Rush to early marriage feeds Utah’s higher-than-average divorce rate (article)
Someone in a comment thread at the Stuff Christian Culture Likes group linked to this, which is pertinent to this blog:
- May 1st, 2013 Posted in Arts and Life
By Dani Hayes
LOGAN—Utah has a higher-than-average divorce rate compared to the national average. According to a 2009 U.S. Census Bureau study, the national divorce rate is 3.4, with Utah slightly higher at 3.6. The state has a strong emphasis on marriage, largely stemming from the Mormon religion that dominates the culture.
“People gravitate to coupling,” said Brian J. Higginbotham, associate professor at Utah State University, specializing in marriage and family therapy, “and for the vast majority of folks in Utah, that structure which most aligns with their values is marriage.
“The vast majority of people desire to get married,” he said, “. . . and some of them choose to do so at an early age. That’s typically what researchers point to as a reason why the divorce rate is high.”
On average, Utahns are 2 years younger than the U.S. average when it comes to the marrying age, according a 2009 Pew Research study. Because of their relative youth, said Higginbotham, Utah newlyweds deal with unique stressors.
“They are still in school and they are not financially well off, so they have those stresses that impact those relationships, and those factors together are what typically count for the higher divorce rate,” he said. “If you are out of the state, people are increasingly waiting until they have finished school, and in some ways, that offers a couple relief from some of those stressors.”
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly why younger couples are more likely to divorce, but maturity in skills like conflict management and communication—skills needed in any healthy relationship—are often not as well developed, Higginbotham said.
“People who are older and have had more opportunities to interact with people outside of their biological family—like in a workplace, for example—learn to get along with people more,” he said. “Often those skills transfer over to a marriage relationship.”
In some cases, young people may feel pressured to get married, even “settling” because it’s what everyone else is doing, specifically when dealing with marriage-friendly cultures like Utah’s.
… Debbie Taggart is the mother of a single, 23-year-old daughter who attends Southern Utah University. Taggart hopes that her daughter doesn’t rush into a marriage because of the culture she lives in and the pressures she may feel.
“I do think there is a culture to marry sooner,” she said. “[My daughter] feels like an ‘old maid’ and in any other place, she would not even be thinking about marriage.
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