I received a copy of The Five Love Languages for Valentine’s Day and have been reading it. One interesting fact that the book presented (without any source being cited, my academic side noted) is that the divorce rate for first time marriages is 40%, that of second marriages 60%, and that for third marriages a scary 75%.
Since my first marriage ended in divorce, this got me wondering a bit about my chances of success at a second marriage. Since I teach critical thinking, I know that I cannot infer that my chance of success in a second marriage is a mere 40%. After all, even if the number given in the book is correct, that is a general statistic and it is perilous to reason from statistics to what is or will be the case with a specific individual. After all, there are factors that make a marriage more or less likely to succeed and my chances will depend on such factors.
Of course, one general “factor” that is present in a second marriage is that the first marriage did not succeed (laying aside cases involve a person being a widow/widower) for at least one person. As such, the person in question might very well have qualities and traits that lead to the failure of the first marriage. As such, they are likely to fail once again. In the case of the third marriage, the set includes people who have (probably) failed twice before. Hence, they are even more prone to failure.
So, one reasonable explanation for the increased failure rate in marriages is not that there is failure built in to second or third marriages. Rather, the people who are involved in them will include people who have already showed a tendency to fail in marriage. And, the set of people in each successive marriage (2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc.) will contain more and more repeat failures.
In my own case, I think I can avoid or prevent what caused my first marriage to fail. Obviously, most people think that-otherwise there wouldn’t be any second or third marriages. :)