If you’re married and live in Oklahoma, there’s a higher-than-average chance that your marriage will end in divorce. According to the Oklahoma Marriage Initiative, a state agency designed to promote healthy marriages in Oklahoma, approximately 34% of all people who have ever been married in Oklahoma are divorced. This begs the question: is there anything you can do to prevent your marriage from dissolving?
Though every marriage and divorce is different, there are some common factors that increase the chances of divorce. By learning what these factors are and how to avoid them, you can help create a healthier and happier marriage between you and your spouse.
1. Marrying Too Soon
If you get married early, your marriage is more likely to end. This simple fact is one of the biggest factors in divorces across the country. It’s also one of the reasons why Oklahoma’s divorce rate is so high. With a higher proportion of young couples than average, Oklahoma – and much of the rest of the South – also has a much higher divorce rate. The average age of a newlywed woman in Oklahoma is only 22, more than two years younger than the national average.
In contrast, states like New York, New Jersey, and Massachusetts have much lower divorce rates than average. One major reason for this is that the couples often delay marrying until they are older. Older couples with more relationship experience divorce less often and are generally happier in their marriages.
The lesson? If you aren’t married yet, wait until you’re older. By delaying marriage and children until after you are done with college or starting your career, you make it more likely that you and your spouse will be happy and secure in your life together.
2. Financial Stress
There are many ways that money can affect a marriage. For instance, married couples are often unprepared for the expenses of married life. They may have a mortgage that takes a large portion of their money, or young children to support. Perhaps only one spouse has a job. Weddings are also increasingly expensive – 57% of people married in Oklahoma spend more than $10,000 on their wedding alone. These expenses can add up and put pressure on the couple as they’re just starting their lives together.
No matter what the cause, financial stress is a leading factor in divorce. The Oklahoma Marriage Initiative states that financial troubles are a major cause of Oklahoma divorces. They also show that couples with lower income are more likely to divorce, especially if only one spouse is working or if there are children in the marriage.
Obviously there is no single easy way to prevent money troubles. However, there are steps you can take to ease the burden. One seldom-used resource is a financial planning course. These classes offer good advice on managing money and are available from many places at flexible times. Couples also should learn to communicate about money openly. Setting clear expectations and goals can help people be more comfortable with their finances and reduce money-related stress.
3. Communication Problems
A frequently-cited relationship problem is issues with communication. This can include a lack of trust or disclosure in a relationship, too much arguing or fighting, or simply having different goals than your spouse. In any case, failing to talk about and work through these problems is a major factor in the likelihood of a divorce.
There are a huge number of resources available to help couples learn to communicate better. Many married couples are shy about using them since they are a tacit admission that they are having problems, but in truth they are a great option. Marriage counseling is a good place to start, as are online resources and guides. In any case, the first step towards solving communication issues is admitting they exist.
4. Children and Family Issues
Though most parents will never admit it, stress and disagreements about children or family members are a big part of many divorces. Couples can disagree about almost every part of raising a child, including saving for education, their methods of discipline, how involved they are in school or extracurricular activities, and more. Because these disagreements are often based on deep-set beliefs, they can cause major problems in the relationship. Similar problems can exist with other family members, too – parents, siblings, and other relations can cause arguments or disagreements that lead to more problems.
When parents disagree about the proper way to raise children or handle family members, communication is the first step to a solution. This goes back to the previous point – many couples argue or fight instead of discussing issues productively. There are solutions available for couples willing to work on their problems. For example, parenting classes or family counseling can help couples with children air their issues, discuss solutions, and get advice.
5. Cheating and Abuse
Unfortunately, many Oklahoma divorces are born out of dishonesty, cheating, or spousal abuse. According to the 2010 National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey, more than 49% of Oklahoma women and 40% of men have been the victims of domestic violence in their lives. And while Oklahoma has a lower-than-average number of child abuse and neglect cases reported each year, the cases that do exist are also a major contributing factor in state divorces.
Adultery and infidelity also contribute to the termination of many Oklahoma marriages. Though it’s difficult to say exactly how many marriages end due to cheating, it’s impossible to ignore that it happens regularly. Oklahoma City is the fifth-biggest market for the website ashleymadison.com, an online-dating-like website catering to married people looking for a discreet affair.
In many cases, there is little that can be done in a relationship once abuse or adultery has begun. Both are fault cases for divorce in Oklahoma, meaning they can be used as a reason for a divorce (assuming the wronged spouse can collect evidence proving the acts took place). There are also many resources available for spouses fearing abuse or violence, including from the Attorney General’s office and several non-profit organizations.
If you find yourself experiencing any of these problems and you want help deciding what to do, contact Bryan Stratton today. His years of experience as an Oklahoma family lawyer have given him the knowledge to help you in your case. Contact our Oklahoma City office today to schedule your no-obligation consultation and get the legal help you need.