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Why are Valentine's Day weddings more likely to end in divorce?

If you're in the midst of planning a Valentine's Day wedding, or know someone who is, you may find a recent study about the fate of couples who marry on so-called "gimmick" dates interesting. This includes not only holidays, but special-number dates that many people considered to be good luck.

For example, July 7, 2007 (7-7-07) was a popular one. So was Nov. 11, 2011 (11-11-11). Even Sept. 10, 2011 (9-10-11) was a date chosen by many couples.

A study by some leading Australian economists found that marriages that began on these popular wedding dates were more likely to end in divorce than those of couples who married on seemingly ordinary dates. Researchers studied marriage and divorce data in the Netherlands covering more than one million couples between 1999 and 2013.

The economists postulated that it wasn't the dates themselves that were a harbinger of marital collapse, but the characteristics of couples who chose those dates. For example:

-- Spouses had less in common "in terms of education and ages."

-- They were more likely to have been previously married and have children.

-- Valentine's Day brides were more likely to be pregnant.

One researcher noted, "Couples who marry on ordinary dates may be more strongly influenced by characteristics of their relationships and their compatibility than couples who marry on special dates."

So, just how much greater was the likelihood of divorce? It actually wasn't significant. The study found that after five years, 11 percent of couples who married on Valentine's Day and 10 percent of those who married on dates with the same number were no longer together, while 8 percent of those who married on "ordinary" dates had called it quits. The spread was about the same after nine years (21, 19 and 16 percent, respectively).

Of course, if you've always dreamed of a grand Valentine's Day or Christmas wedding, there's no reason to let these findings stop you. Often, couples choose other dates that are significant to them, such as the birthday of a parent who's no longer alive or the anniversary of the day they met. Perhaps it's more important to look at the characteristics of those couples whose marriages were more likely to end in divorce than the dates themselves.

Source:, "'Gimmick' date weddings more likely to end in divorce, according to study," Crys Ja, Sep. 28, 2016

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