Children Keep A Marriage Strong, Unless We’re Talking Step-Children

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step-childrenChildren have long been touted as the glue that can sometimes keep a union together, as well as the stress that can quickly break a partnership in half. It may be easy to envision a lifetime with someone when all is rosy and everyone is sleeping solidly through the night. But once the babies come and your partner is dealing with explosive diarrhea on three hours of a sleep, marriages and commitments are truly tested. Yet while raising a baby together can potentially cement a bond, the introduction of step-children can statistically pull that union apart.

Some numbers out of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirm a lot of what we already know about modern marriage. After surveying 22,682 Americans between the ages of 15 and 44, while also comparing the data of six other surveys dating back to 1973, only the wealthy and educated are currently getting married. Their unions are lasting longer than their uneducated, less wealthy counterparts. More people than ever are having babies out of wedlock.  More couples are choosing to live together rather than marry and the average age for marriage in the United States is 26 for women and 28 for men. CDC also notes that couples tend to be moving towards marriage once they’ve reached economic stability.

But with regard to who ultimately signs divorce papers, blended families don’t seem to have a strong track record. Msnbc reports that not only is a previous divorce an indication that divorce is on the horizon, but so are those step-sons and step-daughters:

Another possible predictor of a shortened wedded bliss: marrying someone who already has kids. Looking only at women in a first marriage, just 37 percent of those marrying a man with kids made it to their [20th] platinum anniversary as compared to 54 percent of those who wed a man with no children.

Still, children may indeed be the glue that keeps people together – if they’re conceived and born after the couple marries.

Among women who remained childless just 50 percent reached their platinum anniversary as compared to 77 percent of those who bore children at least 8 months after getting married.

The numbers read most  alarming considering that we increasingly live in an era of the insta-family, in which instantly becoming a step-mother or step-father is implicit in saying “I do.” The wholesome Brady Bunch may have been a long time ago, but the modern family has since shifted to reflect a similar model with not so wholesome divorce rates.