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Fewer and fewer Americans are gettingdivorced, with the rates falling 18% between 2008 and 2016.


Among American adults, there is support fordivorce when couples do not get along. Women, people from underrepresented racialand ethnic groups, and adults who have experienced divorce personally or amongfriends and family are especially likely to be accepting.


Despite this growing acceptance, thedivorce rate dipped again in 2018. The decline began in 1980 or 1990, dependingon the data source and experts. According to the Centers for Disease Control,the number of divorced persons per 1,000 Americans fell from 4.7 in 1990 to 2.9in 2016.


Who is driving this downward trend? Adultsage 45 and younger.


US divorce rate
In 2017, there were 2.9 divorces for every1,000 Americans. The rate of divorce has steadily declined over the past fewdecades.


Younger adults


Young adults are being more decisive – innot only the timing of their nuptials, but also their choice to marry.


Many of these younger adults choose tomarry after they have achieved their desired levels of education, establishedcareers and stabilized their finances. They also want to be “bonded” with amate based on love, friendship and common interests, not social obligation.


In the U.S., the median age at marriage hasrisen, from 26.1 for men and 22 for women in 1890, to 29.8 for men and 27.8 forwomen in 2018.


Marriage age for U.S. women
In 1963, the average woman married aroundage 20. By 2017, the age had risen to 27.4.


I am a human development and family studiesscholar who has spent 20 years studying intimate relationships. In one study, Iexamined the perspectives of 52 married black men. Achieving their goalsrelative to education, work and finances was a significant factor in decidingwhen to marry their wives.


Men praised how the unxs with their wivesafforded them secure attachment and emotional support, as well as enhanced lifesuccess. Nearly one-quarter emphasized the role of individual development andbeing ready for the type of commitment that a successful marriage requires.


A report commissioned by the AARP offersinsight into the nature and consequences of gray divorce. Women’s economicindependence may help them opt out of these unhappy marriages.


Some older adults end their unhappy unxsbecause they have grown apart. In her dissertation and forthcoming book,marriage and family therapist Crystal Hemesath defines falling out of romanticlove as a lack of sexual attraction, emotional connectedness or sense ofrelationship togetherness.


After older adults have perhaps cared fordependent children, parents or other relatives, spouses may reassess theirmarriages and ask, “What’s next?,” “Who are you?” or, better yet, “Who am I?”


Hemesath interviewed 15 adults. Laura, a59-year-old woman who was married for 18 years, said this: “It wasn’t until mydad became gravely ill. I would say to my husband, ‘Will you go in and see ifdad’s okay?’ He’d say, ‘He’s fine.’ It causes you to look at your ownmortality. This person is still emotionally unavailable and distant and if Idon’t get out now, I’m doomed. I was unhappy in year one and I stayed 17 more.I hoped that it would change. I didn’t really have the courage to get out. Ithink a lot of people stay in … for fear of the unknown. It sort of takes yoursoul away.”


This is an important change in the way inwhich adults approach marriage.