How to Stay Married: Splurge on the Honeymoon, Not the Open Bar

Fleur and Bill's weddingYes! I love semi-meaningless but confident-sounding statistics based on averages, especially ones about relationships, and especially ones about the intersection of money and relationships. This Atlantic essay, titled “The Divorce-Proof Marriage,” is basically the equivalent of a bag of dark-chocolate-covered pretzels. Share my joy:

According to a new study, spending between $2,000 and $4,000 on an engagement ring is significantly associated with an increase in the risk of divorce. … You should date for three years before popping the question. Be wealthy, but don’t be a gold-digger. Have a huge wedding, but make sure it’s cheap. And whatever you do, don’t skip the honeymoon.

“Be wealthy” is pretty vague. Here’s what the statistics show: “Couples who make more than $125,000 a year (combined) cut their divorce risk in half.” So, yeah. You don’t have to be wealthy for San Francisco, just wealthy for Arkansas. If you can’t swing that, attend religious services with some regularity — it confers a similar benefit. 

The data points about weddings are a bit bizarre. Size matters: the bigger the reception, the greater the chance is of you staying together. 200+ guests gossiping over lukewarm fish? Ideal. But somehow do it all for free: “The more you spend on your wedding,” Olson notes, “the more likely you’ll end up divorced.” Confusing, right? Let’s skip that muddle and go straight to the fun stuff: definitely prioritize the honeymoon, whatever the cost. “Honeymoons decrease the chances of divorce by 41%.” My new groom and I spent two weeks in northern Japan during what turned out to be Typhoon season. Oops! But hey it was a bonding experience. I actually recommend a little honeymoon adversity. It makes you hold hands tighter.

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