By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
In the market to marry? It's not too soon to head off divorce
Placeholder Image
Institute for Family Studies scholar Scott Stanley finds compelling evidence that individuals can cut their risk of future divorce by what they do when they're single or starting a relationship.

In a blog post, he identifies a number of characteristics that individuals have that are linked to higher rates of divorce. Those include low education attainment, marrying young, being reactive to stress and emotion, having already divorced and being low-income, among others.

He also lists factors for couples, such as having a child together before marriage or religious and racial differences.

His advice for the single but seeking includes take it slow, watch for red flags and do premarital training. "What makes a great marriage is not two perfect people aligning their lives, but two imperfect people transformed by a life of commitment and love," he writes.

The committed life doesn't divorce-proof a couple entirely, he notes. "To really avoid the possibility of heartache and family instability, one would need to avoid love, sex and children altogether," he writes.

The idea of preventing divorce before the marriage vows are exchanged has been around for a long time. That's the underpinning of premarital counseling, often offered by a therapist or clergy prior to nuptials.

The Mayo Clinic describes why couples might seek that advice. "Premarital counseling can help ensure that you and your partner have a strong, healthy relationship giving you a better chance for a stable and satisfying marriage. Premarital counseling can also help you identify weaknesses that could become problems during marriage."

That type of counseling is something that Stanley recommends.

In October, the Council on Contemporary Families issued several reports that looked at divorce and marriage trends. The researchers found more "gray divorce" but lower rates of divorce among others. "Also, well-educated parents enjoy more stable families while those with less education may be plagued by instability.

"Each trend, taken alone, is 'a small bite of the elephant, council co-chairwoman Stephanie Coontz said, "but American family life is contradictory, perhaps best summarized by the phrase, It depends.

Those reports looked at the impact of education, family income and aging on family stability.

Stanley wrote that he will also post soon about how married couples can prevent divorce.