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Second marriages are less likely to end in divorce than first

Date: April 29, 2013

Wisdom really does come with age: second marriages are less likely to end in divorce than first marriages, new research reveals


The Marriage Foundation think-tank has produced a report revealing that second marriages are more stable than first marriages, challenging the widely held belief that couples who remarry are doomed to repeat the mistakes from their first marriage.

Almost half – 45 per cent – of all couples who marry for the first time in 2013 will divorce during their lifetime. However, divorced couples who marry for the second time have only a 31% chance of their marriage ending in divorce, according to Harry Benson, Communications Director at The Marriage Foundation and author of the report.

Commenting on the findings, Mr Benson said: “Second marriages are generally more successful than first marriages because couples who get married for the second time are invariably older than those marrying for the first time.”

The report, titled “Second Marriage: Triumph of Decision over Hope?”, revealed that the age of the married couple was the most reliable predictor of whether the marriage would stand the test of time.

The increased affluence of couples entering second marriages was cited as one reason why older couples had a better likelihood of making their marriage work over younger newlyweds.

Other factors that can influence the outcome of a first marriage, such as education and prior cohabitation, are less influential the second time around, according to Mr Benson.

He continued: “Reduced social and family pressure for men who marry the second time around is also a factor in the reduced divorce rate of second marriages.”

For both first and second marriages, differences in occupation, ethnicity and income are all factors that have been proven to increase the likelihood of the marriage ending in divorce, but their influence was less pronounced in second marriages.

Other interesting findings from the report include a gender gap in second marriages, with husbands in particular doing better in marriage the second time around – although the gap is narrowing.

The Office for National Statistics (ONS) does not currently distinguish between first and second marriages, only the overall rate of divorce among all couples, prompting The Marriage Foundation to look at divorce statistics in greater detail.

The Marriage Foundation has previously produced reports challenging other “marriage myths”, including the widely incorrect belief that the “seven year itch” is a factual reality.

Mr Benson concluded: “When it comes to marriage, age is everything. Couples who tie the knot later in life are much less likely to divorce over their lifetime than couples who marry at an earlier age.”


Download a copy of the research report here.

Notes to editors:

For media inquiries please contact Harry Benson, who is available to be interviewed, on 07515 699187.

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