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Health & Sex

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Which Marriages Last 10 Years?

Trove of Marriage, Cohabitation Data Released by CDC
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

March 2, 2010 -- Will your marriage survive at least 10 years? The odds are worse if you're young or have no kids during the marriage, the CDC reports.

The findings come from a new CDC report on U.S. marriage and cohabitation. The data were collected in 2002 in one-on-one interviews with a nationally representative sample of some 7,600 women and 5,000 men.

The report is based on heterosexual relationships, defining cohabitation as a man and a woman living together in a sexual relationship without being married.

Here are some highlights of the report.

Which Marriages Last 10 Years?

Get married young, break up young. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:

• 54% for women and 47% for men who get married between ages 15 and 19

• 64% for women and 65% for men who get married between ages 20 and 25

• 76% for women and 73% for men who get married at 26 or older

Do children affect marriages? Apparently so. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:

• 34% for women and 37% for men who have no children during the marriage

• 55% for women and 65% for men who have a first child by their eventual husband or wife before marriage

• 79% for women and 79% for men whose first child is born at least eight months after marriage

• Having children doesn't mean the marriage lasts a lifetime. 1997 data show that only 57% of marriages last 15 years, and only half last 20 years.

Will your marriage last longer if you first explore living together? Maybe not -- even if you cohabit with your eventual spouse. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:

• 60% for women and 62% for men who ever cohabited

• 61% for women and 63% for men who cohabited with their first spouse

• 66% for women and 69% for men who never cohabited

Education makes a difference. But there's at least one surprise here: Just getting a high school diploma doesn't help, but a college degree makes a big difference. The odds of a marriage lasting at least 10 years are:

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