Has your marriage lasted 50 years? Congratulations, you’re old

Just kidding: Congratulations, you’re old and have had a long marriage.

The Washington Post magazine has a feature out today called “The secret to a long-lasting marriage.” I don’t have a general comment on it, because I only made it to the third paragraph, and it’s probably worth reading.

But the third paragraph is funny:

They have beaten the odds of death and divorce: Of all current U.S. marriages, only 7 percent have reached the 50-year mark, according to the National Center for Family and Marriage Research at Bowling Green State University.

It is certainly true that making it to the 50-year mark of marriage means you have beaten the odds of death and divorce. But that 7% figure has nothing to do with it, because it includes people who got married yesterday!

Here is the breakdown of when people got married, among people married right now (in the 2014 American Community Survey, which has to be the source for that statistic):


So the statistic is correct: only 7% of currently married people have been married for 50 years or more. Good for them! To bad for all those other people they were born so recently.

It’s all in the denominator. Sure, 50-year marrieds are rare, but compared to what?

With the ACS we can answer a more relevant question, which is this: among living people whose most recent marriage was 50 years ago or more, what is their current marital status? This is a little more encouraging: half are still married.


So let’s restate the original congratulatory message like this:

They have beaten the odds of death and divorce: Of all people who tied the knot 50 or more years ago, and who haven’t yet died, only 50% percent have made it this far without divorcing or becoming widowed, according to the American Community Survey.

Many happy returns.

21 thoughts on “Has your marriage lasted 50 years? Congratulations, you’re old

  1. Perhaps more troubling is that the article perpetuates the simplistic idea that long-lasting marriages can be explained by the personal, interpersonal, and cultural characteristics of individuals. Even worse is that the article presents lifelong marriage as the preferred, ideal, and morally correct form of personal life that everyone aspires to. Such a view contributes to the stigmatization and marginalization of serially married and cohabiting men and women as well as other people whose personal lives deviate from this traditional relational norm.


    1. more troubling is that the article perpetuates the simplistic idea …

      Blah blah blah. It’s Valentine’s Day. Pull the stick out of your Social Justice arse for a day.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. The revised graph still leaves out everyone who remarried, even though they’re very much relevant when discussing the odds of death and divorce.

      Instead of people whose *most recent* marriage was 50+ years ago, the denominator should be people whose *first* marriage was 50+ years ago.


  2. But that 7% figure has nothing to do with it, because it includes people who got married yesterday!

    IOW, these highly educated academicians who are supposed to know statistics failed epicly?


  3. Ron’s much better question to be asked: How many people age 68 and older have been married for 50 + years, gives the state of things as they actually exist, as opposed to an idealistic or notional idea of them.


    1. However, very few are still married. Back in the early sixties and during the fifties, people back then tended to marry right out of high school to the first person they ever dated or married while in college. Being past 25 ad not being married was comparatively rare. Most of you were not alive then. The fact is divorces were rife in people who married very young.


  4. We were married in 1967, and celebrate are 50th last year. My parents were married for 60 years, and my wife’s parents were married for 65 years. We all took the oath “to death do US part” SERIOUSLY


  5. We were married in 1969. I guess a more meaningful statistic would be to know what percent of marriages that took place in 1969 are still married and will hit 50 years next year.


  6. We are so excited…married 12.27.69…will 50 years!! We cannot believe it. Been quite a journey…amazing!! Fun, silly, just grand!! Sure ups and downs but we are making it!!


  7. We were 19 and 16 when we met, and dated for the next 2 years. We were engaged for 1 year more and married in 1965. We are 76 and 73 now, but 1 lifetime together shall not have been enough. Simply put, we have loved each through joy and adversity, and have not forgotten our vows before God and man to see it all the way through. Our marriage just gets better and better!


  8. We met on Jan 22 1956–married Jan 29 1956. I was 21 , she was 19. Now I am 85, she is 83. We will celebrate our 64th on the 29th. Lee Roy / Juanita


  9. My wife and I have been married over 51 year after January 4,2020 (51 yrs) or 1.6 Billion Seconds (real number no joke). We have a few examples how we made it over 51 years to share.
    Only 7% of America couples made it to 50 yrs. If more couples could made it closer to 50 yrs, 30 or 40 yrs would help America a lot. An average of 20% to 35% would change our USA in many good ways. 😄


  10. Nov 2, 2020–My wife and I were married Nov 18, 1967. We met when we were 10 years old, two-and-a-half years after my Mom died and we were visiting my younger sister and brother who were adopted by the best friends of my wife’s parents. I was placed in an orphanage with four of my siblings and we visited them occasionally on weekends. Through the years, we wrote to each other, but I moved to California following high school graduation and lost touch with her for a few years. While going to school and working in New York, we made contact again and wrote to each frequently and I flew back to Iowa two or three times per year to visit. We were engaged Jan 1, 1966. I was finished in New York in June, 1966 and went back to Iowa. In July, my fiancee wanted to give the ring back to me and told me she wasn’t sure she wanted to get married. I told her to keep the ring in case she changed her mind. In August I joined the Army, spent eight months training and then was sent to Vietnam. In March, 1967, while I was in Oakland, Ca, I called my ex-fiancee and she told me she had put the ring back on and wanted to be engaged. I was wounded on Sept 4, 1967 and send back to the States for eight months of rehabilitation. During this period of convalescing, we got married, as noted above, on Nov 18, 1967. We raised four children through all the ups and downs of life and are still happily married for these soon-to-be 53 years. I was once told that “our story” was a “true Love Story.” I write this rather wordy discourse just to say that being married to the same woman for 53 years has its many rewards and benefits, among them being the ability to finish each other’s sentences. I made a commitment before God and man to “love, honor and cherish” my wife “till death do us part.” I intend to keep that commitment. I will be 78 on Dec 24th and my wife turned 77 on Sept 10th. We are looking forward to our remaining years together. Who said long-range love relationships don’t work? We proved they can.


  11. Well
    I really enjoyed the comments and stories and detail.
    My wife and I married 46 years ago in August.
    We understand ups and downs, she got Ms at age 33. in about seven months we will have been married 47 years. Both our parents we’re divorced. We really look forward to making 50 years with the rest of you. We are proud of the fact that we were able to do “restarts“ every time we have a strong disagreement.

    I think listening and understanding and realizing your partner helps you do something wonderful (become a better person) and to offer things that you don’t know.

    We think the combination of the differences makes us better people. We still love each other and hope to be married for eternity. And we believe we will😂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My husband and I were married for 51 years. He died in 2020. In all those years my husband never called me by my name which is Rosalie. My nickname was Tootsie which I hated and was used by everyone in my family. My husband always called me “dear” but never used my nickname or my birth name. I wonder to this day why that was the case. My husband was an engineer, an introvert, a kind, patient , quiet, and giving man. He was not demonstrative in his affection but never failed to return my demonstrations. He was willing to do anything for me but having a conscience i was always reasonable in my requests. What I miss most of all is his telling me as he held me that all will be OK. I would really appreciate some theories about his not using my name.


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