A starter marriage is considered a first-time marriage that lasts five years or less. And oh yes, with no kids, there are no lasting ties. By age 30, you are free to move on to um… upgrade. A 2001 survey by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 20 percent of divorces in first marriages occur within five years.
Here’s how to tell your marriage may not be destined to last much beyond the flowers that decorated the reception hall.
1. It’s been downhill since the wedding
Many women buy into the wedding industry machine — inhaling bridal magazines, debating menus, floral options, the playlist and of course finding the perfect gown. The months or years of wedding planning can distract from contemplating what day-to-day married life will actually feel like.
Couples who gloss over serious incompatibilities, their inability to communicate well and/or widely differing lifestyles and aspirations (i.e., one is a couch potato; the other is a party animal) can find post-wedding life a huge disillusionment. Marriage is not an end point, but a new beginning. Know what that beginning entails.
2. You haven’t sown your wild oats
I have counseled many couples who marry fresh out of college, thus find themselves committed to life à deux before they know what it is like to explore the possibilities life holds for an independent young adult responsible for no one but him or herself.
When one or both partners are frequently wistful over what it might be like to take a solo trip to India, work on a kibbutz or have a series of flings just because, these are serious indications that as much as they love their partner, they’re not ready for the commitment of marriage.
3. You walked down the aisle despite doubts
Some young couples marry thinking that saying those vows in front of friends and family will magically transform a troubled relationship into a union made in heaven.
These couples are in for a rude awakening. The first few years of marriage are a difficult enough adjustment when the couple is truly compatible and prepared for the ebbs and flows of a life together. When the major components present for a young, married couple include mutual stress, resentment and a magical belief that a piece of paper will erase problems, divorce is typically not far away.
4. Lack of marital role models
If a young couple marries and their only experience of mature, happy couples is from the movies and television, the odds that they will succeed without a lot of effort are heavily against them. It will require effort they may not be equipped or prepared to expend at this point in their lives.
Children learn by observing their parents. When you observed the people who raised you treating one another with hostility and lack of respect over the years, that is your normal. That is how you will treat your partner and expect to be treated.
Without guidance from other role models, this couple will likely end up in divorce court.
5. Driven by short attention spans
In our Tinder/quick swipe/move on world, it can be hard for a young couple to have the maturity or ‘endurance’ to realize that the first signs of boredom or trouble are not necessarily an indication that they should bail, but rather a sign that they need to develop a tolerance for imperfection.
It feels easy to move on. And it is… in the short run. Sometimes the ability to hang in and fight for something worthwhile doesn’t click in until you have suffered loss.
A quick marriage and quick divorce may seem relatively painless, but no one emerges unscathed. And that pain is often the catalyst for growth and maturity, which augurs well for the second marriage.