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Divorce and Occupation (flowingdata.com)
277 points by jkw on Sept 5, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 285 comments

I remember for a school project long ago I had to interview a bunch of people in nursing homes. Many of them had been in marriages that spanned several decades so I asked them how they made it work.

Shockingly everyone said basically the same thing: agreeableness. Supposedly, having low or nonexistent levels of disagreement, whether financial, moral or otherwise is the key.

So with this said, I'd be curious to know how your profession affects your agreeableness (especially in respect to power dynamics). I wish I asked if they choose to agree, e.g compromise, or if they and their partner were naturally agreeable.

Been married for more than 20 years now. The advice I give younger co-workers who are just getting married is "You can be right or you can be happy."

I hear this all the time, and in its typical meaning I think it's terrible advice.

If you care about honesty, or self-respect, or your partner knowing you and how you think -- caving in to everything and avoiding conflict at all costs is the opposite of what you should do.

If you rephrase it as "Don't sweat the small stuff" or "Don't be petty and stubborn about things that don't matter," then it's perfectly reasonable.

I view my relationship like the stock market, it'll have its up and downs, sometimes I'll be ahead, sometimes the market/she'll be ahead and I'll be down....but overtime the stock market generally goes up so it'll all be fine in the end.

My wife tends not to like me describing our marriage like that though :)

Also channeled Baz Luhrman's "Wear Sunscreen" for a second there.

I think you are targeting an argument that doesn't really exist (though I could be wrong).

In my eyes, the heart of this argument is to avoid the whole idea of "me vs. you". This falls in line with the last part of your argument, but I think it's worth driving home. Learning to approach arguments with the mindset of "even if I'm right, the best outcome is that we both come out of this altercation with a mutual understanding", is much more important than "winning" an argument, and I don't believe that concept can be misconstrued.

As a simple example - maybe you're a woman with an attractive male friend. She knows that her intentions are pure, so why is it a big deal if you go out with him after work? Totally valid.

However, it's important to approach the conversation with an aspect of I understand how this could make my partner uncomfortable, so how do I communicate that understanding and alleviate any doubt instead of thinking well, if my partner just trusted me, then this wouldn't be a problem.

To that end, it's also important to identify these concerns early on so they aren't given the opportunity to fester as insecurities in the opposite party.

> Learning to approach arguments with the mindset of "even if I'm right, the best outcome is that we both come out of this altercation with a mutual understanding", is much more important than "winning" an argument, and I don't believe that concept can be misconstrued.

Oh yes, oh god yes it can. I'd argue that it's misconstrued often.

I think your example is a good one. It is not at all clear to me that "I understand how this could make my partner uncomfortable, so how do I communicate that understanding and alleviate any doubt" is better, though it might be -- everything depends on your goals and values and true feelings about the situation.

If you think their discomfort is reasonable, or reassuring them isn't go to make you resentful, then by all means do it.

But maybe their reaction, in this particular circumstance, strikes you as absurdly childish. Maybe it deeply bothers you, and your respect for your partner is in peril. Maybe reassuring them would make you lose respect for yourself. If that's the case, you sure as hell better have it out with them.

If you fail to communicate how you really feel, you're going to do some serious harm to the relationship. Be generous and understanding when you can, but make damn sure your choice to be understanding isn't an excuse to avoid tough conflicts.

I am not married, and I am in my twenties, and I don't get why people are signing a contract with high termination fees just so they can compromise on everything for the next 4 decades. Somebody please enlighten me, why are we still stuck with this 2000yrs old tribal behavior instead of moving on with a more modern approach?

Edit: controversial arguments come with downvotes, but I'd really like to know your opinion on this.

> ...I don't get why people are signing a contract with high termination fees just so they can compromise on everything for the next 4 decades

There are lots of replies about how the spouses benefit from marriage, so I'll add a new reason: children, especially "oops" babies.

About half of all pregnancies are unplanned, regardless of marital status. It's honorable to explicitly define the relationship so the current and future beings affected by a sexual relationship are well cared for. Because of economies of scale, the most efficient way to care for a family is under one roof. There are direct reasons why the poverty level of kids is directly related to the marital status of their biological parents.

The legal contract and the social contract (wedding vows in front of all your favorite people) are ways to ensure the definition of the relationship is enforced by all prudent means.

Of course, you could have sex hundreds and thousands of times during your fertile years hoping that a baby doesn't happen. And you could just get married once a birth is imminent. But over the millennia, most cultures have found that an already established marriage is the best place for a pregnancy.

Anyway, I want nothing but the best for all the single-parent and divorced families out there, but it's not empirically controversial to claim that kids born to stably married couples have the best outcomes.

Including marriage in this explanation implies the wrong causative effect though. "Stably married" just means a stable relationship.

Whether you have a ceremony or not is not a causative predictor of a stable relationship.

That sounds like an empirical claim. Do you have any evidence to back that up?

The evidence in the other direction showing marital status is linked with child poverty is pretty clear. Census data shows that poverty rates are five times higher for children of single mothers (1).

Maybe the mechanism isn't clear or something, but the data is stark enough to deserve an explanation about why marital status isn't important to kids.

(1) http://educationnext.org/files/ednext_XV_2_mclanahan_fig04.j...

I took the parent comment to mean that being married itself shouldn't provide any more benefits than just being in a stable, long-term relationship. To your point, I agree that having a marriage ceremony probably helps maintain the relationship due to social pressure.

I would be interested to see research comparing the children of married couples to those of unmarried stable long-term relationships. My hypothesis is that the outcomes would be similar.

> I took the parent comment to mean that being married itself shouldn't provide any more benefits than just being in a stable, long-term relationship.

Understood. I still think it's fair for the burden of proof to fall on the people trying to explain away current demographic trends. Just because possible mechanisms don't line up with expectations doesn't mean the outcomes aren't actually happening.

And, at some point, there is a distinction without a difference when talking about long-term monogamous cohabitations that do or do not involve a wedding ceremony. In common law, it would be a marriage either way. Maybe the real question is why common law marriages aren't recognized more often now.

To me as a N/W-European, it feel strange to hear you link marriage and obligations to children. Under Dutch law, your obligations to children do not change with marital status.

I think "children" are the only legitimate reason for marriage.

If you just want someone to stay with you, that's just a strong form of friendship, and there's no reason to want only "one" such person.

There are many many efficiencies that come with having partners of various kinds. Partners are like a RAID array for your everyday life problems: get sick? They help cover the bases while a rebuild happens. Need someone to be home over a couple days because of a plumber or something? Now you each only need to miss half as much work. Need to pick something up from the store on your way home? Maybe they need something too and the number of shopping detours taken is reduced by half.

Likewise, partners enable a bit of task specialization. Maybe one of you really knows real estate and the other is great at finding bargains, or managing retirement assets, or any other number of such things: you both get the result of the better partner's ability in each domain.

Marriage is a form of attempting to guarantee that one always has a beneficial partner. Though hopefully they're also a best friend who you enjoy being around and doing stuff with and not just a highly capable android sitting around to help make your life more efficient.

I'm not entirely sure what makes it something to be "stuck in" or all about (negative) compromises.

For me it always seemed like a business deal. You decide to become partners with someone and invest in each others success. My wife for example bought me books on programming early in our relationship, now that I have applied those skills and got a job in the field the extra money I bring home benefits us both. She is rightfully entitled to some of that ROI should I leave her because she did a lot of the initial investment, a legal marriage only formalizes that agreement and encourages it.

When I was in my twenties, I didn't think marriage sounded that great either. I am 42 now and love being married. Here are a few thoughts:

* I really understood the desire to marry when I found someone who was right for me. My wife and I are highly compatible. It is great having a teammate in life. I had many relationships which were good, but didn't rise to this standard. All the time, I think about how much I respect and value her.

* I value stability for my children. I love my children more than I could ever have anticipated, and the home we create for them matters a lot to me. Also, there is no one else who understands your parenting project the way your spouse does.

* My wife and I laugh a lot together, usually just before we fall asleep or just after we wake up. The intimacy and comfort is fun.

* For me, I didn't like the idea of marriage until I was ready for it. What I mean is that when I was young I wanted to work all the time, and I felt poor and was constantly worried about money. By the time I met my wife, I had had enough career success, and had enough savings, that I was ready to be really generous without feeling stressed about it. I mean generous in the broadest sense: with my time, with my emotional security, with my financial resources. Marriage seemed more threatening or risky before I got to that point.

* The 'contract' is negotiable - we have a prenup. That said, I don't ever expect it to have any meaning for us, but don't get hung up on that.

I could name a lot more reasons, but those are the main ones that come to mind.

My advice is: Keep trying to meet a lot of people. Eventually, you will meet one who after a year or two makes you say "If I could lock this situation in, I would be ecstatic," and she will feel the same way. Then, marry her! The day I got married, I couldn't believe my luck. Many years later, I feel far more lucky than I did the first day.

Also, I love this essay on marriage: http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/slates_10th_...

What do you propose as your more modern approach?

Probably two reasons for downvotes: This seems like stereotypical naivety-driven "everything is broken why doesn't everyone else see it" youth angst without any propositions for things to make people better off instead, and closely-related, it seems unaware of that marriage has been an evolving thing for a long time, not a purely untouched for hundreds of years legacy thing. Consider views in the US on arranged marriages today vs 100 years ago, typical ages at time of marriage, requirements/allowances for divorce, etc. I'd argue most of what you probably want already happens and has been happening for decades or centuries in the form of marriage being continually adopted to the times.

In particular, I'm interested in your "more modern approach" to shared property - from big-ticket items to small-ticket-but-potential-high-attachment ones.


> A contract with high termination fees

Not sure people who are getting married generally see it that way. There are certainly the segment of people out there who view marriage as the thing you do after dating, but there are others who legitimately see it as wanting to spend your life with someone and maybe have kids of your own. When you make that kind of a commitment and mean it, it's not a contract with termination fees. It's a promise.

From that point forward you are doing what's best for your family and not just you...not because you have to compromise on everything but because you love your family and you want what's best for them.

It's not so much a matter of being agreeable as a matter of putting your family before yourself.

Not sure why you're getting downvoted -- it's a perfectly reasonable question.

The two biggest reasons are: people like security and intimacy; and they want to raise a family with someone.

You can argue that you don't need marriage for those things, and technically you don't, but whatever alternative you land on (especially for raising a family) will likely be effectively identical to marriage in practice. You can opt out of family and long-term relationships altogether, but you'll be missing out on a central part of the human experience.

If the "early termination fees" are your biggest concern, find someone with similar views and get a prenup. Or just stay together without officially getting married. You'll lose tax benefits, but if it's important to you go for it.

If that didn't answer the question you intended to ask, you'll need to clarify what you meant by a more modern approach. What are you imagining that looks like?

I tried to answer to your question here https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=15179002

why are we still stuck with this 2000yrs old tribal behavior instead of moving on with a more modern approach?

There was a time when our ancestors became monogamous, and before that they weren't. So how do you consider non-monogamy more "modern"?

You know how sometimes when you're looking at an old codebase, where all the developers who've written it have moved on to other jobs, you see a little bit of code that doesn't seem to make sense? And then you remove that code, and then and only then do you find out exactly why it was there in the first place - usually in a rather painful way?

Well, things like marriage are the societal equivalent of that bit of old code. We're 'stuck' with it because (for the vast majority of people, anyway) it serves a useful purpose, one that only becomes apparent when you go without it. That's not to say we can't and shouldn't change the institution - it not like it hasn't been evolving over the centuries - but it'd be wiser to make changes cautiously, experimentally, and locally rather than just 'moving on' as a society.

Marriage doesn't mean anything to me but it meant a lot to the woman I'm now married to, and legally it is no less complicated to exit a long term defacto relationship then a marriage (unless you spend way too much time trying to structure it so that it is).

Which is kind of the answer here: if you spend a lot of time with someone, then the contracts you'll sign (house, bank, etc.) will have high termination fees anyway.

Because once your brain matures and you have faced your own mortality, some people realize its not a matter of compromising or sheepishly following tribal behaviour. It actually makes sense to some. For me, it's a way to facilitate spending the limited amount of time I get on this planet: by being with my family.

Marriage is a nice, acceptable institution to facilitate family life. Upsides are the ring, the party, taxes, no legal bs when having kids and the ease of buying a house. I've yet to find a downside... Prerequisites are the conviction that your SO is the one you want to be with for a long time, without exception.

In many cases, you pay a tax penalty for getting married. My girlfriend and I, who own a home together, would pay roughly $7000 a year more in taxes were we to get married.


I'm happy to be stuck with my wife for the next 4 decades and have more than one to look back at. When you find the right person, it isn't much of a compromise.

I'm curious - what is the more "modern approach"? No commitment, no family?

Sure, but why getting married?

A couple can believe in love, without contracts on the side.

And if they decide to break up, then let it be so. Marriages more often than not seem to force people together when things are not right anymore, instead of letting them be free to choose something else when love is gone.

The longer you live together and pool resources the harder it will be to cleanly break apart. Marriage makes an implicit contract and ruleset an explicit one. If you are gonna be in a perma-relationship, why reinvent the wheel when you can adopt an existing system that has been in place in one form or other for thousands of years?

I thought marriage was about love, but if it ends up being about managing resources then why not start something like a company with equal(or not) shares, vesting periods, etc? It would make more sense to me because it's a more efficient way of dealing with shared assets than the current legal form of marriage.

Sure, think of marriage as a default, off-the-shelf standard contract which attempts to make sure neither party is aggrieved if a split happens.

You can of course use a non-standard contract. It's called a pre-nup, and it has both the downsides and upsides of a non-standard contract.

Marriage being "about love" is a relatively recent phenomenon. It has previously been about managing resources, making family political/social alliances, and (as it still is) creating social and economic stability for children.

I don't have, want, or even particularly like children, and even I have a problem thinking of them as "shares" or "assets" or pre-deciding their fate with a formal contract written before they were born or old enough to express their own wishes.

Because every couple is different. Marriage is incredibly simple. The actual complexities of marriage don't come from marriage itself but from all the shit left undefined, which has to worked out ad-hoc per couple.

I'm sure if you were the dictator and God-King of a small country, where you could reinvent society as you wish, you might be able to create something that would fit 99% of the population, since you would be able to forcibly squeeze the behavior of each couple into a few standardized containers with corresponding legal rulesets.

Because people who are in love want to get married, like their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents and great-great-parents and [etc] did, not "start something like company for the holding of joint assets".

Getting married is romantic and irrational, and that's why we enjoy doing it.

Contracts are for when a relationship breaks down, not the other way around. The "contracts" offer protections to parents offering a legal path for enforcing access to their children as well as financial protections.

It also seems to offer access to additional social and cultural collateral than just cohabitation and has several inferred expectations in various social spheres.

Parties in a relationship sometimes have wildly different experiences, expectations and motivations "in love" and marriage provides a way to reduce this complexity.

There aren't many things that test your will and resolve more than having to sign a big contract on something. What people will commit to verbally is often vastly different to what they will actually sign to when it's in writing.

I like my marriage to be a bit more permanent than my job. I work in an at-will situation. I can leave anytime and they can fire me anytime, no reason required. That is fine for work, but I like more stability in my personal life. I don't have an issue with a "contract" to agree not to shop around for a better gig. I don't have an issue with a contract that will take a bit of work to undo if it is wrong - all the better reason to get it right before entering into it. Marriage or not - throw kids into the mix and you have one of the big reasons people stick together when maybe they otherwise wouldn't.

Marriage is much more than believing in "love". Marriage can remind you that you might want to stick around even on the bad days. Life isn't always easy, but sometimes it is too easy to walk away from something that is better held on to.

Perhaps as a way of encouraging you to persist through minor stumbles? As a tribute to your partner who dreams/hopes of a wedding?

Correct. Yes, I compromise with her, but it is because I love her and she is usually right and she comes at the problems loving me. We all have blind spots, and she knows mine pretty well by now. Together, we are much much stronger than apart. I can't live without her at this point, I would be 'myself', with the same body and memories, but I would not be me. It's like The Doctor when he re-gens. He has all the same memories, but he is totally different. Without my wife, I would be 'dead' in that way too. I wouldn't want to be with anyone else at this point, she and I have created a world and life together and I love her more everyday.

Correct me if I am wrong, you could still love her, and do all the things you do, and keep supporting each other just with the power of your love without grabbing a pen and signing a piece of paper.

I am not arguing against long-term relationship or against honest and true love, I am arguing against the actual marriage practice.

If it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, and walks like a duck, you may need some stale bread to feed it, not a sirloin.

What's the big deal with signing a piece of paper and having a really awesome party with all your family and friends? I don't get the adversity to the marriage 'practice' (not a bad word choice either, as you do have to practice it everyday).

It sounds like you agree with the concept but disagree with its name..

All relationships have their ups-and-downs, and there may come a time when the only thing holding it together is a promise that was made in front of other people. You may think that's a bad reason to stay together, but the fact is that that (bad) time will most likely pass and if you're still together you may very well find your way back to each other. I know my own marriage has sometimes hung by not much more than that and then we've found our way back.

Of course if a promise you make means very little to you, then so will marriage.

> All relationships have their ups-and-downs, and there may come a time when the only thing holding it together is a promise that was made in front of other people.

Marriage is not a pre-requisite for going through the up and downs of a relationship. Normal relationships with no marriage have ups and downs too, and if there is mutual understanding and affection it will survive anyways. If it doesn't work, well, then maybe it's better to put an end to it and find a better partner?

I guess my question is, why are we putting ourselves in the corner with a contract just to force ourselves to stick around a little bit longer, since you could do that anyways without that same contract?

Maybe it's part of the human nature to go through this, to find a partner that we think will be loved forever, and then it won't work, and we learn from it, and we make more mistakes until we find the real one. Society tells you to find a life partner between a specific age range, but what if it's not true? What if you must make mistakes, you must break up with a partner, maybe only to find out that you both love each other and come back together. Maybe all of this must happen, but we are not letting it happen because of external contingencies.

In a way it seems like we are artificially containing our human nature.

Why do people ever sign contracts? Every contract is a restriction on your future courses of action. That's the point - a contract that doesn't bind you to do something in the future isn't a contract.

The reason why we've evolved contracts at all is because it changes how people behave. When people know that bad things will happen when they break a contract, they are much less likely to break the contract. That in turn lets other people trust that the events stipulated in the contract will in fact occur, even if it is against the other party's immediate self-interest, and so they can act on the assumption that that future will be true. So for example: people sign confidentiality agreements with their employers because without them, the employer isn't going to share any information that's important to the business, and without that information, you can't do your job, and if you can't do your job, your value is zero to your employer and they're not going to pay you. Knowing that they can sue you for a lot of money if you spread trade secrets around, though, they can feel reasonably secure in telling you those trade secrets. It's against your immediate self-interest to be bound by any restrictions on your freedom of speech, but it's definitely in your long-term self-interest to have a job and develop professional skills which you wouldn't otherwise have.

So it is with marriage. The reason people get married is because it changes how our spouse behaves toward us, because they know our incentives are much more in favor of remaining within the relationship, and so they're willing to invest more and sacrifice more for your benefit, because there's a reasonable assumption that it will come back around to benefit them. Sure, people can behave that way anyways - but it's often not rational to, and many people get screwed by behaving as if they are married when their spouse actually has no intention of ever marrying them.

I guess my question is, why are we putting ourselves in the corner with a contract just to force ourselves to stick around a little bit longer, since you could do that anyways without that same contract?

So.. don't?

In most Western societies there is some degree of protection for de-facto relationships. You can always add extra protections with some form of extra legal agreement.

There's a generalized form of this called "marriage". Like most forms of legal structure that have evolved over the years (eg, land title! Employment law, etc) it has its problems but it's mostly sorta ok for most people.

But if you want to try to optimize that I don't think anyone will stop you.

Edit: There are of course some specific things (rights to children, default rights in case of a partner's death etc) which do require a marriage. You maybe able to replicate some of these things with a legal contract, but it will be a lot of work and no in anyway efficient.

> Marriage is not a pre-requisite for going through the up and downs of a relationship.

Never claimed as much. I said that sometimes the promise made is the thin string that holds the relationship together at that point in time. Sometimes that is all it takes.

It's the same psychological effect in play as when you declare to all your friends and family that you are on a diet. Once you've made that declaration, you'll be slightly more inclined to stick to the diet compared to just keeping it to yourself and "see how it goes". Sometimes that's all it takes to get yourself through a rough patch.

Without being married, or signing a piece of paper, there's no one in my life who could make medical or financial decisions if I were incapacitated. Maybe you have other relatives who could by default (and that you trust), but I don't. Having spent the last few months dealing with medical issues, this is more important to me than I had ever anticipated.

I see your point at a basic level, but I feel like you're missing out on details that really make an impact in the long run of the marriage itself. Maybe they aren't important to you today, but someday they may be.

Maybe whatever you do can be called a partnership or something else if you're more comfortable with that.

You are gonna get something that looks awfully close to a marriage over long enough of a term. Why not just go for marriage?

As someone who has been married for 14 years, I heartily encourage you to attempt a more modern approach with whomever you may be able to convince to try it with you.

I was a big fan of the subplot of The Office (US) where Dwight and Angela drew up, negotiated, and signed a procreation contract.

The real problem is not defining your personal relationships as you see fit, but in getting the government to recognize that you should have the power to do so. Some politicians are very keen on defining marriage in a particular way, as though it would stop certain forms of relationship from existing, when in reality it just denies to some people the ancillary rights that others freely enjoy by default.

As long as you don't mind the legal discrimination against you, there is no reason for you to get married in the traditional, legally recognized sense. But an awful lot of people like the benefits available only to married couples, which are largely unavailable to those in some other kind of family partnership.

The advice I give to all young people is to never get married, ever. But at some point, many of them will discover seemingly sound reasons to discard my advice, and will do it anyway.

Just legally speaking there's benefits: taxes, you can be on your spouse's health insurance, can visit them in the hospital, investments/inheritance, social security benefits, etc.

I could definitely make an argument that a lot of those benefits could be done away with though. For example different methods of taxing people, healthcare not being tied to people's jobs/universal healthcare, etc.

This is correct. Why can't we, as a society, move away from marriage as it is today but still implement rights between two individuals who love each other in a different, more modern, way?

Define your goal. In this case what exactly is meant by "different, more modern way"? How is the better than the current situation? How is it worse? How do we get there from here? Also note that marriage today isn't the same globally, nor is it the same as it was 2000 years ago. It does and is changing.

My goal is having two individuals loving each other, protected during their relationships with some rights (ie, if she/he is injured at the hospital I am recognized the right to go see her/him), that are able to move away freely from each other without feeling stuck in a contract.

Some of this couples will last forever, some will realize they are not meant for each other and they can walk away without ruining their or their partner's life.

Maybe some of them will ultimately be more happy with their lives and meet other people who they really love.

The current legal form of marriage formalizes love in a contract that doesn't take into account the fact that love can disappears one day for no reason, but assumes marriage is here to stay. Or to be more accurate, it does take that into account with a very expensive trigger called "divorce". Therefore the divorce is putting a price to my lack of love, and makes the decision to quit harder. By doing so the decision of staying together, which should be governed by love, is determined by cost, effectively negating the whole purpose of a marriage.

Unless it's purpose keeping two individuals together no matter what, even if there's no love. Maybe it made sense in the medieval era, not in our century.

> ... that are able to move away freely from each other without feeling stuck in a contract.

I had that right. I freely, gladly, joyfully waived that right. I didn't (and don't) want the right to "move away freely". I wanted (and want) to be permanently committed to her.

27 years later, and it was a really good call...

> The current legal form of marriage formalizes love in a contract that doesn't take into account the fact that love can disappears one day for no reason...

There's love, and there's "love". "Love" is a feeling. Love is action - it's what you do. There have been days when I didn't feel loving toward my wife. I continue to act in ways that do her good, though. The "not feeling loving" doesn't last real long when both sides are committed to doing good to the other.

> The "not feeling loving" doesn't last real long when both sides are committed to doing good to the other.

This. This is the key that I think many people completely miss. Today it's so much about "me, me!" but happiness never comes when you put yourself first.

In this modern day you're not "stuck in a contract", you can get a divorce. If you have a prenup it may even be (almost) free. So all those things you ask for are there, it sounds to me like you want to reinvent the wheel.

In the end, whether married or not, a couple that separates can either do it amicably or not. You can ruin your partner's life without being married. Like wise, a divorce doesn't need to ruin anybody's life.

What you want is for any partner you get, to be happy to leave whenever you don't want them around anymore. That's is not a problem of marriage. That's a problem of human psychology.

> The current legal form of marriage formalizes love in a contract that doesn't take into account the fact that love can disappears one day for no reason

Maybe marriage takes more facts into account than your "reinvented marriage". I've been married for nearly a decade and a half and have had love disappear one day, only to reappear a couple of days later. If all it took was to pack my bags and leave I might had done it.

> What you want is for any partner you get, to be happy to leave whenever you don't want them around anymore.

Just to clarify, same for my partner, I would want them to feel they can leave anytime instead of sticking around. This topic may came across as a selfish point of view, which is not really my intention, it works both ways. I believe in long-term relationships, in fixing problems together, in building value between two people. All I am arguing is, you can do that today without a contract.

You are correct, a prenup may fix things - but too strong of a prenup effectively invalidates the marriage contract and the contractual incentives in the relationship. Thing is, at the end of the day it becomes a contractual negotiation, but heck, I just wanted to care about my partner and be happy until the end of time, instead it becomes "If you love me, initials here and signature there".

The termination costs can in fact be quite high.

Mind: there are aggreeable divorces. There are also disagreeable ones.

A particular hazard of the contract is that if your co-party is inclined to rake you over the coals, they can attempt to do so with a fairly high probability of success. This isn't a win-lose game so much as a lose-lose one. Unfortunately, other players (in particular a certain class of barrister) may well encourage that type of behaviour.

That's not to say that alternative contract structures might not face similar issues. Human relations are ideosyncratic, messy, and hard to predict. But the current popular form has some fairly notorious failure modes.

I have not been through a divorce, but if you can settle things amicably, I fail to see why a divorce should be expensive.

What's difficult is splitting things up. Not just the things but also children and the place you live. You have to work out a solution with someone you'll probably have a mixed bag of feelings for and against.

You can argue that people would be better off in the split without having signed a contract with a set of rules to follow if they can't agree. But I'm not sure you'd be right.

Another thing is that I understand you're providing an argument, but I think the idea that love is the only thing keeping people together in a relationship is incorrect, it's much, much more complicated than that.

The main issue is children.

Divorces, when childless and penniless, are typically very quick and comparatively easy.

When there is a lot of money and a poorly written pre-nup or no pre-nup at all, things get very messy very quickly and can drag out for years. However, that is still just a bunch of squabbling over dollars, guest bedrooms, and pink-slips. Judges and society really do not care about that stuff all too much and the laws are somewhat straightforward, though time consuming.

However, when there are children involved, the Judges don't really give a damn about the parents, usually. It is all about the kids, because they are (rightfully to me at least) the core issue. There are many ways to look at this, but I think the 'evolutionary' approach is the most useful one. Societies that put the next generation above all others tend to be the ones that survive, it seems. Sometimes this is at the cost of the parents' happiness. Sometimes, this results in a particular child being less happy, or downright suicidal, in the end. But if you look at the society to be in competition with other societies, you can see why this tactic is 'best'. Is this the right or wrong way for individual people? In an evolutionary approach, who cares? That said, the environment in which societies are 'living' in is in drastic change currently and we should expect to see some drastic changes to societies, including how children are treated and how the next generation propagates in the society space.

But when children are involved, does it really matter whether it's called a divorce or just a break-up? From the child's perspective, their safe, loving world with two parents living together is now drastically ripped apart. Their pain doesn't decrease just because mom and dad only broke up.

We already have; do you not have defacto relationships or civil unions with comparable rights as married couples in your country?

In a society that offers both, why would anybody choose marriage over a civil union?

If they're the same, what difference does it make what name you put on it?

But if they're different... well, my perception is that by "marriage" you mean something permanent, and by "civil union" you mean something at least potentially temporary. When we got married, "temporary" wasn't an option. We wanted to make something permanent, something we weren't going to back out of. That was our intention then, and it's our intention now. Why? Well, maybe I could put it this way. When you find an amazing place with really inexpensive rent, how long of a lease do you want to sign?

No. Two people can and should be together forever if that's what they want. It can be permanent even without a traditional marriage.

> We wanted to make something permanent, something we weren't going to back out of.

Couldn't the same statement be made without signing a piece of paper? Isn't mutual love, understanding, affection, protection between each other enough to make this statement?

What are we afraid of? That without marriage maybe one day some of this love, affection and protection will go away? But if it's really strong, aren't we going to find again mutual understanding with our partner and fix it anyways, with or without a marriage? And if that piece of paper is really the only thing holding two people together, shouldn't they re-consider that maybe they are not meant for each other and there is another person out there who is waiting for them?

> When you find an amazing place with really inexpensive rent, how long of a lease do you want to sign?

If I told you that this place could be yours forever even without signing a lease, you could just move in and enjoy it for the rest of your life for how long as you wanted, why would you sign the lease anyways?

Some people prefer commitment while others appear to want to be able to walk away as soon as "love" is gone.

It seems that marriage is a crazy idea to you. Your "modern" ideas seem crazy to me. To each his own.

Because marriage assumes deeper commitment. It is easier to have children when family has a deeper commitment.

People who choose to have no children - are eliminated by natural selection (alongside with their choice of avoiding marriage).

The reverse could also be asked.

There are no religious associations with the practise, that's important for me personally.

Fair enough. I'm a non-believer so I simply give that aspect no import.

Im sorry for you. Stevie Wonder said the first thing he would do if he had sight would be touch the earth.

You are a blind man asking us what is the earth.

We cannot answer.

I was in the same boat as you until I broke my tibia rock climbing and had to lay in bed for 6 weeks. Shit happens in life and as you get older having no support network becomes less appealing. In your early 20's it is easy to be an island.

4 decades? Are you planning on murdering your potential spouse in your 60s (since you seem to be implying that divorce is too costly)? I'm in my 40s and hope to still be married in 40 years!

Simply because you gain more than you put in, and that's true for both spouses. I am not going to get into specifics because those are very personal.

I believe it's because as you get older, the 'single life' becomes less interesting, less rewarding and culturally less acceptable.

Largely because of biological aging, especially on that last point.

Relationships will be interesting once aging is no longer a concern. I suspect it will be common for most marriages to have a natural duration that's planned for up front.

> Relationships will be interesting once aging is no longer a concern. I suspect it will be common for most marriages to have a natural duration that's planned for up front.

I disagree.

If people live longer with less physical aging then I'm even less interested in repeating tedious 20s-style hookups and first-dates/first-year-of-dating experiences in the future.

If you're looking for a purely financial reason, tax benefits and better insurance rates.

It's the best way to raise socially and economically successful children in the modern era.

It has a good side effect of giving otherwise ineligible bachelors the ability to form families and thus do something other than die in wars and commit crime, but I don't think this drives individuals to marriage.

there are health benefits to having a dedicated partner as well, life expectancy improves

I like "a man who loves his wife loves himself".

In other words, "you" becomes plural. One spouse isn't right unless both are. One spouse isn't happy unless both are.

To the extent that that's not happening, it's an urgency for each spouse to iterate, check in, and innovate until both are right and happy. Even if that's impossible (say, chronic illness) then at least it's a loving team fighting for things that are worth it.

That's really horrible. It's as bad as "You can't love someone else until you love yourself," and "You're nobody until somebody loves you," and "Happy wife, happy life." All awful sayings.

It's perfectly possible for one spouse to love their spouse but not themselves, or to be right when the other isn't, or one to be happy when the other isn't. It's understandable to want to help your spouse to become right or happy or whatever, but a saying like the above is one of those memes that people repeat without fully thinking through what it actually means. And what it means is terrible.

It's Ephesians 5:28. I can promise you it's not a thoughtless meme that people bat around. I've heard it cited in at least six wedding sermons.

That seems a little cynical. Best advice I've heard adjacent to this is to give 60% and expect 40%. If you both do this then everyone ends up with more than they expect.

Replace "be right" with "dominate" and "be happy" with "co-operate".

That may make it clearer.

That doesn't sound far off from "Happy wife, happy life". Both my wife and I think it is the dumbest thing ever. To me, that attitude is what is wrong with marriage.

Nobody is ever right all the time, not even my wife. Pointing that out may not cause immediate happiness, but I think an honest relationship is worth it.

> "You can be right or you can be happy."

To flesh this point out beyond just being agreeable, you can both do a cost-benefit analysis on whether something is worth arguing about. A lot of the time you or your partner are just nitpicking because of some fucked up power dynamics going on at work, with friends or some other external factor. Your boss being a dick is probably the reason the bathroom being messy is such a big deal and you want to vent about it. You both need to be reasonable, introspective and effective at communicating.

...but that shit flies out the door when 1.) either of you are hungry 2.) you have kids and they're hungry/crying/fighting. Always plan your meals.

Nope. Grandparent had it right: you should be basically exactly like one another. I know there are exceptions, but I assume one party is giving in a lot to the other in those situations. Unless that's something you _like_ to do, then you should probably not be married in the opposites-attract scenario.

Well put. A couple should be required to read this as part of getting married.

The way I've heard that phrased is that the three most important words in a marriage are not, "I love you" but "Maybe you're right."

I would posit that a part of agreeing includes, subconsciously and consciously, evaluating what the other party is bringing to the table and if you're willing "pay" for it by agreeing. For something as important as financial (translating into physical in today's world) security, I would think that having a partner that makes a decent amount of money and has a secure income stream automatically makes you likelier to agree with them (or compromise, or be willing to do something you might not want to normally).

Approaching a marriage with a "what am I getting out of this" attitude seems like the opposite of agreeability.

I mean, when it comes down to it, most people are getting married because they are getting something out of it. Otherwise, why would would people get married? It just so happens that what people want out of it is often mutually beneficial to the couple.

I think approaching a marriage with a utilitarian attitude actually makes less sense since there are inevitably stretches where one partner feels like they are getting a raw deal. Say, a partner gets cancer. Or you have your fifth miscarriage.

A healthy marriage is more than the sum of its parts. Part of the point of a marriage is commitment even when you cannot offer as much back, whether due to personal foible or catastrophe. Or even when the spouse gets all those promotions and could conceivably "upgrade".

Very noble. But over time, if either party is not getting what they need, that will start to become a problem.

>what the other party is bringing to the table

People like to forget that the perceived value of these pros/cons brought to the table varies from person to person.

Which is one of reasons why being stay at home wife is shitty situation. Regardless of whether this expectation comes from her, the partner or both.

Some may consider it to be a bad situation. No need to shame individuals that find fulfillment in managing a home for their loving family.

I mean, sure, but I did not shamed anybody.

The perception in parent is not good in long term. If you feel the need to agree, basically because you perceive partner to 'do the big important thing' while you perceive yourself to do 'just a small less important things' then agreements might be pleasant for partner for a while, but it will cost. It will be hit for your self regard, ressentement and unappreciation will build up over time and that will affect everything. Even worst if partner believes so.

Real life is not romantic familly movie. It just does not work in such simplistic idyllic way.

Definitely not when motivation for roles split is the wish that partner agrees with you more often - due to partner perceiving herself as giving less. That is parents iterpretation, not mine.

Your original statement that being a stay at home wife was a "shitty situation" was a blanket statement with no qualifications. Thank you for clarifying the exact conditions of what you consider a raw deal.

I want to add that, at least in my opinion, managing a home is no less important than providing the means to do so if both partners are gratified by the resulting homelife.

I find that shitty situation in moder world in general too, yes. There are multiple factors that make it depressive situation - the period while moms stay home with child is considered risk factor for alcoholism for a reason. I haven't seen much gratification inreal world either, where it was done, more like unhappiness and depression in situation where you are supposed to be happy and not supposed to complain.

I dunno. Guys who work long hours and are never home tend to talk about gratifying home life waaay more often then women who stay at home while children were small.

You don't hear such romantic odes on it even from stay at home moms who actually found a way to be content. And when you mention negatives of that lifestyle, they don't get offended about hearing them like workoholic dudes apparently get offended (at least rush to downvote).

Not necessarily - specialization is awesome, and much, much less needs to be negotiated.

> I wish I asked if they choose to agree, e.g compromise, or if they and their partner were naturally agreeable.

What about a third possibility: that they already had parity beforehand about many issues important to them? Most wisdom about successful marriages I've heard is that you should marry someone whose values are aligned with your own.

But we keep on having this "opposite poles attract each other" kind of narrative in books and movies. I guess that two people agreeing on almost everything from the get-go makes for really boring stories.

Aligning values isn't the same as matching personalities. What's important is that each appreciates the other's personality -- that they complement each other, not that the personalities are the same.

> Aligning values isn't the same as matching personalities

This depends on how you define "personality" and "values". Because for example, according to psychological research, personality traits (as defined by the Big 5 model of personality) are strongly correlated with things such as political beliefs (which could be argued is a subset of a person's values at least), and are largely stable over time. So it wouldn't be too much of a stretch to suggest that the more similar the personalities between a couple, the higher the probability of them also having a large set of overlapping "values", however you choose to define them.

"Attract" is not the same as compatible for long term relationships and especially marriage. Initial chemistry is important, but it fades after a honeymoon phase (which usually happens long before the real honeymoon.) There's also a lot of equivocation here on "opposites."

Not every point of disagreement is important: not every value has relevance to a family and not every value one holds is equally difficult to compromise. It's more important to agree on things like finances, children, moral/ethical standpoints, etc... than on politics, music, or hobbies and interests.

Agreeing on, let's say abortion or how to discipline children is not the same as an extrovert marrying an introvert. Some opposites can work together others (think religion) can not.

I think this is the big one. If you don't disagree on anything in a way that makes compromise turn into regret, then things will likely turn out alright.

That's a narrative popular in fiction, and not actually reflected in real life; I'm not going to bother to find the studies showing this, but essentially opposite poles don't attract and people tend to marry others who are much more similar to them than a random person.

Indeed. Karl Pillemer also interviewed a bunch of people in nursing homes and wrote a book about it:


The book says the same thing.

Isn't agreeableness a big 5 psychological trait? It's probably mostly genetically fixed and not affected by your profession, although it probably affects your choice of profession.


Agreeableness is only 42% heritable (the least of the Big 5), and the relative impact of the genetic component decreases if you make a deliberate effort to change your agreeableness, or are incentivized to do so by your environment.

This. After a decade of marriage battles I think I'm finally getting a hang of it thanks to this. Saying yes instead of no. Quietly letting something happen instead of arguing for the opposite.

This is sage advice for business as well.

and yet "lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers" -- a profession not at all known for agreeableness -- have a divorce rate substantially below the median. (Shocked the hell out of me, to be sure.)

Huh? Those are all careers that require a high level of cooperation with people you might not like, a general understanding of civics and pro-social behavior, and a stick-to-it attitude. What's more, those careers, in my limited experience, tend to attract people who actually believe in civility, reasonableness, and agreeableness rather than people who would merely say they do.

Those professions also likely to view all arguments from both side of issue all the time.

Probably more likely to reach an agreement when their own disagreement is on the line.

If a client is paying you $400/hour to disagree with the other side, then why not....

> and yet "lawyers, judges, magistrates and other judicial workers" -- a profession not at all known for agreeableness

I think you are confusing lawyers, etc., with the litigants and other disputants whose conflicts provide them jobs. While hardball is sometimes necessary, understanding other people's interests and finding common ground is central to lawyers’ ability to achieve best resolution for their clients.

One thing the legal profession selects for is being able to disagree about something and discuss that disagreement without making it personal.

People in these careers usually seek job security, they tend to be less risk-averse, grounded type of persons.

It would be interesting to see the stats for litigators versus other types of lawyers. If I had to guess patent lawyers would probably have a lower chance of divorce than litigators.

I am married to a litigator, and my background is computer engineering, although I'm now management.

About the GP comment, litigators are masterful in conducting problem dissection in a calm manner. It's very easy for us to communicate. The only difficult part, and I think this is universal, is that kids + no sleep = craziness. You can throw the stats out the windows if you have very young children.

Even when we go to school meetings with other parents yelling and screaming, we both found ourselves being on side of calm and to the point. Lawyers that like to argue in a public forum and use big words (as I've been told), are typically law students, and not lawyers :)

Maybe they know how ugly divorce can be, and hence try harder to avoid it.

Ill add this

Birth order. (i can't for the life of me find the source).

Birth order can be huge in predicting agreeableness. The "get along" factor.

First born. Middle. Baby. Only. Powerful dynamics

There is a power political couple, the woman is Rep strategist, the man is a Dem strategist. Good god, I have no idea how they make their marriage work, cuz within politics, they are quite the opposite. So, maybe they just agree on everything else.

I believe you're referring to James Carville and Mary Matalin? From Wikipedia:

> Both Matalin and Carville have gone on record saying that they do not talk politics at home.[28] The best example of contention between the two, aside from appearances on talk shows, is the 1993 movie The War Room. In the 1992 political campaign, Matalin and Carville were staffing opposing campaigns. Matalin wrote the best-selling book All's Fair: Love, War and Running for President with Carville and co-author Peter Knobler.[0]

[0]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Matalin#Personal_life

That indeed is the duo I had in mind, could not recall their names. But yeah, that has to be the only way to make it work, keep the differences at work.

But even in a social sitch, and your SO is making a point you completely disagree with... A normal couple sure, nothing on the table reputation wise, so no biggie, but these two, both are quite stubborn about their respective positions.

Props to them though.

There are certainly real political divisions in our country, but at the level of the actual parties it's Pepsi vs Coke.

Do they correct for age? How? It seems like they're just considering the raw divorce rate per year, but obviously software developers have a different age distribution than some of the established industry jobs, so the comparison doesn't seem fair.

The same folks show divorce rate by age: https://flowingdata.com/2016/03/30/divorce-rates-for-differe...

This is a great point. Married people who are e.g. doctors are going to have a minimum age way above that of e.g. flight attendants, and that's definitely relevant to odds of divorce. Either they were married before choosing their positions, and therefore have already been married for quite a while, or they got married older, dropping their divorce risk.

> If someone who is already a physician, quits and takes a job as a bartender or telemarketer, it doesn’t mean their chances of divorce changes.

Uh, I'd say it almost certainly does significantly change their chance of divorce. If you go from having a steady, high income to variable work with high uncertainty around your next paycheck of course it will put more stress on the marriage and substantially increase the risk of divorce.

Right, and even beyond the income issues, that kind of transition is itself unusual, and correlated with all kinds of other negative events. That tends to happen because they lost their medical license, or were embroiled in a scandal that made them unwanted anywhere, or had a major decline in performance (itself due to addiction or chronic condition, etc).

To be sure, it could very well be that they had some "come to Jesus" moment and decided that's what they really wanted to do in life, and it increased their general happiness and willingness to put effort into all their other relationships. But that, I would think, is the exception, not the rule.

Edit: Though it might be correct to say that the job-change is not a causal driver of the divorce, but merely affected by the real cause.

> To be sure, it could very well be that they had some "come to Jesus" moment and decided that's what they really wanted to do in life, and it increased their general happiness and willingness to put effort into all their other relationships. But that, I would think, is the exception, not the rule.

And even this would make them a non-central example of physicians (and bartenders). Most doctors are heavily committed after 10+ years of education; many bartenders are not "living their dream" and expect to move on. Someone who willingly makes that swap because they've found their true calling is incomparable to the average for both careers.

Most doctors are heavily committed after 10+ years of education

This is an interesting claim, because I've read various things claiming the opposite (that medicine is a career with a high rate of people leaving it, because the eventual pay and working conditions are simply horrid).

The medical career field comprises more than just doctors.

The comment I replied to specifically used the word "doctors".

I think there could be a fairly wide range of things that caused such a jump without a major problem. Someone 50+ might semi retire and open a bar on the beach.

What happens if someone inherits 5+ million and wants a less stressful occupation that's not simply traveling around the world? Well they probably do something well outside of the norm.

Inheriting $5M is a pretty risky event (similar to the lottery winning). The chance of divorce in that situation would definitely go up.

Is there evidence of that? I have to imagine that someone used to earning high incomes (like a doctor) would be able to effectively manage a large cash infusion without hurting their marriage.

Of course, this ignores the fact that sometimes divorce might be a "good" thing where a cash infusion allows someone to leave a bad spouse they were financially dependent on (or, more cynically, "upgrade" their spouse).

If I quit my job as a software engineer working at home and became a flight attendant - I think that would have a significant, negative impact on my marriage.

Of course, this is all horribly confounded by the fact of the decision. A person who switches from being a doctor to being a bartender is almost certainly non-standard among both doctors and bartenders; it would be tough to distinguish the impact of the changed career from the impact of "being the sort of person who makes this switch".

Making a drastic career change that is coupled with change in income, and doing so without getting a consensus with their spouse, would likely be at a higher risk to get a divorce anyway. They don't act as if they are in a partnership and are making unilateral decisions that can have immediate consequences for the marriage.

If instead, this was a joint decision, I agree with the authors assertions--making a change in career would not impact divorce risk.

Changes are hard even if both agree with them originally. Also, people change with their environment, so there might be subsequent chages in partners behavior.

Yeah, I think they probably would have been better off saying "it doesn't necessarily mean" -- it may well, but you might not be able to infer it from this data

Well, let's imagine that happens before marriage. Anyway, the point is well taken, IMO, despite the possible nitpicking about specifics.

If it helps imagine going from "misc. personal appearance workers" to "massage therapists."

>I'd say it almost certainly does significantly change their chance of divorce

Where's your data to break the Null Hypothesis?

Though, if the author of the article wanted to back up their claim, they would attempt to show to what degree drastic changes in career/income had ok divorce rate.

So is this the standard for posting opinions now?

It's obvious that OP (morgante) is posting as conjecture rather than canon.

Armchair hypothesis: these careers are highly correlated to extro- and introversion. Introverts are content in their relationships and/or less frequently get themselves into situations that lead to divorce. Call it the nerd coefficient.

A bartender is effectively at the helm of a revolving door of relationship opportunities.

There are very few jobs where simply "doing your job" gives you this opportunity.

Do bartenders, as an occupational demographic, suffer higher rates of alcoholism or alcohol abuse? - or lower rates owing to them seeing first-hand what alcoholism looks like? Does this include people who do bartending as a short-term job or gig (like students, the under-employed, people transitioning between careers)?

They have much higher rates of alcoholism.

I'd venture a different hypothesis: smarter people are more picky and peculiar, so when they find someone they like, they really like them and stick with them.

Also, if you're willing to suffer through difficult higher education, imagine the pains you'll endure in relationships to make that work also :)

> Also, if you're willing to suffer through difficult higher education, imagine the pains you'll endure in relationships to make that work also :)

This reminds me of a quote from Paul Grahams' "How to do What you Love" (http://www.paulgraham.com/love.html): "If you think something's supposed to hurt, you're less likely to notice if you're doing it wrong. That about sums up my experience of graduate school."

I have noticed a higher presence of tech people in the polyamory community. The two previous poly relationships I was in ended in friendship and a clean part. Just my two cents of experience.

Isn't "ended" the most relevant part of that, wrt this study?

Armchair conclusion: false. Introverts are more likely to use online dating sites and engage down other avenues that would not be natural, but rather virtual.

I don't know many of my jock friends growing up that had a "girlfriend" in an MMO, as an example.

Those things are not at all alike. Bartending means accidental social interaction; using an online dating site is deliberate. If you're in a relationship and using an online dating site, the relationship is probably already deeply on the rocks. If you're a bartender, you're more likely to accidentally meet someone you click with without even trying, which might imperil a relationship that's doing pretty well.

Armchair conclusion: false. As an introvert even online interaction with people can be exhausting.

Virtual socialization is more of a shy extrovert thing. An introvert will get exhausted after a lot of socialization, virtual or physical.

Online dating sounds incredibly high socialization to me. You scan through dozens of people in quick succession and interact with many of them. Talking to a single stranger in real life is way less demanding than that.

You're right to distinguish shyness from extroversion; as someone who became less shy without becoming any less introverted, it's not a clear association.

I find it amusing that the correlation vs causation point has morphed into arguing correlation is anti-causal (which is worse). I think if someone goes from being a doctor to being a bartender their divorce rate might be affected. I saw another data source that said the number one cause of divorce was financial so the correlation may actually be somewhat causal. Financial stress is brutal because it leads to conversations like cutting down on recreation and leisure and reducing spend on hobbies and downtime. This creates a kind of feedback loop where life adds stress and the resources to remove it are taken away because you no longer get to spend $X/month on your recreation because you needed to pay $Z on something else.

Yes, sure, but the correlation isn't absolute in the first place. As you can see, for instance, clergy members have anomalously low divorce rates for their income level; I'm sure you can imagine why that might be.

Even if their examples are ill chosen I think the point stands if you take two jobs with similar income and a big difference in divorce rate.

The main two reasons for divorce are infidelity and money issues.

So maybe audio engineers have the lowest divorce rates because they make good money and are quite concerned about fidelity? (This is my bad pun for the day).

Watch it, bub. That one should cost you your weekly allotment. ;-)

second time I see humor on hacker news today

is that becoming a trend now?

Some regard those as symptomatic of other problems or strongly correlate with other issues e.g. lack of restraint, cultural entitlement, issues with inhibition, poor math skills, societal definition and acceptance of "infidelity", addictions.

Infidelity and money issues are reasons for divorce in the same way that clouds are the reason it rains.

I feel a more valuable explanation would go deeper - into the underlying system that creates the result. In the case of rain, we call it the weather cycle.


google searching "main reasons for divorce" would have given you numerous sources. here's one: https://www.co-oplegalservices.co.uk/media-centre/articles-j...

Life experience. Common sense. Google.

Yep, sick of the "correlation is anti-causal". I assume correlation is causal (which is usually the case) until shown otherwise, which this article did not show.

There's a website where the author correlates random datasets against each other and displays the ones with really high R values.


With today's headline driven media, it's especially important to guard yourself against correlational relationships being implied as causative. It's not about saying whether something is true or false, it's about being skeptical and using the correlation as a starting point for further investigation.

I think assuming correlation is causal is bad as well. But it's a good sniff test. Usually something interesting is going on: sometimes it's A causes B, sometimes its B causes A, sometimes A and B have a common related cause. Sometimes C is non-causal but correlates with A and B and wasn't controlled for. Lots of possibilities.

Correlation is not causation but it's rarely accidental.

Correlation is usually accidental.

e.g. http://www.tylervigen.com/spurious-correlations

Saying that correlation is usually accidental is a stretch. Basing that claim on that (admittedly amusing) website is even more of a stretch: the time series on that website are all highly autoregressive with minuscule sample sizes, which makes spurious correlations extremely likely [1].

Speaking (very) roughly, the fact that they are autoregressive constrains how 'kinky' the shapes can be. Visually speaking, the time series will have a small number of inflection points and will appear interpolated between these points.

This greatly reduces the search space: you just need to line up a couple of kinks in a space of ten samples, or match two smooth and vaguely line-shaped objects, rather than find a convincing relationship for 100s of observations not tied together in time.

[1] http://citeseerx.ist.psu.edu/viewdoc/download?doi=

I've got some homeopathic remedies to sell you. People took them, and they got better!

I see your blog post and raise you a youtube video.

minutephysics Correlation CAN Imply Causation! | Statistics Misconceptions


I think if you measure random unrelated data sets against each other you're quite likely to find spurious correlations. If you design an experiment between potentially related variables with a potential hypothesis on how they are related and then observe data that matches the hypothesis, you probably have a reasonable chance the hypothesis is actually the explanation.

That is the point of experiments.

Make a list of all the things that have changed over the last century.

My height has increased over the last century.

How many things on that first list are caused by my increasing height? How many caused my increasing height?

Things that have increased over the last century:

- Calories available

- Vaccination rates

- Access to neo-natal care

- Knowledge about fetus and infant development

Correlation is insufficient to prove causation but in many cases it's a great hint.

So as calories available increases, it causes my height to increase?

I'm gonna need a new wardrobe...

You've confused an individual trend with a trend of the aggregate maximum value.

A couple of those may have a minor influence on the limit of my height, but increasing those factors has no effect on my height.

Or how about my age?

And don't forget other highly correlated values, like the number of movies or books published, Chinese population, cumulative deaths in war, and number of artificial satellites. There's a correlation of my age (and height) with each of those.

Just two temporal trends that move in the same direction.

No causation, though.

It's unwise to infer causality (which I'm sure you do more carefully than you suggest here) but it's equally unwise to assume independence.

Quite a few of the correlations between random datasets linked by a few posters below, for example, may be explainable by second-order effects.

This is how we get homeopathy and alternative medicine.

Out of the sea of correlations, we find a few drops of causation by analysis and experiment.

Most criminals have drunk milk.

Most criminals have been to school.

Most criminals have worn sneakers.

Should we conclude that milk, school and sneakers are causal factors in crime? Should we eliminate these 3 things from society?

I don't think you understand correlation. For crime and milkdrinking to correlate, criminals would need to drink more (or less) milk than non-criminals. A better example would be: umbrella-carrying and windshield-wiping tend to correlate, but they are both actually caused by a hidden factor: rain.

Milk-drinking is not CORRELATED with criminality. Criminals and non-criminals have (as far as I know, but I could be wrong) similar levels of milk-drinking. And so forth.

Unless you are using a different definition of "correlated" than I expect.

> it leads to conversations like cutting down on recreation and leisure and reducing spend on hobbies and downtime

Very good points and I agree with all.

Regarding recreation - I do very well and that conversation can still pop up. My wife doesn't have any hobbies and I have quite a few. I recently got into kayaking so there's a decent upfront cost. She'll make remarks like we need to cut back on spending or you're spending too much, how much was that, etc.

I just tell her - I could cut back on hobbies and spending but that would require me to cut back on work or abandon one of my companies. Then she gets quiet because she knows what that means. :) I also worked the health benefit angle which is always good with wives. She knows I'm going to spend however I want anyway but I try to get her to understand my reasoning and what the benefits are vs the cost.

It's important to enjoy the fruits of your labor and have fun, it's important to have hobbies, and it's important to get exercise.

Certainly you shouldn't spend wrecklessly like some people (take out a HELOC and buy crazy things like dune buggies like so many did in Vegas prior to the collapse), but every couple should save a set percentage (ideally 10%+) and have a discretionary budget. That way you don't get all the passive aggressive remarks and arguments when one of you spends money on themselves. It's already been decided.

That's because financial problems are the main reason for divorce. Dual engineering incomes should not have those problems.

Happily married to another engineer for 15 years. Now engineers also like to argue, so put two of them in the same household and see what happens. We do argue about finances, but it's me not wanting to spend money.

I think it's also possible that engineering-minded people choose their partners based on more pragmatic reasons, tend to think more about the long term. In opposition to choosing someone primarily based on physical attraction and sexual compatibility, or some mystical belief in love.

IMO, engineers less likely to do things the average couple might do, such as moving in together after a month, planning marriage six months in, and having a baby one year in, they're more likely to be patient and make more careful choices.

Marrying someone you aren't particularly attracted to or in love with sounds like a recipe for divorce to me.

I used to think that but it turns out that arranged marriages are quite successful: http://www.statisticbrain.com/arranged-marriage-statistics/

Obvious it's not as simple as comparing the divorce rate of love vs arranged marriages, cultural factors play a huge part but from what I've seen in India the fact that they're committed to making it work seems to make for happy couples.

perhaps the type of person that would agree to an arranged marriage is also the type not to object or try and break such a public contract/agreement.

Most people consider love what is better described as lust: a psychological attraction that lasts for about 2 years. If this is all you have to base a relationship on, then after 2 years the feeling wears off and the whole relationship is done.

By contrast, if your relationship is based on just about anything else, whatever those other things are are not as likely to change and so the basis of the relationship doesn't change either.

Parent comment was suggesting less attention given to physical attraction and more to other forms of attraction (personality, intelligence, SES, etc.), not that all forms of attraction were ignored.

I would think it would be just the opposite or least if there were financial incentive ok. You fall in and out of love all the time, or at least I do.

"Particularly" is ill defined here -- as is "attraction." Some aspects of attraction will go away over time (most obviously looks), others vary from time to time. What matters is the ability to love the partner even when you don't like them at a specific moment in time -- because those moments aren't the eternity.

That's what I was wondering. Could someone measure some kind of 'pickiness' measure to determine if bartenders just tend to get married fast where engineers tend to have a long courtship (or some other factor)?

While lack of money making problems worse is certainly an issue I wonder what (if anything) this says about how people choose partners in addition to how things work out.

Yeah, let's see an analysis which controls for income.

There's another graph that shows that divorce rate and average occupational income are linearly correlated, with higher income yielding lower divorce rates. This is all pretty well known, AFAIK.

The link above has a graph showing the industries by medium income. There's a pretty clear correlation, with some outlier professions.

(We've updated the submission title from “Engineering couples have one of the lowest divorce rates” to that of the article.)

Do you have a citation for this? Purely to sate curiosity.

Not precisely what you asked for, but financial disagreements strongly predict divorce: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1741-3729.2012....

Thank you!

Nope, just what my mother told me years ago, though a quick google search shows it's pretty high. I'd say it's the highest since "general incompatibility" can mean many things.

I can say that in my 20+ years in engineering, none of my colleagues are divorced. All the typical infidelity gossip is from the other side of the business; purchasing, program management, etc.

It was reported that in the lead up to the first iPhone release the divorce rate among those involved was fairly high. And I'm guessing game engineers probably don't do so well either.

Game industry has huge turnaround 5 years max - people tend to try it and the get out fast. Hopefully they dont divorce that fast. I would also guess most to be young and not married in the first place.

Interesting. Insofar as "infidelity gossip" is concerned, do you believe/perceive that the reason it comes "from the other side of the business" is because of some combination of traits that makes it more likely in those areas (or, inversely, that engineers lack some combination of traits that leads to a reduction in infidelity gossip)?

The infidelity or just the gossip about it? I can't say for sure, but I think the workload required (in school) for an "engineering major" vs. "business major" has something to do with it. If college shapes you, that's definitely the mold. The party'er types are weeded out. Could also be long term decision making vs short term, impulsive vs delayed gratification. Engineering is mostly long term thinking about what can go wrong.

Can someone explain to me what the x-axis means in the "Divorce Rate By Occupation" chart? It seems to be just a random distribution from -1 to 1, because the author wanted to use dots to represent each title. I suppose that's a very space-efficient way of representing the data, but it's also pretty tedious to have to mouse over everything, and it doesn't work well on a small screen.

Might have been better just to put this in a list.

It's a beeswarm plot, linked in the footnotes: https://bl.ocks.org/mbostock/6526445e2b44303eebf21da3b662732...

As such, the x-axis is a metric about the population, not the individual. I happen to use them a fair bit as I find them easier to intuit density from than the alternative, which is to plot on a single line with transparency.

I don't think there's any actual measure on the x-axis. It seems to be done for visual effect.

As a software engineer who's girlfriend is a doctor, I don't think either of us would have time to be chasing anyone else around. I wonder if that accounts for any of it.

Well, to support that thesis with negative examples, it seems being a bartender, flight attendant, or massage therapist isn't great for a marriage.

That might be an age thing. Once you have seniority in either field you gain a lot more free time if you want. Source: Am a software engineer, wife is a physician and we both have plenty of free time.

> If someone who is already a physician, quits and takes a job as a bartender or telemarketer, it doesn’t mean their chances of divorce changes.

Of course it does. Just try it.

I'm a little surprised the military divorce rate is so low. With the long periods of separation, I'd expect it to be higher.

Military does cut spouses checks, so there is direct financial incentive to remain married (at least on paper).

Long deployments / remote spousing also leave room for other arrangements. As long as the checks come in, why not remain married in name only?

Because adultery is something you get smacked for by the military legal system.

I know servicepeople get punished for adultery under UCMJ, but do their spouses?

If the spouse is a civilian then no. Civilians are not subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

They don't but it takes two people to make a marriage.

"Staying married in name only" means anyone under the UCMJ can't have sex _ever_ if its a marriage in name only.

As far as I understand it, they are not going to go digging if nobody is making a fuss.

Which means the one under the UCMJ is open to blackmail from their spouse if they fool around in a marriage in name only.

Yeah. Totally a reason to stay married in name only.

I guess, but the parent posts are describing a mutually beneficial arrangement.

I might be biased by the experience my friend from high school had up until he completed his service and got himself honorably discharged to make it stop.

It started out voluntary enough but the lack of a sex life led to that sort of problem.

Well, a vindictive spouse hardly needs the military to make your life difficult.

Getting married is a pretty big lifestyle change for enlisted soldiers. It enables them to go from living in a barracks to having private housing with their spouse. That is a non-trivial factor weighing in on the decision for many of them.

Most military positions aren't overseas or combat-related. I'd imagine it would be higher for those ones though.

A lot of the stereotypes we have about members of the military aren't grounded in anything but popular fiction.

It's actually a crime for military members to commit adultery, and it's taken pretty seriously (at least in the units I've been in). One can imagine that the penalty for adultery has an impact on divorce rates.

ETA: It's also illegal even if you are single but sleep with somebody who's married (whether the married person is military or not).

It's taken so seriously that those involved tend to almost never talk about it. They still cheat at the same rate as anyone else

"It's not cheating if it happened on deployment" is practically a meme. How seriously it's taken seems pretty inconsistent, to say the least.

Curious, do they make allowances for swingers and the like, where the extramarital sex is consensual?

The government has to prove that a person's conduct has direct negative impact on the military. If the acts are consensual, but it causes social problems later that's enough to get the person in trouble

All extramarital is still illegal, consensual included.

Infidelity is definitely higher, maybe they are better at keeping secrets?

They call it "opsec".

I don't understand why someone would get married right before their new spouse is about to be deployed to a combat zone.

Given they'll be gone a long time and the increased chances they'll come back missing parts or a Different Person (like Frodo after that little Ring adventure).

If you're dating and you die in combat, your girlfriend gets nothing. If you're married and you die, your wife gets $550k, assuming you've filled out the right paperwork. For a lot of people that's a good incentive.

Hmmm, $550k vs a lifetime of seeing your S.O. only a few months a year and a high prob they could be killed anytime thanks to Endless War.

I'm in the It's-Not-For-Everybody category.

People take a lot of risks that don't necessarily make pure logical sense when it comes to relationships.

My brief interpretation of the data: The more opportunities to switch and to cheat the higher the divorce rate (eg bartender, stewardess, dancer). And the lower the salary the higher the divorce rate (guess the financial pressure creates extra tension).

It doesn't give any information about the spouse's occupation or the combination of occupations in the former union.

A single earning bartender with an unemployed spouse should have like a 99% divorce rate, according to this chart.

Anecdotally..... I could see that.

I wonder if there's an inflection point as income increases. A divorced colleague once joked: why is divorce so expensive -- because it's worth it.

Similarly, I'm sure there are many poor people longing for divorce, but they can't afford it.

So what happens if a physician marries a bartender? Does that increase their chance of divorce or decrease it? (Maybe a silly question but it would be interesting to dig into this shallow report with a much more critical eye.)

Cross-class marriages have become much rarer over time than they used to be. But I'd expect a pretty likely outcome of that marriage to be a resignation handed in at the bar.

Getting married tends to increase the chance of divorce.

Increases it, obviously; a physician and a bartender who are dating but not married have a zero percent chance of getting divorced!

> a physician and a bartender who are dating but not married have a zero percent chance of getting divorced!

That's only true if they also have a zero percent chance of getting married.

Getting married will still increase the risk of divorce, because it bumps the odds of getting married up to 100%, but two dating unmarried people have, in general, a nonzero risk of getting divorced.

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