Myth 1: Living together before marriage (‘trial marriage’) leads to longer-lasting marriages

False! To many people it seems obviously true; you often hear it said that the commitment to marriage after living together will only happen when the couple know that they are right for each other. Conventional marriage, they say, is much more chancy.

But the facts say otherwise. Couples who lived together before marriage are 60% more likely to be divorced after 8 years.

Data from Central Statistical Office CD-ROM ‘Social Trends’

Myth 2 : Those who divorce learn from their bad experience and marry much more wisely the second time around .

False! It’s another myth that seems reasonable to most people. Surely people will be more mature the second time round and end up in a happier marriage.

But the facts say otherwise. Marriages of couples previously divorced are twice as likely to end in divorce than conventional marriage.

Data source as above

Myth 3 : A divorce is better for the children – the conflicts in a bad marriage are too upsetting for them

False! Another myth that seems reasonable to most people. But the facts are clear: “The outcomes for children in ‘high conflict’ intact families more closely resembled those for children in ‘low conflict’ intact families than those in [divorced] families”. Whilst no-one denies that parental conflict is bad for children, the evidence shows that divorce makes things even worse.

Data, The University of Exeter: Exeter Family Study 1994.

Myth 4 : The divorce makes a ‘clean’ break from conflicts so everyone can settle down and rebuild their lives

False! “The experience of most children whose parents divorce is of increased conflict over an extended period”. The advent of new ‘partners’, conflicts over access rights of the father or mother all mean conflicts can continue indefinitely.

Data source as above.

A nice summary is also provided by the Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University:
“Children whose parents have divorced were on average less emotionally stable, left home earlier and divorced or separated more frequently … The critical thing seems to be children’s awareness that parents have, through choice, separated and for many this means a parent choosing to leave them.”

Myth 5: The children would prefer it if their fighting parents would split up

False! “When children are asked what they would like they almost always say they only want one thing, that their parents should stay together”.

Data source Centre for Family Research at Cambridge University.

We always encourage response to our articles on modern myths. We would be especially interested in any US data relevant to the topic. Feel free to Send your views to NACF

Categories: Myths