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The Straw that Breaks the Camel’s Back, Part II

By: Bridgette W. Gottwald, LPC, NCC

No matter how long you have been married, newlyweds and old married couples have one thing in common – they should never get too comfortable.

The Straw that Breaks the Camel’s Back, Part II: What Are My Risks for Divorce?  

If you read my previous blog post, this is a continuation of risks for divorce. Isolated studies give us a general picture and idea of how likely your marriage is to end in any given year. 

Year 9-15: Low risk 

By this time, relationship expectations may have become more practical over the years. Also, by this time, there are typically no longer infants in the house – thus a decrease of stress. Evidence reports that as children get older, relationship satisfaction rises. However, there is also evidence that divorce risk increases as children get older, thus much of this can be taken with an open mind and a grain of salt. Couples that make it to their 10-year anniversary “experience a lower divorce risk each subsequent year.” Although studies report that 20% of marriages end within the first 5 years, this number increases by 12% within 10 years. But between 10 years and 15 years the rate only increases by 8%, which leads us to believe that this is one of the states where your marriage is safest – between 10 and 15 years.

Year 15-20: Average risk

These days, many people now marry in their 30’s, which means year 20 puts them in their 50’s. The idea of divorcing in your 50’s has unfortunately become so common that similar to the seven-year itch, it has even developed its own name: gray divorce, which is a term coined by Susan Brown of Bowling Green State University. Similar studies have provided information that men and women over 55 are more likely to cheat. Many people get to the point where they feel as if they have spent the majority of their life unhappy and trying to make it work, and instead of continually trying with no result, they pivot and decide that they want to enjoy their remaining years differently.

What Does This Mean for Me?

Are you finding yourself nervous about your own marriage and relationship? Don’t fret! Remember that although there is truth behind them, these are just statistics – the data and facts. Never forget that there are always outliers, and you very well may be one of them. Think about the external factors and what is working against you, and do all that you can to beat the odds and cultivate your weak spots. So you have a history of cheating, then work on relationship intimacy and have discussions about each other needs and how well, or not well, they are being met. You may be from a divorced family yourself, which causes your odds of divorce to be increased by 69%. Tread lightly and make a conscious effort to not rush into things as parental divorce is “one of the highest risk factors for marital dissolution” (Amato & Deboer, 2001). Insulate yourselves against the risks, and most importantly, know what your risk levels are. Hopefully this blog post was able to increase your knowledge about your risks for divorce, and help you build self-awareness to the things amidst your relationship that you might want to pay closer attention to, or spend more time catering to.

One of the things I most often recommend to the couples I work with is for individuals to remember most importantly to always be gentle with one another. If you are together, then there is something special about the spark that exists between the two of you, and given that you care so much about one another, the things you say to each other have meaning and value.


Vinopal, L. (2021). A year-by-year guide to your risk of divorce. Fatherly. Retrieved from:

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