3. Facts About Marital Distress and Divorce

Scott M. Stanley & Howard J. Markman

University of Denver and PREP, Inc.

a. Younger people in the U.S. who are marrying for the first time face roughly a 40-50% chance of divorcing in their lifetime under current trends (U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992, p. 5).

b. Of first marriages that end in divorce, many end in the first 3 to 5 years. (As one example, for first marriages ending in divorce among women aged 25 to 29, the median length of marriage before divorce in 1990 was 3.4 years; U.S. Bureau of the Census, 1992, p. 4).

c. Mismanaged conflict and negative interaction in marriage predicts both marital distress and negative effects for children (e.g., Gottman, 1994; Markman & Hahlweg, 1993; Clements, Stanley, & Markman, 1997; Cowan & Cowan, 1992; and Grych & Fincham, 1990).

d. Money is the one thing that people say they argue about most in marriage, followed by children (Stanley & Markman, 1997). But, there is a lot of reason to believe that what couples argue about is not as important as how they argue (Markman, Stanley, & Blumberg, 1994).