With a rash of high profile marriages ending because of scandalous affairs, it would seem that everybody is divorcing these days. But that is far from the truth. As it turns out, divorce isn't as rampant as divorce attorneys in Pasadena might believe. Hollywood notwithstanding, Americans overall are staying married, according to a study released last week from the Centers for Disease Control. Even more surprising, the CDC says that infidelity has also been declining.
According to data collected from the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia, in 1980 the divorce rate per 1,000 married women was 22.6%. That number dropped to 16.4% in 2009, down from the 16.9% from 2008. The CDC says the divorce is at its lowest point since the 1970s when the country experienced a boom in breakups.
But don't cast your vote for romance just yet: Experts believe costly legal fees, high unemployment and a sagging real estate market could be the reasons many couples are choosing to stay together. That said, incidences of infidelity also are down, especially among married men. The study found that despite cases like Tiger Woods and Jesse James, infidelity hasn't really increased over the last 20 years. A modest 21 percent of men and 14 percent of women married in the 2000s reported they engaged in sexual activity with someone other than their spouse while they were married. It's a slight dip since the 1990s when 22 percent of men and 14 percent of women admitted to extra-martial affairs.
Financial issues surface again when talking about infidelity.
"After all, if your husband has a secure job or wife has a great health care plan, or your in-laws are helping out with the kid's tuition, you are probably a lot more willing to put up with your spouse's faults and failings now than you might have five years ago," says Professor Bradford Wilcox, who conducted the study and serves as the director of the National Marriage Project.