No one can guarantee the longevity of a marriage, however, you can play the odds. Researchers studying marriage success rates have found that everything from smoking habits to what state you live in can predict how likely it is that your marriage will last. Columnist Anneli Rufus compiled some factors to gauge whether your marriage is for the long haul—or on the fast track to divorce court. Here is what she found:

 

1. If you’re a married American, your marriage is between 40 and 50 percent likely to end in divorce. The good news is that the the national divorce rate has dropped steadily since peaking at 50 percent in the 1980’s. Tara Parker-Pope, author of For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage” states “The bottom line is that modern marriages are getting more and more resilient. With each generation, we’re getting a little better about picking mates. A different kind of marriage is emerging in this century.”

(Source: David Popenoe, “The Future of Marriage in America,” University of Virginia/National Marriage Project/The State of Our Unions, 2007)

2. If you argue with your spouse about finances once a week, your marriage is 30 percent more likely to end in divorce than if you argue with your spouse about finances less frequently.Is it any wonder that money woes kill marriages? Couples with no assets after three years of marriage are 70 percent more likely to than couples with $10,000 in assets.

(Source: Jeffrey Dew, “Bank on It: Thrifty Couples Are the Happiest,” University of Virginia/National Marriage Project/The State of Our Unions, 2009)

3. If your parents were divorced, you’re at least 40 percent more likely to get divorced than if they weren’t. If your parents married others after divorcing, you’re 91 percent more likely to get divorced.This is probably because witnessing our parents’ divorces reinforces our ambivalence about commitment in a “disposable society,” says Divorce Magazine publisher Dan Couvrette. “In most people’s minds, it’s easier to get a new car than fix the one you’ve got.”

(Source: Nicholas Wolfinger, Understanding the Divorce Cycle, Cambridge University Press, 2005)

4. If only one partner in your marriage is a smoker, you’re 75 percent to 91 percent more likely to divorce than smokers who are married to fellow smokers.”The more similar people are in their values, backgrounds, and life goals, the more likely they are to have a successful marriage,” notes Tara Parker-Pope. From age to ethnicity to unhealthy habits, dissimilarities between spouses increase divorce risks.

(Source: Rebecca Kippen, Bruce Chapman and Peng Yu, “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Homogamy and Dyadic Approaches to Understanding Marital Instability,” Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2009)

5. If you have a daughter, you’re nearly 5 percent more likely to divorce than if you have a son. “We think it happens because fathers get more invested in family life when they have boys,” says Stephanie Coontz, author of Marriage, a History and director of research for the Council on Contemporary Families.

(Source: Gordon Dahl and Enrico Moretti, “The Demand for Sons,” published in the Review of Economic Studies, 2005)

6. If you live in Monroe County, Florida, there’s an 18 percent chance that you’ve been divorced.

(Source: U.S. Census Bureau, 2008 estimates)

7. If both you and your partner have had previous marriages, you’re 90 percent more likely to get divorced than if this had been the first marriage for both of you.”A lot of data shows that second marriages should be more successful than first marriages,” says Tara Parker-Pope. But this statistic is skewed by serial marriers, “and no one has yet found a way to take the Larry Kings and Elizabeth Taylors out of the equation.”

(Source: Rebecca Kippen, Bruce Chapman and Peng Yu, “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Homogamy and Dyadic Approaches to Understanding Marital Instability,” Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2009)

8. If you’re a woman two or more years older than your husband, your marriage is 53 percent more likely to end in divorce than if he was one year younger to three years older.Wide age gaps between spouses can create sexual discord and other disagreements. “Our culture is so focused on personal satisfaction and happiness that some people feel this is a contributing factor in divorce,” says lawyer Emily Doskow, author of Nolo’s Essential Guide to Divorce. “Each partner keeps saying, ‘I know I could be happier.'”

(Source: Rebecca Kippen, Bruce Chapman and Peng Yu, “What’s Love Got to Do With It? Homogamy and Dyadic Approaches to Understanding Marital Instability,” Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research, 2009)

9. If you’ve been diagnosed with cervical cancer, your likelihood of getting divorced is 40 percent higher than standard rates; it’s 20 percent higher if you’ve been diagnosed with testicular cancer.Norwegian Cancer Registry researcher Astri Syse suspects that this is because these two cancers affect sexual activity and afflict mainly young people. Syse also found that breast-cancer survivors, an older group, are 8 percent less likely to divorce than their counterparts who have not had breast cancer.

(Source: Astri Syse, “Couples More Likely to Divorce if Spouse Develops Cervical or Testicular Cancer,” study presented at the European Cancer Conference, 2007)

10. If you have twins or triplets, your marriage is 17 percent more likely to end in divorce than if your children are not multiple births.Multiple births bring money woes, which bring stress. “I always think of marriage as a bridge that connects two hills,” says Brette Sember, author of The Divorce Organizer & Planner. “The bridge might be solid and well-made, but if an earthquake causes one or both hills to shake, the bridge is weakened.”

(Source: Stephen McKay, “The Effects of Twins and Multiple Births on Families and Their Living Standards,” Twins and Multiple Births Association, 2010)

11. If you’re a female serial cohabiter—a woman who has lived with more than one partner before your first marriage—then you’re 40 percent more likely to get divorced than women who have never done so.

Although “playing house” seems like good practice for married life, it can also make living together seem less permanent. “People feel like, ‘If it doesn’t work out, we can just step out of this,'” says lawyer Emily Doskow. Statistics show that marriages preceded by cohabitation have better chances of success when couples became officially engaged before moving in together.

(Source: Daniel T. Lichter, Zhenchao Qian, “Serial Cohabitation: Implications for Marriage, Divorce, and Public Policy,” Brown University Population and Training Center, 2007)

To see the article on which this blog is based see: 15 Ways to Predict Divorce

Andrew G. Storie is a family law and divorce attorney who serves Orlando and all of Central Florida. For more information please visit

www.storielaw.com