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In the past 30 years, the number of couples divorcing has risen sharply, and more and more couples are choosing common-law unions. Yet most Canadians continue to marry—some more than once in their lives.
In 2001, just over 16.6 million people aged 25 and older had been legally married at some point in their life. Of this group, 89% had married once; 10% had married twice. Less than 1% of Canadians had tied the knot more than twice during their lifetime.
The likelihood that a marriage will succeed is generally higher for those who marry in their thirties, do not live common-law before the wedding, have children, attend religious services, are university-educated and believe that marriage is important for their happiness.
The longer a couple has been married, the greater their chances of staying together, both in a first marriage and in subsequent marriages. For example, someone who married for the first time in the 1960s is at 13% lower risk of breaking up than someone who married in the 1970s. However, the risk is 67% higher for someone who married in the 1990s.
The chances of a breakup are even higher for couples in a second marriage. People who remarried in the 1980s have a 43% greater risk of breaking up than those who remarried in the 1970s.
Among adults whose first marriage ended in divorce, 43% were remarried at the time of the 2001 General Social Survey. Research indicates that the support of family and friends plays a key role in the quality of the marital relationship, especially in couples where both partners are remarried.