The Good News About Marriage, by Shaunti Feidhahn (with Tally Whitehead) - a Book Review


4.5 Stars

December 7, 2014

"50% of all marriages fail."
"Even if you attend church, you are just as likely to divorce compared to those who don't."

Encouraging, right?I have heard these 'facts'. Even discussed them with my husband at times. Then I started looking around and began to wonder, "Where are all these divorced couples?" Out of all my friends who are married, none have gotten divorced. "Is it that we are all just lucky and the divorced couples are all in a different group of friends?"

When I was given the opportunity to read The Good News About Marriage: Debunking Discouraging Myths about Marriage and Divorce by Shaunti Feidhahn, (with Tally Whitehead) I was excited to find out what the state of marriages really may be. Is it true we only have a 50/50 chance to make it?

What began as a simple question "Where did this number come from?", in order to cite it correctly in a newspaper column, became a multi-year research project to find the answer.  Over an 8 year period, Shaunti and Tally looked into these commonly quoted statistics, looking for the sources and data behind the numbers.  What they found was surprising - there was no data supporting the oft repeated "50% of marriages fail"!  Not only that, but going to church really does help your marriage, as do several other factors.

The other fact pointed out in the book, and one I never really thought of, is that the term "second marriages" can also included those who have remarried due to a spouse dying.  Yet, some reports count those the same as someone having divorced first in order to remarry.  The question, "Are you on your first marriage or second?", then becomes a question that will only answer what it asks, which was not whether the person was divorced.  As with all questions, it can not answer more than is asked and you run the risk of making assumptions  by trying to use it for another purpose.

While reading The Good News About Marriage, I would come across things I wanted to share with my husband.  His response usually was, "What is the standard deviation?" Finally I clarified with him that the book was not a book or statistics, but the results of looking at many various studies.  "If you want to know the standard deviations I am more than happy to copy down the many cited sources and you can go read them for yourself."  His point is that sometimes terms like, "more likely", "lower probability", "on the rise", etc. do not really tell you to what extent things are happening.  They could be a difference of 1% or 30%.  Even then, 1% of 5 people is not the same as 1% of 1000,000 people.

Shaunti also found the same thing to be true and touched on it several times.  Newspaper and article headings are written to catch your attention, not to be statistically accurate representations of the background data.

In the end I came out reassured about  marriage, that the divorce rate was closer to 20-something percent, not 50%, and that going to church and having an active spiritual life does have an affect on your marriage.  Even knowing that couples who are unhappy now are usually happier 5 years down the road is encouraging.  "This too shall pass" at work again.

So, be encouraged.  When looking at marriage, it is not a 50/50 risk and there are things you can do to lower the risk of divorce in your marriage.