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Why You’re Still Married, Or Not

July 8th, 2010  |  by  |  Published in Uncategorized  |  2 Comments

The Daily Beast has posted a roundup of cockamamie-yet-entirely-believable studies that purport to tell us whether we’re predisposed to divorce. Risk factors include some obvious things (marriage before age 18; couples where one person wants kids much more than the other) and some not so obvious but plausible ones (women in the military; travel + stress = frayed marriages, I guess). But then there’s this:

7. If you didn’t smile for photographs early in life, your marriage is five times more likely to end in divorce than if you smiled intensely in early photographs. Two tests, the first involving college yearbook photos and the second involving miscellaneous photos taken during participants’ youths, yielded this finding. “People who are optimistic— and that’s what smiles tend to show in childhood—find it easier to get along with people,” including the people they’re married to, asserts Coontz, who is also the author of Marriage: A History. Optimistic types “also find it easier to put up with periods in life that might be difficult.” Nonetheless, she warns: “Optimism is certainly not going to protect you from everything, so it’s no guarantee.”

FIVE TIMES MORE LIKELY? My wife and I both routinely grimace in front of the lens. Does that mean, in the aggregate, that our risk of divorce is ten times what it might be? A full order of magnitude? C’mon now.

On the other hand, we’re both fatalists, so maybe our own pessimism inoculates each of us against the other’s similarly dark outlook. That is, neither of us ever expects anything to go right, and we are rarely disappointed–which means we get along uncommonly well.


  1. karen says:

    July 8th, 2010at 2:12 pm(#)

    I figure if both of you were stone serious, you are in good shape. Of course, if you put much stock in the crap that is published to justify people doing stupid useless work with numbers to pay their bills by predicting your future (and mine), your kids (and mine) are totally screwed.

  2. Stefan says:

    July 11th, 2010at 10:22 pm(#)

    seems a pretty dubious link. what about all of us smirking oddly or not at all in those old pic’s to mask the horrible orthodontic construction sites behind the lips?

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