Item from the Smart Marriages Archive, reproduced in the Divorce Statistics Collection

Many marriages prove to be a roller coaster, but they don't have to be.

Alabama divorce rate 6th highest in the nation

BIRMINGHAM, February 13 ­p; John Mangels has been married for eight years. He says he loves his wife deeply and after all this time, his marriage is still very strong.

"My wife's my best friend," he said Saturday while choosing some flowers
for Valentine's Day. "I talk to her and we love each other."

But a new report released this weekend shows that John's marriage could
be the exception instead of the rule. The report, titled "Breaking Up Is
Hard On You: The High Co$t of Divorce," by Dr. John Hill of the Alabama
Family Alliance, and Dr. Nick Stinnett of the University of Alabama,
shows that Alabama families have the sixth-highest divorce rates in the
United States. The divorce rate of 6.2 per 1,000 couples is forty percent
higher than it was in 1970, the year no-fault divorce was legalized in
this state.

"The state is pretty much maxed-out on divorce and unless we do
something, it looks like we're going to continue to have a very high
divorce rate," said Dr. Hill.

The report cites incapacity as the top reason for divorce, followed by adultery, abandonment, imprisonment and crime against nature as the top five reasons for divorce in Alabama.

Marie Haggard, who has been married for thirty years, says marriage is a
very, very difficult institution to hold together.

"It's a hectic life. It's stressful. People move, you don't stay in the
same place and sometimes you change."

John Mangels says he doesn't plan to become one of the statistics. He
says the key to a successful marriage is communication. But too often
couples don't do it soon enough. Experts say people don't get to know
each other before taking the big plunge.

"You need to ask about our finances, where are we going to church, how
many times are we going to visit your relatives every year, how many
children are we going to have," says Hill. He says small problems and
disagreements like these can add up quickly and lead to divorce.

Hill says pre-marital counseling can help identify problems before they
creep into your life and they can actually make the marriage stronger.

And finally, Hill says, remember that after the honeymoon, the work
doesn't end, it begins.

"It takes a lot of give and take, a lot of loyalty to the other person
and a lot of love and caring."

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