June is the traditional month for weddings in the United States, where four out of every 10 of marriages is a do-over for either the bride or the groom, and 20 percent of nuptials are remarriages for both, according to a report from the Council on Contemporary Families.
“Americans are fairly optimistic about marriage,” said Wendy Manning, co-director of the National Center for Family & Marriage Research, who prepared the report. “Americans are unique in that once they get divorced, they are much more likely to remarry than people in other countries.”
When compared to other industrialized nations, Americans marry at higher rates and then, once we divorce, we remarry at higher rates. Not only is getting married considered a major milestone in the United States, there might be practical financial considerations as well.
“A lot of our benefits in society are based on marital status,” Manning said. “So if you’re married, you get somebody’s life insurance, social security benefits, health benefits. In other countries, those things are provided regardless of whether or not you’re married.”
The remarriage numbers are even higher for people in their early forties, where more than half of all marriages represent a second trip to the altar.
American men are twice as likely to remarry as women. While 40 out of every 1,000 men remarry, only 21 per 1,000 women do. More than half of people under 45 who’ve been married before remain optimistic that they will marry again.
However, overall, fewer Americans are choosing to remarry. In 1995, 54 percent of women who got a divorce before they turned 45 went on to remarry within 5 years. Today, only 38 percent of those women are heading to the altar within 5 years.
Declining remarriage rates could be due to a number of factors, including more couples deciding to live together, and many older people’s concern about co-mingling finances in a way that could impact their children’s inheritance.
For those who do remarry, a fairy tale ending can be elusive. Remarriages end more often and more quickly than first marriages. Among women under 45, almost one-third of remarriages end in divorce within five years.
That could be because older people tend to have more complicated lives; children from previous relationships, finances, and problems with the ex-spouse, can all be stressors on these unions.
However, if they are willing to work at it, Americans have reasons to be hopeful about saying “I do” again.
“If you have people who are willing to communicate and work together and are really committed to making the relationship work and are active about it,” said Manning, “then the research seems to show that those marriages can be successful.”
So while remarriage might not represent a fairy tale ending, happily ever afters are still attainable for couples willing to work for them.