Marriage Statistics: Do Marriages Really Last?

Medically reviewed by Julie Dodson, MA
Updated April 30, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team
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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the divorce rate in between 2000-2021 was 2.5 per 1,000 population. Although this statistic can seem harrowing, it may be beneficial to note that marriages are a relationship, like any other. They might experience conflict, life challenges, or a change of heart. The causes that can lead to the end of a marriage may be more of a factor in whether marriages last than the institution of marriage itself. 

Many people have successful life-long marriages, whereas others might find that their marriage no longer serves them due to infidelity, a loss of intimacy, or another concern. Regardless of the reason for marriages lasting or ending, it can be helpful to understand the statistics surrounding them. 

Obstacles within a marriage can serve as opportunities for growth

Defining marriage: What is marriage in the 21st century? 

Marriage is a legal contract between individuals wherein they and their belongings are united. Although the dynamics within specific marriages might not necessarily reflect equal ownership due to a prenuptial agreement, the legal aspects of marriage center on the assignment of assets, taxes, credit, and family matters. 

Marriage requires both parties to get a license from the city, county, or state where they live, which is then signed by the clergy or a justice of the peace to declare the marriage legally binding and legitimate. While many marriages incorporate religious ceremonies or celebrations, modern requirements for marriage focus more on the legality of the transaction.

Marriage can take part between people of any gender who are over 18. Those who enter a marriage may be required to file for a divorce if they hope to end the union, which can be expensive, time consuming, and traumatic for couples. 

What are the potential benefits of marriage?

Marriage has benefits in physical, emotional, sexual, and monetary realms, whether it is your first marriage or a subsequent marriage after divorce. Below are a few of those potential benefits. 

Physical health and well-being 

Marriage is often linked to physical health. Married people may be less likely to have heart conditions, high blood pressure, and other cardiovascular illnesses and are more likely to seek treatment for existing illnesses. In relationships, many partners hold one another accountable for self-care and healthcare. In addition, being physically close to others can have profound positive impacts. 

Emotional health 

People who are married consistently report higher levels of life satisfaction and overall happiness compared with people who do not have a spouse. For some, having a committed partner with whom to experience life is a source of joy. For others, having companionship may reduce stressors like financial burdens, high tax payments, or difficulty owning a home. Less stress could mean more well-being. 


Married people may have more sex than their single counterparts. Although long-term marriage might be associated with fewer intimate moments, proximity with a close partner can be associated with more sex than being single. However, if you're struggling with intimacy in your marriage, you might benefit from couples therapy. 

Tax benefits 

For some couples, there may be tax benefits to being married. When married, you may be entitled to tax breaks that single or unmarried people aren't. These laws vary from state to state, but marriage might offer tax benefits during a relationship and after a partner has passed. However, some couples may face a “marriage penalty.” Check with a tax advisor to understand your unique situation. 


Although each couple is different, many people live together when they get married. Having a partner you're around most days can be exciting, and you may enjoy companionship and closeness you didn't have before living together. In addition, long-term marriage can come with a sense of assurance and friendship, which might deepen and intensify over time as compared to earlier phases of a relationship. 


How many people get married? 

In 2019, studies found that 53% of US adults were married, with 9% of couples living together and 38% of the population identifying as single. Men were found more likely to be single than women, which changed from statistics 10 to 30 years ago. In addition, the average age that people have their first marriage in the US is 28 for women and 30.6 for men. 

Although the ages at which people are getting married are growing, the rate at which people are getting married is lowering, with fewer people deciding to get married in the 21st century. This factor may be due to a push for gender equality, a lack of interest in marriage, or more unique relationship dynamics, like polyamory. 

How common is divorce?

Divorce rates vary from community to community and differ in age groups. For example, older populations, including those over 50, have a higher chance of divorce than younger ones. In 2023, studies have found that the rate of divorce in the US is about 35% to 50% for first-time marriages and over 60% to 70% for second, third, or fourth marriages and beyond. The highest divorce rates in the country were in Nevada, Oklahoma, and Wyoming. 

Couples might feel relieved that fewer divorces have occurred since the Covid-19 pandemic. According to a 2020 study, the top five reasons given for divorce were: 

  • Lack of commitment
  • Infidelity
  • Conflict
  • Regretting marriage
  • Financial problems

Obstacles within a marriage can serve as opportunities for growth

What factors encourage longer-lasting marriages?

You're not alone if you want a long-lasting marriage with your spouse. Long-lasting marriages are possible, and many couples stay together for 20 years or more and feel content with their marriage. Below are a few ways you might be able to encourage growth with your spouse. 

Positive feelings and emotional control

One factor in marital satisfaction is emotional control and expressing positive feelings. A 2014 study found that spouses who had been together for a more extended period had higher marital satisfaction when they could individually control emotions and positively spin negative situations after a conflict or setback. Constructive communication was also noted in the study as a significant factor. 

The origin of your relationship 

The origin of your relationship could also impact the longevity of a marriage. People with a strong foundation of friendship and companionship may stay together longer than those who started a marriage based on passion, sexual attraction, or push-and-pull patterns. 


According to a 2018 study, forgiveness may be an aspect of longevity in marriage. It may also impact mental stability. In the study, 268 heterosexual couples worked through mediation models to showcase levels of forgiveness. Those who could forgive their partners had higher stability and marital quality. 


Making a marriage work can be difficult and requires attention, effort, and sacrifice. A willingness to grow, change, and hear your partner can be more effective than stubbornly asserting yourself in every situation. Couples who are willing to attend therapy when problems arise might receive more support than those who refuse therapy due to stigma or misconceptions. 

Do marriages actually last?

Whether a marriage lasts can depend on the people involved, their backgrounds, and their levels of commitment. For some, challenges like infidelity may end a relationship, while for others, mistakes might be forgivable with time and therapy. However, it might be helpful to note that divorce can be the healthiest option in some cases. If you're in an unhealthy marriage that is causing you extreme stress, you might find that ending the relationship allows you the space to heal and become healthier. 

Despite marriage challenges, 18 to 29-year-old individuals often feel hopeful about the future of their marriage. The American Psychological Association reports that 86% of those in this age group expect their marriage to last their lifetime. They report that education, finances, stressors, and conflict styles may also impact the length of a relationship. Couples who stay together might be more communicative, kinder, and less stressed than those who don't. 

However, if you want to stay in your marriage and are worried about it ending, you might benefit from talking to a professional. Couples therapy can be a way to discuss challenges safely and devise a plan to overcome them. Couples can go to therapy for various topics, including childcare concerns, infidelity, unequal treatment, mental illness, trauma, and other challenges. 

Counseling for married couples 

If you're considering couples therapy but aren't sure how to afford it or where to find a provider in your area, you might benefit from talking to an online therapist through platforms like BetterHelp for individuals or Regain for couples. 

One qualitative study examined couples receiving online counseling and found that their overall experiences were positive. Many clients commented on how immersed they felt in the process, and some couples reported that the distance from their therapist gave them a more meaningful sense of control and comfort. Overall, couples perceive that the online process enhances the therapeutic alliance. 

Online therapy can allow spouses to attend therapy for a single rate using phone, video, or live chat sessions. In addition, couples can meet from two locations if they are long-distance or want to attend therapy from separate rooms or buildings. This feature might benefit those with busy schedules or couples in separation. 


Each marriage can come with a unique set of challenges. However, when challenges occur, couples can move toward or away from each other. While it can be difficult to move toward your partner when feeling emotional, communication, kindness, and forgiveness are aspects of a healthy and long-lasting marriage. If you want support building your bond with your spouse, consider contacting a licensed therapist. You're not alone, and compassionate guidance is available.
Marriage can come with complex challenges
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