Odds are, I won’t stay married.

At this point we’ve all been told countless times that the divorce rates in the United States are hovering around 50% and have been for quite some time. Whether or not those stats are true is debatable, but they feel more and more real to me every day. I cannot count how many phone calls, emails, or text messages I’ve received in the past few years from people – no, from FRIENDS – telling me that their husband or wife is leaving them. That they’ve been cheated on or been unfaithful. That their marriage seems to be falling apart for one reason or another. It breaks my heart to see the reality of divorce, the devastation of broken dreams, and the toll it takes on their children. After all, I am one of those children.

My mother and father separated when I was just three years old. Their divorce was final by the time I was five years old, and then I never laid eyes on my father again until I was twenty-two. My younger sister and I were raised by our incredibly intelligent and independent single-mother. Fortunately, in our younger years, her family was around to help. Otherwise, she had no real community and we really were on our own. I share this background to tell you: the odds are not in my favor that I will stay married.

Stats aren’t completely clear, but it seems the risk of divorce goes up when one spouse is afflicted with any form of depression. The risk for divorce goes up 50% more when one spouse comes from a divorced home.  The risk for divorce goes up again about 36% for adults who were sexually abused as children.

My husband, my rock, comes into our marriage with none of these stains. His parents are still married, no history of depression or abuse of any kind. I, on the other hand, carry these black marks in my heart, marks I didn’t ask for or bring upon myself. I know that a lot of you carry them as well. Still, I am hopeful. I plan to stay married, to honor the commitment I made to my husband, and to give my own daughters a better chance at their future.

But, the reality of how fragile marriage really is keeps me awake at night. I know that if I want my marriage to last, if I want my friends to stay married, we can’t simply be hopeful and then shrug our shoulders when something bad happens. We need to arm ourselves, to get around people who care about our marriage, and to invest in one another.

If you are one of my friends who has been separated or divorced, please know that I love you. I wish more than anything that you didn’t have to go through it. I remember your pain, your frustration, your sense of loss whether you were the one who left or the one who got left behind. I know things are complicated. I know it’s not easy to stay married. I know separating and divorcing is a painful decision to be faced with. I pray you know that I have hope for you, too.

So, as a woman hoping to stay married against the odds, I hope you will root for my husband and I. We are rooting for you and will continue to read and research and love each other in a way that brings hope and light and a chance for all of us to push against the stats that linger over us. I’ve started this blog to be a place of encouragement. The only qualification I have is hope. So, I will often cite other resources and share real life stories. I hope you find the things I write about helpful on your own pursuit to #staymarried.


The #staymarried blog was created to offer hope, stories, and resources for couples who want to stay married.

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Thank you for reading, sharing, and being a part of this #staymarried community!

~ Michelle

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#staymarried: A Couple's Devotional by Michelle PetersonThe #staymaried Book is a 52 Week Couples Devotional, each chapter exploring how our faith works together with our everyday lives and with relationship research to give a fuller picture of how we can create a marriage that doesn’t simply last, but fulfills our lives and helps us pursue our dreams. Find out more about the book here.


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33 thoughts on “Odds are, I won’t stay married.

  1. Wow Michelle, I can’t wait to read more about your hope and fight to #staymarried. I am one of your divorced friends, and I learn so much from your and Tony’s marriage, as it gives me hope for my own future. Keep on doing what you are doing, and keep on tell us about it. I love you friend.

  2. It’s been hard, but I have learned that letting God’s love flow thru me, my marriage is being restored. My wife and I have been divorced, then remarried 6 months later. We had another point where a divorce was on the way. I have never stopped loving her, and stayed by her side no matter what happened. Even when she was seeing someone else. I have forgiven her.

  3. Can’t wait to see more and I hope this blesses us and many others along the way! What a great starting point for a resource all of us need!

  4. Good morning. I have read this twice. I read all your tweets on the subject and have lots of questions that mostly get answered when I reflect on my marriage and why I asked the question in the first place. 🙂 Thank you for sharing this and please let me know if you would ever like to share my story (ies). I don’t want to see people make this commitment lightly either. It hurts my heart and my family has seen it’s fair share of divorce. It sucks. Sometimes, the marriage wasn’t the best thing in the first place. In the first place. That’s something to consider, huh? Love you. Proud of you, always.
    Your Big Sister

  5. Oh how I loved this! I have loved your #staymarried FB wisdom and will continue to follow you here, too! I love when God fills someone with passion, and that person uses that passion to encourage others.

  6. Thanks for starting this. As a child of divorce I feel like the odds are stacked against me as well. We have always made an huge effort to communicate and take time to work on our relationship. I really look forward to reading this for new ideas on how to build a strong marriage. Good job Michelle.

  7. This is a great resource you way want to provide to readers: http://www.strongerfamilies.org/. I used to work there, about a decade ago. They are a Seattle non-profit providing lots of good resources, seminars, etc. — all based around exactly what your blog is about: staying married!

  8. What a great blog! For my husband and I, even despite significant trials, divorce has never been an option. Love isn’t about falling in and out of love with someone, but about choosing every day to continue to grow and walk on the same path with the person you originally made that decision with. I’ll be sharing this site and looking forward to reading more posts!

  9. As having been divorced when my oldest was 2….I have been married to my now current husband for nearly 10 years….It has been frustrating at times but we are in this for the long haul!

    I love your status messages on fb in regards to staying married. Looking forward to more of your blogs. <3

  10. Michelle, I am SO excited that you started this blog. God has placed this ministry on your heart and if you save even one marriage, it will have been a fight worth fighting. Thank you for following that prompt. You are a great writer and I so look forward to following your blog!

  11. Michelle: Your ability to so honestly express your life story, fears and vulnerability are an example of someone taking pains from her past and making something positive out of it. After watching your video at Great Lakes and reading this introductory post, I know your words will simply save marriages, and quite possibly save lives. After being married for 18 years now, I know nothing is guaranteed in our lives, and it is something you must work for and appreciate. After my wife and I lost our oldest son when he was hit and killed by a driver on a cell phone, we really learned how precious life is, and how it can be taken away. Yet, so many times, I think, families take one another for granted. Every day is a blessing, and every day there is something to be grateful for. I don’t ever pass up an opportunity to tell my wife or children, “I love you.” Those simple words and gestures can make a difference, as I believe your blog will to open hearts and minds and help people find a way to recommit to one another.

  12. I think “hope” is the best qualification there is to write a blog like this. Keep it up Michelle!

    Also, I want to put in a plug for the book “Babyproofing Your Marriage” by Stacie Cockrell, Cathy O’Neill, and Julia Stone. Filled with light-hearted but serious wisdom, anecdotes, and tips from the “man’s side” versus the “women’s side” it was an eye-opening (and funny!) read for both my husband and me. If nothing else, it will make you feel better about your marriage because “at least we don’t do that!”

  13. So thankful for the passion God as ignited in you about this. Justin and I are thankful to have people like you and Tony to encourage us and cheer us on as we do life. Even more importantly, we all need people to be real with us! I look forward to reading more !

  14. I stumbled onto your blog from pinterest and was intrigued enough to read this post. Your words hit incredibly close to home. My marriage ended about over a year ago because of some of the statistics you named. My spouse came from a broken home and had become severely depressed. He gave up on the marriage but I wasn’t ready to let it all crumble. I learned the hard way that when only one person is fighting for the marriage it can’t be held together. But reading your post and seeing that some people really are willing to fight, no matter what their background, has given me hope. Hope that maybe if I do get married again, I won’t be the only one fighting. So you see, I stumbled onto your blog from pinterest, but I’ll keep reading it because your hope is infectious.

    1. Hi Cally,
      I’m hoping right along with you for your future. Yours is just the kind of story that has kept me awake at night and propelled me to gather resources and write in the first place. Thank you for your transparency and for your encouragement.

  15. Thanks for a great website. I started my blog on marriage for many of the same reasons – I saw so many people suffering in their relationships and there are so many tools that can bring them relief from pain.

    There is a great book with lots of stats about marriage that you might like, it’s called: For Better, How the Surprising Science of Happy Couples Can Help Your Marriage Succeed by Tara Parker-Pope. In this book she quotes all kinds of research and one of my favorite discoveries was this:

    The divorce rate has actually been steadily falling since the 1970’s – According to Tara Parker Pope – it’s possible the 50% divorce rate myth has trained a generation to be ambivalent about marriage and divorce. Lowest divorce rate (19% is for couples who delay marriage until after college and after age 25). 81% of those couples stay married.

    81% that is an AMAZING statistic. I thought you might find it as inspiring as I did.

  16. Please don’t forget to put into your marriage “library” the book from John M. Gottman, Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work.

    I applaud your honesty and just got your blog. Thank you for reaching out to those who need to hear the message, stay married.

    Looking forward to more reading and encouragement as well as sharing it with our married community on our adult Sunday School class FB page, pfb The Biblical Marriage – out of Pomona, CA.

  17. Your life is an inspiration and a testament to what marriage can and should be. When everything around us in society seems to be evidence that marriage is a temporary construction, your words offer a much-needed contradiction…an oasis in a cultural desert. Thank you.

  18. I came on your blog at Pinterest. I liked you on Facebook and a little of my story. I’m married to a wonderful and great man. The problem you ask, well, my previous husband accidentally committed suicide, and I feel at times in still grieving over that relationship. I do love my current husband, yet at a loss as to what to do some times. My husband and I have been married a almost 2 yrs. My other husband will be gone from me 3 yrs. So I read your blog and I see I have to work on this marriage everyday and I’m encouraged by y’all. Thank you, Diana

  19. I am so glad to find your site. I am actually struggling and frustrated with my marriage and I have no one to talk to and express my feeling with. Sometime I just need someone to listen and vent out all my sad and lonely feelings. Someone who can understand, give me some wisdom about marriage.

    After many challenges and arguments, I cant help to think “what is the meaning of marriage?” why two ppl used to love each other so much turned into arguing machines? everything are so unhappy and depress. I honestly dont know what to do with my marriage and seeking for help.

    1. Hi M,
      I hope you find #staymarried to be a resource and a comfort to you. Marriage is indeed very hard work! My husband and I are in your corner and rooting for you! Also, please take advantage of the resources section of our site. There you will find links to counseling networks as well as other books and materials we believe in.

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