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Marriage statistics, separation & infidelity statistics

This page provides many statistics on marriage and separation, including how many people are or have been married, how often people marry, how long they stay married, when they remarry...

The following statistics (except for Infidelity statistics) are taken from a 2002 publication of the U.S. Census Bureau: Number, Timing, and Duration of Marriages and Divorces: 1996, by Rose M. Kreider and Jason M. Fields. As the title indicates, it is based on 1996 Census data.

Incidence of marriage:

69 percent of men and 76 percent of women age 15 and over had been married at least once.

This means that 31 percent of men and 24 percent of women age 15 and over had never married. This covers broad disparities by age group:
- Among teenagers (age 15 to 19), 99 percent of males and 97 percent of females were never married.
- For people age 50 and over, only a small proportion of
men and women had never married, 5 percent or less.

Most adults have married only once.

- 54 percent of men and 60 percent of women had married once,
- 13 percent of men and women had married twice,
- 3 percent had married three or more times.

Most people who had ever divorced are currently married.

- In 1996, 20 percent of men and 22 percent of women age 15 and over had ever been divorced.
- Less than half were still divorced (8 percent of men and 10 percent of women).
- The percent ever divorced was highest among men 40 to 59 years old (35 percent) and among women 40 to 49 years old (37 percent).

Widowed statistics

The percent of adults in 1996 who had ever been widowed was higher for women than for men (12 versus
4 percent), reflecting the higher mortality rates for men.

Most women age 70 and over in 1996 had been widowed (58 percent), compared with only 25 percent of men age 70 and over.

Most people in this age group who had experienced widowhood were currently widowed (19 percent of men
and 55 percent of women).

Differences in spousal ages

Women are 2.5 years younger than their husbands, on average.

For first marriages, an increased percentage of women are the same age or older than the men they marry. About 38 percent of women in their first marriage, who married between 1945 and 1964, were the same age or older than their husbands, compared with 48 percent of currently married women in their first marriage who married between 1970 and 1989.

Spouses in their second marriages are about twice as likely to have at least a 5-year age gap as people in their first marriage, 40 percent and less than 20 percent

Duration of marriage and separation

First marriages which end in divorce last 7 to 8 years, on

The median number of years a first marriage lasted
which ended in divorce was about 8
years for men and women overall.

The median time from marriage to separation was shorter, at about 6.6 years with about 1 year between
separation and divorce.

Half of those who remarry after a divorce from a first
marriage do so within about 3 years.

Half of the men and women who remarried after divorcing
from their first marriage did so in about 3 years.

The median duration of second marriages that ended in divorce was shorter than for first marriages ending in divorce. The median duration for these marriages was
about 7 years for men and women.

Infidelity statistics

There are very clear limitations to what infidelity statistics can tell us: we do not know how honest the respondents are, whether they claim to not have affairs out of shame, or boast of affairs they didn't have.

Keeping in mind these limitations, here are some infidelity statistics provided by Associated Press a few years ago.

- 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women admitted to having sexual relations outside their marriage sometime in their past.

- 70 percent of married women and 54 percent of married men did not know of their spouses' extramarital activity.

- 17 percent of divorces in the United States are caused by infidelity.

See also:

- Why couples fight: Four common marriage problems. How to fix & save your marriage

- Can separated couples reconcile & reunite? Five steps to marriage separation reconciliation

- Healthy conflict resolution: How to manage conflict and (lack of) communication in your marriage relationship

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