If You Did This Right After Your Wedding, Your Divorce Risk Is Higher
The first several months of marriage can have a major impact on its lifespan.
No marriage is guaranteed to stand the test of time. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there have been around 750,000 to 950,000 divorces every year in the U.S. since 2000. But spouses split up for all kinds of different reasons, from lack of communication to full-blown infidelity. And while there is no one sign that can tell you that your relationship is heading toward an early end, there are certain factors that can raise your risk of divorce. According to research, couples who do one thing right after they get married are more likely to separate than others. Read on to find out what could contribute to your chances of calling it quits.
You're more likely to divorce if you had a baby right after your wedding.
The CDC released a report in 2012 that provided insight into first marriages between men and women across the U.S. The agency used a nationally representative sample of more than 12,000 women and over 10,000 men aged 15 to 44 from 2006 to 2010 to analyze and release findings on trends and differences in marital status based on a number of different factors. According to the CDC's report, "the timing of the first birth influenced the duration of first marriage for women and men."
The agency found that women and men who waited eight months or more to have their first child after they married had a significantly higher probability of having their marriage last at least 15 years. Women who gave birth to their first child in this timeframe had a 77 percent higher chance of their marriage reaching 15 years. In comparison, women who had a premarital conception—meaning their first child was born within seven months after their wedding—were only 48 percent likely to have their marriage last this long. A similar pattern was picked up for men. Men whose first child was born eight months or more after their wedding were 78 percent more likely to have at least a 15-year long marriage, while those having a child within seven months after had a 55 percent chance.
But having a baby before your marriage might raise your risk even higher.
The CDC didn't just find negative results in terms of premarital conception. According to the agency, premarital birth also had a strong impact on the risk of divorce later on. Men who had their first child before their wedding only had a 48 percent probability of their marriage lasting at least 15 years. And women who gave birth to their first child before their wedding only had a 44 percent chance of having their marriage last this long.
"These findings support other research that show the rise in premarital births is associated with the decoupling of marriage and fertility over the past several decades," the CDC concluded.
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Most married couples in the U.S. wait years before having a baby.
While waiting until you're at least eight months out from your wedding to have your first child is enough to raise your odds of a longer-lasting marriage, most married couples in the U.S. wait even longer than that. Using data from the Census and the CDC, tech company Vocativ reported in 2015 that most couples in the U.S. don't have their first baby until three years after their wedding. But this varies by state. According to Vocativ, married couples in Louisiana usually wait the shortest amount of time after marriage to have kids at an average of 1.9 years. On the other hand, Utah couples are more likely to have an extended honeymoon period. People wait an average of 4.7 years after marriage before welcoming their first baby into the world in this state.
Many young couples divorce early as a result of having children.
The risk of divorce for young couples is highest in the first seven years of marriage, according to John Gottman, PhD, a psychotherapist who has studied the marital lifespan of couples. It is estimated that half of all divorces happen in this timeframe. Gottman discovered that most of the couple breakups during this time were the result of them becoming parents. One of Gottman's studies found that 67 percent of couples reported a decline in relationship satisfaction after the arrival of their first baby, per The Washington Post.
There are a number of factors that play into this marital decline after a baby is born. According to Gottman's studies, these include both parents working harder but feeling unappreciated, the frequency and intensity of relationship conflicts increasing, both parents undergoing changes in identity, and a decline in the frequency of sex.