Shocking Study Shows Southerners Don’t Know How to Keep Marriage Alive

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divorceSorry, 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

commitment, divorce

25 Comments

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momof... momof030404

You drew ALL of that from a statistical difference of less then a full percentage point? Really? LOL mmkay

Tempe... TempestRayne

I think that requiring classes and droppung the idea of "one hour wedding chapels" (no joke, my.first marriage was.done in one), would.go alot further than most of those other options. It is too easy to get marrried, and only marginally harder to het divorced. I apolologize for any typos, the text isn't showing on my phone screen

nonmember avatar jessica

So getting married young means divorce? god 60 years ago it'd be expected ppl were married what we now term young. I'm more curious about the POVERTY that strickens those states??? I'm do tired of people trying to say Southerners are a "bunch of uneducated, crazy right wing religious nut jobs."I'm willing to bet the higher poverty rates have more to do with divorce rates than ANYTHING you've said up there.

nonmember avatar Mike

more people get married in the south instead of just sleeping with everyone like they do up north. Since they get married younger - you could expect a much higher percentage to get divorced - but they don't. Instead, just a very small percentage. WOW. This story is a NON-story. Why didn't you find out how many married couple there were PER-CAPITA??? That would show, I'm sure that the "successful marriage rate" is twice what it is in the north. Wanna bet?

nonmember avatar ChugganothaBoss

Garbage. Im an 6'2" aerospace engineer from the "uneducated and fat south." I have a mixed family, many of my friends do, I live in a mixed neighborhood, like most southern cities(unlike segregated Boston and Providence). Having lived up north, "YOU GUYS are the race obsessed foofoo racists with your segregated cities. The divorce rate is higher here due to poverty, something big agricultural companies based in the North caused by importing near slave labor from Mexico for "jobs Americans wont do" for six bucks an hour. You big city folks are the problem, I wish you would keep you Iphone and globalism, let us secede and keep the food, see what you do then you bigoted fascist eugenics supporting atheist scumbags.

nonmember avatar ChugganothaBoss

Garbage. Im an 6'2" aerospace engineer from the "uneducated and fat south." I have a mixed family, many of my friends do, I live in a mixed neighborhood, like most southern cities(unlike segregated Boston and Providence). Having lived up north, "YOU GUYS are the race obsessed foofoo racists with your segregated cities. The divorce rate is higher here due to poverty, something big agricultural companies based in the North caused by importing near slave labor from Mexico for "jobs Americans wont do" for six bucks an hour. You big city folks are the problem, I wish you would keep you Iphone and globalism, let us secede and keep the food, see what you do then you bigoted fascist eugenics supporting atheist scumbags.

Robert Oldfoxbob Hersh-Geer

So what else is new....the religious right has been screaming agains gay marriage so that the gays can not have happienss like they dont.  What they need to do is out law divorce for Christian fundalmentalist and their kind. Let gays get married and be happy for a change.

nonmember avatar Jose Chung

@Chris Harlos: So part of your stated prejudice against southerners is that they are bigots? Interesting.

amyca... amycal420

I'm from the south and there are a lot of "religious" (most are hypocrits bc if you don't go to church down here in AL then they think your the devil, they even ask when applying for jobs where you go to church..its sad) people here who get married and divorced but I'm not religious and I'm very happily married with 3 children. If they weren't so worried about building churches every 2 ft we could have businesses and not be such a poor state. The churches buy all the land and we can't have any good businesses here. This state needs serious help and about 1,000,000,000 less churches so people can be themselves and be happy instead of living a lie and we could actually make money to make this place a better state! Happy people would prob make for a smaller divorce rate too :)

Hayde... HaydensMom178

First of all, if you're so concerned with keeping the divorce rate low, perhaps see about taking away no-fault divorce?  That sounds like a pretty good solution to me!  Second of all, you obviously want a communist country here-raising the age to 25 or even 30?  Everyone HAS to go to college before they get married?  Who's going to pay for everyone's college educations?  You? 


I don't buy these so-called studies-they only conclude the opinion of the person who's paying for it (what's PC).  Also, don't pigeonhold anyone-you don't know what goes on with anyone else's marriage.


I knew my husband for 5 years when we get married (I was 19, he was 23).  I was a high-school graduate.  He's a high school graduate and had been working at his trade for 5 years.  We've now been married for 5 years, and I've never regretted it.  I didn't do it for security-I married him before I love him and wanted to spend the rest of my life with him and vice versa.  I find it offensive that you believe that women who haven't gone to college aren't "educated" enough to make a decision about who or whether to marry.  When you're 18, you become responsible for your own actions-whether you're in college, haven't gone, or are done makes no difference.

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