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What year do most marriages end?

Marriage is a major milestone in many people’s lives. While most couples enter into matrimony with the intention of staying together forever, the reality is that a significant number of marriages end in divorce. This raises an interesting question – is there a typical timeframe for when most marriages fall apart? Let’s take a look at some data on divorce trends to shed light on the common years that marriages end.

The 7-Year Itch

There is a popular belief that many marriages start to struggle around the 7-year mark, known as the “7-year itch.” This idea suggests that once the initial excitement of marriage begins to fade after around 7 years, couples may start to have doubts or get restless. Some research provides limited evidence for a slight spike in divorce rates around this timeframe.

One study examining over 3,000 marriages found a very modest peak in divorces occurring around 7 years. However, the overall divorce risk did not substantially accelerate until more years of marriage had passed. So while the 7-year itch may be real for some couples, it does not appear to be a dominant trend in when most marriages dissolve.

10 Years

Looking beyond 7 years, the 10-year mark emerges as a more significant point where marriages are most vulnerable to divorce. One study by the National Center for Health Statistics found 10 years to be the most common length of marriages prior to divorce.

Years Married Percentage of Divorces
Less than 5 years 20%
5-9 years 17%
10-14 years 16%
15-19 years 13%
20+ years 34%

As the table shows, the 10-14 years category accounted for 16% of divorces, the highest share compared to other marriage durations. Research has suggested some reasons why 10 years may be such a vulnerable time.

The initial infatuation stage of marriage has worn off. Couples become more aware of each other’s flaws and may start to grow apart. Disillusionment sets in. Raising children also creates stress and distraction from the marriage. In addition, other life events like career changes or aging parents can strain the relationship. These factors likely culminate to make 10 years a common crisis point.

Later Years

While 10 years represents the peak risk point, divorce remains relatively high in the later years of marriage as well. The 20+ years married category made up 34% of divorces, demonstrating that marriages can still fall apart after decades together.

Why would long-term marriages break up? Sometimes couples realize they have grown into completely different people. Major issues buried long ago may finally surface. Infidelity can also occur. Empty nest stress after children leave, retirement stress, and health problems can also test marriages.

Overall, the risk of divorce does seem to level off somewhat after 20+ years, likely because couples who have weathered ups and downs to get to that point tend to be more committed or satisfied with their relationship.

First 5 Years

While the middle years of marriage see higher divorce risk, the first few years are still relatively vulnerable. 20% of divorces occurred prior to the 5-year mark, which is substantial. Financial problems, conflict around roles, intimacy issues, and clashing expectations are common reasons for early marriage troubles. Immaturity and impulsiveness may also cause some quick divorces.

However, divorce rates are lower in the first few years perhaps because some couples give it more time and effort initially to try to make the marriage work after the major commitment of marriage.


In summary, the 10-year point is the most common final year of marriages ending in divorce, suggesting this timeframe is a particularly vulnerable period. However, marriages clearly can and do end in all years from the very beginning through later decades. The risk exists at any time. Overall, it appears getting past 10 years together does lower, though not eliminate, the hazard of divorce.

Remember that these are simply statistics and generalizations. Each couple has their own reasons for divorce and timeline. By being committed, working through issues, and keeping romance alive, marriages can defy the trends and go the distance for many joyful years together.