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U.S. divorce rate continues downward trend

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Posted: Tuesday, March 26, 2013 10:23 am

Couples with Kids Less Likely to Split

AUSTIN, Texas - The divorce rate in the United States continues to fall, but a large percentage of couples still call it quits despite their vows of "for better or worse."

The reasons can vary as much as the individuals involved, although experts have pointed out ways to safeguard a marriage, especially when children join the family.

Babies and children can bring stresses ranging from a lack of sleep to extra expense and housework, said marriage counselor Patricia Mackie, so it is vital for two parents to be on the same page.

"If parents aren't really talking about how they're going to raise their children - they're not talking about their style, they're not in agreement on what they're doing, whether it's attachment parenting or any other style of parenting - that's very difficult on a marriage," she said.

Another key to getting through those first few years with children, Mackie said, is making sure fathers are not left feeling like a "third wheel," as sometimes can happen.

"What research shows is the more that dads are involved, the more they get involved in the parenting and the daily lives of their children and playing with their kids and their wives together, the better their marriages are," she said. "That's just a crucial piece, as far as marriage goes and attachment parenting: Dads have to be involved."

While children can bring challenges to a marriage, Mackie noted, couples with children actually have a lower divorce rate than do those without them.

"One of the things research is also showing is that couples who share a family-centered view of family life and value raising children (are) more emotionally invested in each other," she said, "and they're less prone to divorce than those couples who don't have children or who don't necessarily value that family life and the raising of the children."

The divorce rate in America peaked at around 50 percent in the 1980s and slowly has been trending downward. It is now slightly more than 40 percent.

The biggest issue marriage counselors now are seeing is technology, Mackie said, as more laptops, iPads and cell phones are adding distractions - even in the bedroom.

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