Sorry, southerners. Bad news for you guys (y'all, I guess I should say) below the Mason Dixon line: A new census shows that the divorce rate is highest in the Bible Belt. Married couples in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee, and Texas had higher divorce rates than any other states in the country: About 10 or 11 out of every 1,000 marriages ended in divorce in 2009 in those typically conservative states. That's higher than the national average (9.2) and way higher than the Northeast rate of 7.2.
There are a few theories as to why divorce is more prominent in the South ...
The first reason researchers believe more southerners are calling it quits is because they got married at a younger age. Religious beliefs and cultural influences may have led men and women to tie the knot in a hurry, regardless of how well they know one another. We all know that it really takes time to get to know someone, and rushing to marry someone you haven't fully understood is an easy way of ensuring divorce.
The analysis also says that education plays a role. The less educated a woman is, the more likely she is to jump into a (ultimately failed) marriage. With fewer resources and less to fall back on, women with a high school education or less might find security in a marriage, only to find out later they've made a huge mistake.
So we've got a few options here if we want to make our relationships and marriages stay strong for the long haul. We could all move to the Northeast (hey, who knows, maybe it has nothing to do with age and education and all to do with humidity and cicadas). We could raise the legal-limit on marriage from 18 to 25 (although truth be told, 25 still seems too young -- I'd raise it to 30, but I know not many people would agree with me here on that). Or we could reform public schools and ensure that every girl and boy gets a solid education and pursues higher learning of some sort before being able to walk down the aisle. School is the best tool I think we've got. Since faith hasn't been keeping couples together, maybe a different approach could work.
What do you think?
Photo via banjo j/Flickr