Marriage rates are up, and divorce rates are down, new data shows

After Covid-19 lockdowns, 2022 was a year of marriages, according to new data.

The number of marriages took a dive around the start of the pandemic, numbers show. For the past two decades, the number of marriages stayed around 7 to 8 per 1,000 people a year, according to new data released by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s National Center for Health Statistics.

But in 2020, the marriage rate was down to 5.1 per 1,000 people, the data showed. The rate started to climb the next year, and by 2022, the number of marriages had reached 6.2 per capita and over 2 million in a year, according to the report.

Growth in marriage rates may be due to more than just rescheduling, said Marissa Nelson, a licensed marriage and family therapist in Washington, DC.

Being in lockdown together gave many couples a unique hurdle to overcome, one that made them get intentional about how they approached important things like finances, compromise and autonomy. Many people walked out of that experience with a better sense of what they need in a life partner, Nelson said.

Divorce rates are going down

Intentionality may also be behind declining divorce rates, she added.

In 2022, the divorce rate was 2.4 per 1,000 people. Although that isn’t the lowest it has ever been – in 2021, it was 2.3 – it continues a downward trend, according to the data.

By comparison, the rate of divorces in 2000 was 4 per 1,000, which means the current rate is a big decline from two decades earlier.

Being stuck in a home together during lockdown forced a lot of couples to face problems in their relationship head-on, Nelson said. That might have caused additional strife, or it could have helped them lay better groundwork for a stable future, she added.

Changes over the past two decades may also have helped. Therapy has become more normalized, roles in marriages have become more flexible, and people are more used to talking openly about how they want their marriages to work, Nelson said.

Changing how we pick our partners

Another big change recently has been the way people enter marriages, said Ian Kerner, a licensed marriage and family therapist and CNN contributor.

“In my practice over the last decade, I’ve noticed a gradual shift from the ‘romantic marriage’ to the ‘companionate marriage,’ meaning that people are increasingly choosing spouses at the outset who are more like best friends than passion-partners,” Kerner said via email.

Doing so may lead to problems with attraction, but it also means those people are choosing partners based on qualities likely to promote long-term stability and satisfaction, he said in a previous CNN article.

“At its bare minimum, the concept of commitment implies the experience of being bonded with another. At its very best, it means being bonded with someone who is a consistent safe and secure home base that will be there for you in the face of any adversities,” said Dr. Monica O’Neal, a Boston psychologist, in a recent CNN article.

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