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U.S. Divorce Rate Continues Downward Trend - VA Rates Among Lowest

PHOTO: The divorce rate in the U.S. is just over 40%, down from a peak of about 50% in the 1980s. Studies show couples with children are less likely to divorce than those without. Photo credit: Shelley Panzarella.
PHOTO: The divorce rate in the U.S. is just over 40%, down from a peak of about 50% in the 1980s. Studies show couples with children are less likely to divorce than those without. Photo credit: Shelley Panzarella.
April 1, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. - The divorce rate in the U.S. continues to fall, but a large percentage of couples still call it quits despite their vows of "for better or worse." The reasons vary as much as the individuals involved, although experts have said there are ways to safeguard a marriage, especially when children join the family.

Marriage and family psychologist Patricia Mackie said babies and kids can bring stresses from a lack of sleep to extra expense and housework, so it is vital for the parents to be on the same page.

"If parents aren't really talking about how they're going to raise their children - if they're not talking about their style, they're not in agreement on what they're doing, whether it's attachment parenting or any other style of parenting - that's very difficult on a marriage," Mackie said.

Another key to getting through those first few years with children, Mackie said, is making sure that dad isn't left feeling like a "third wheel," as can sometimes happen.

"What research shows is that the more that dads are involved - the more they get involved in the parenting and the daily lives of their children, and playing with their kids and their wives all together - the better their marriages are," she added.

While children can bring challenges to a marriage, Mackie noted that couples with kids actually have a lower divorce rate than those without kids.

"One thing research is also showing is that couples that share a family-centered view of family life and value raising children, they're more emotionally invested in one another," she said, "and they're less prone to divorce than those couples who don't have children."

The biggest issue that marriage counselors are now seeing is technology, as more laptops, I-Pads and cell phones are adding distractions, Mackie said, even in the bedroom.

The divorce rate in America peaked at around 50 percent in the 1980s and has slowly been trending downward. It is now just over 40 percent. Virginia's divorce rate is among the lowest in the country, at 10 percent.

More information is available at http://bit.ly/WBQcLZ.

Monique Coppola, Public News Service - VA