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London - Couples who stay married for seven years are likely to be together for good, experts said.
A study found the seven-year itch is a myth, and by the time a husband and wife have been together that long their marriage is increasingly likely to last.
After ten years their chance of getting divorced has diminished to half what it was on their wedding day.
The report from the Marriage Foundation, a relationships think-tank, said couples are most vulnerable to separation and divorce in the early years of their marriage.
It said too many men and women do not choose carefully enough when they pick a partner for life.
And it blamed the rise of cohabitation for allowing unsuitable couples to slide into living together instead of making a firm choice about who they want to spend their life with.
The paper, based on new information from the Government’s Office for National Statistics (ONS), said marriages continue to be much more stable than other forms of relationship. The risk that a newly-married couple will ever divorce is less than four in ten at just 39 percent, it said. A couple are at the greatest risk of divorce after they have been married for four or five years, the report said, and after that their chances of a lifetime together improve.
After ten years, the chance of divorce is down to 20 percent, and only one in 100 couples who have been married for 40 years will be parted by anything but death.
Harry Benson, author of the report, said: “Half of all divorces take place during the first decade of marriage. There is hope for newlyweds, however, in that the divorce rate during the first ten years of marriage has fallen in recent years.
“Changes in divorce rates during the first ten years reflect the care we take in forming our relationship in the first place. Couples who marry today are clearly making better choices, with fewer marriages breaking down in the very early years than in the 1990s or early 2000s.”
The seven-year itch is no more than a myth promoted by Hollywood, the report said. It concluded: “Divorce rates have been consistently higher during years four and five of a marriage. If there were a seven-year itch, we should expect divorce rates to hike from year six onwards. This is not the case.”
The “silver surfer” increase in divorce among older people is exaggerated, the report said.
ONS figures say the number of divorces among women over 60 went up from 3,693 in 2001 to 5,836 last year, a rise of 58 percent. Some analysts believe this is a result of greater health and independence among the baby boomer generation.
But the report said the blip in “silver surfer” divorce was linked to the older ages at which people are now marrying rather than the duration of their marriages. - Daily Mail