Just a few years ago, the two superhuman specimens comprising Brangelina decided to join forces in marriage while the rest of us mere mortals looked on in celebration — and envy. Today, however, we’ve learned that Angelina Jolie has filed for divorce from Brad Pitt. And, somehow, we’ll all have to just get on with our lives.
Sure, it can seem like certain people are truly made for each other (especially when their “perfect” personas, for better or for worse, take on cultural significance). But celebrities are people, too. And people in the U.S. have a divorce rate of around 40-50% (and it’s even higher after the first marriage). So it’s not uncommon for even those seemingly perfect relationships to end for totally unpredictable — yet totally understandable — reasons.
Luckily, research has uncovered some very interesting (and helpful) patterns in our pairings. Click through to see a few things science can tell us about the way relationships develop and, ultimately, end.
Looking at data from the CDC for over 10,000 people, Nicholas Wolfinger, PhD, a sociology researcher at the University of Utah, found that the age at which you get married can predict how likely divorce is for you. In particular, Dr. Wolfinger’s analysis suggests that there’s a sort of “Goldilocks period” — ages 28 to 32 — in which you’ve got the best chances to stick together. Those who got married above or below that age window had higher rates of divorce.
If the time for divorce comes, recent research suggests women are more likely to be the ones to make the move. Interestingly, though, that wasn’t the case among non-married couples. In those relationships, men and women showed similar rates of initiating breakups.
Unfortunately, like so much other relationship research, this study only looked at heterosexual couples. So we can’t conclude anything about the way non-heterosexual divorces unfold from these findings.
Yep, divorces are more likely to happen at certain times of year — two times of year, to be exact. According to research recently presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, splits are more likely to take place in March (following the winter holidays) and August (following the summer holidays). Perhaps all of that holiday tension builds up and provides a final push for divorce.
A few years ago there was quite an uproar online when a study from researchers at Emory University suggested that there was link between the price of your engagement ring and the length of your marriage. The study found that participants who spent between $2,000 and $4,000 on their rock were more likely to end up divorced than those who spent between $500 and $2,000.
However, divorce rates started to decrease again when the ring cost over $8,000 and those who spent nothing on their rings were actually most likely to split. So, as usual, the story is a little more complicated than the headlines.
There’s a ton of research out there suggesting that the way partners spend their time with each other has a lot to do with the overall quality of their relationship. For example, a study published a few months back in The Journal of Gerontology: Psychological Sciences surveyed nearly 5,000 people about their drinking habits and their marriages. Results showed that couples that drank together tended to have less negativity in their relationship, including receiving less excess criticism from a spouse. That’s definitely worth drinking to.