Divorce is becoming a thing of the past (hooray!)

Dec 4, 2014 at 8:00 a.m. ET

When a lot of us were merely children who thought of nothing but partying late into the night and living hand to mouth so we could take 25 vacations in a year, we repeated the following mantra to ourselves to explain why we'd have to be out of our minds to throw away our freedom and get married: Everybody knows more than half of all marriages end in divorce. Right?!

We really can't be blamed for our thinking. Since we were tots being shuffled off from mom's house to dad's house so they could — by court order — split the holidays, we have heard that phrase time and again and figured it would inevitably apply to us, as well. Only, here's the big secret we haven't been let in on: This stat no longer holds water. Despite hearing about the ever-increasing divorce rate, it has actually plummeted in recent years.

Since the 1970s and '80s, when everyone's parents seemed to be splitting, the divorce rate has declined dramatically. The stats are promising: 70 percent of all couples who married in the 1990s stuck it out long enough to celebrate their 15th anniversaries — which is up from about 65 percent in the '70s and '80s. Even better news for those of us who exchanged vows in the 2000s: Far fewer of us are calling it quits, and according to data from University of Michigan economist Justin Wolfers, two-thirds of our marriages will not end in divorce.

Hurray! Right? Well, yes and no.

As with most studies, there are a few catches. These findings mainly apply to college-educated couples, who have more success in figuring out a way for both partners to work and share the stress of raising a family and providing for their needs. And although marrying a person you really dig matters, it also helps to get married later on in life and use birth control.

Also, fewer people are getting married. So, you know, fewer opportunities for fewer people to realize seven years in that they married someone they now kinda want to throw out of a window.

That aside, let's focus on the positive — because this is very good news indeed — and it's about time there is a new stat to explain why it seems like 99 percent of my friends are exceptionally amazing at being married and/or just plain lucky.

Out of all of my 30-something-year-old friends, I know two women who are divorced. These women are amazing — one of their spouses was equally amazing and the other was a douche, but you can't win them all — but both ladies were 22 and 23 when they tied the knot. By age 30, their goals and aspirations had changed a great deal, which is to be expected. But what they weren't prepared for was the reality that their partners weren't willing to accept those changes and that they weren't willing to stay stagnant and not change.

Both of these women are now remarried to men with whom they seem more compatible. As for every other happy couple I know — their marriages aren't perfect, but they married at a time in their lives when they felt financially secure and set in their career paths. They seem to understand that marriage is not a fairytale, but kind of like a second career — the best, most fulfilling career you'll ever have.

I also have an impressive number of gorgeous, smart, talented single female friends who are in their late 30s and aren't even in stable relationships, never mind marriage. The difference between them and many of my mom's divorced friends is that they don't feel like they have to compromise in order to have a baby. They don't want to compromise if it means living life with someone who doesn't give them that goose-bumpy feeling — as well as a sense of security — that we all wish to experience and feel we deserve in life.

A lot of us continue to use the false divorce stat excuse because getting married and making a commitment to one person is truly terrifying. You've gone and done what you've been told not to do for so many years — you've put all your eggs in one basket. If that basket breaks, well, it's a lot more comforting to be able to point to data — even if it's false, old data — that says the odds were against you from the start. It's not you — marriage just doesn't work — even researchers say so.

But marriage can work and works amazingly well — for those of us who are willing to take a good, unforgiving look at ourselves and try to fix the parts of us that are making our marriages more difficult. For me, that means trying not to be a selfish person who would splurge on face creams every paycheck if given a chance. My marriage is one of the most important aspects of life — yes, even more important than my pores.

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