through the decades.”

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