Marriage and Divorce Statistics
In the US, statistically, a marriage starting out today has a 41-43% chance of ending in divorce. However, according to research gathered by Glenn T. Staton, Director of Global Insight for Cultural and Family Renewal and Senior Analyst for Marriage and Sexuality at Focus on the Family, Christian couples who regularly attend church and are in a committed spiritual relationship with God, divorce at a rate 35% lower than secular couples (not connected with religious or spiritual matters).
Upon reading up more about Christian marriage views and statistics from sociologists and religious counsellors, the thing that piqued my interest is not so much the distinction between homosexual vs heterosexual marriage or atheists/agnostics vs evangelical Christian marriage (as those are other debatable topics I wish not to engage in) but really the distinction between the committed Christian and the nominal, luke-warm Christian.
The Christian Marriage
This topic was interesting to me as I had anticipated all Christians to fall under the same umbrella, that is, the same category of 'significantly lower divorce rate as compared to secular couples'. However, what was observed in trends and surveys conducted by various groups of sociologists, or market researchers, is that nominal Christian couples who seldom or never attend church, have higher divorce rates than secular couples.
In order words, the divorce or marriage success rate in a Christian marriage depends on how committed you are, not only to the person you have married, but also how committed the couple is in their walk with God. "Religious commitment, rather than mere religious affiliation, contributes to greater levels of marital success," said Staton who is also the author of 'Why Marriage Matters: Reasons to Believe in Marriage in Postmodern Society'.
In the article "The Christian Divorce Rate Myth" he said that, "Many people who seriously practice a traditional religious faith – be it Christian or other -- have a divorce rate markedly lower than the general population" He explains further that the factor making the most difference is religious commitment and practice.
A Christ-Centred Marriage
There was something our marrying Pastor told Nathanael and I during our pre-marital counselling, which I still vividly remember. He said that love (or marriage) does not consist in gazing at each other, but in looking outward together in the same direction.
Like the image below, our marriage is like a triangle where Jesus is at the top and we are at the bottom. Jesus must first come to us personally and be the central part of our marriage, before we can connect with each other personally. Jesus provides us with the strength, mercy, patience, love, sacrifice, forgiveness, hope and joy that is sorely needed and missing in most marriages. Only through Jesus can we provide those things to each other.
The take home message for me is that being a committed, faithful believer makes a measurable difference in marriage. It is not just about saying you believe in something or merely being affiliated with a church (as surprisingly that does little for marriage).
But it is the action or the intentional effort of being involved in the actual practice of faith in real ways. Through full submission to God as well as to a serious body of true believers, putting time aside to read Scripture together and being in constant communication with God through prayer individually and as a couple and/or family.
It is also being around like-minded people, true Christian couples and families that can challenge you and encourage you to take your marriage seriously, strengthening the bond between the believers as well as with God. By taking our faith seriously, and taking time to read God's word, my husband and I live very different lives, putting our faith as a priority, allowing us to make conscious decisions that are noble and godly, rather than for selfish or insincere reasons.
It is about fully relying and depending on God to help and lead our marriage that is glorifying to God and not glorifying to ourselves. Through that, God never fails to provide and bless those with a pure and righteous heart.
God and Love
In our wedding vows nearly a year ago, we used this passage from 1 John chapter 4, verses 7-10; " Dear friends, let us love one another, because love is from God, and everyone who loves has been fathered by God and knows God. The person who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
By this the love of God is revealed in us: that God has sent his one and only Son into the world so that we may live through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins." This is what will keep our marriage going for another year and many more years to come. Through Jesus and Jesus alone.
Clarissa Yates is from Singapore but moved to live in Perth, Western Australia in 2008. Clarissa completed a BSc. in Molecular Biology at the University of Western Australia and is now working as a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Western Australia, where she is part of a research team studying therapies for lung cancer.
Clarissa Yates previous articles may be viewed at