High rate of Valentine’s Day marriages are doomed

Getting hitched on Valentine’s Day is not as romantic as it may seem with divorce rates for people who have a February 14 anniversary being significantly higher than the rest of the population, a new study suggests.

The Melbourne Institute of Applied Economic and Social Research released a report this week which showed people who get married on Valentine’s Day or other numerically special dates (e.g 1/2/03 or 9/9/99) are more likely to end in divorce.

Resrachers found 21 per cent of Valentine’s Day marriages and 19 per cent of numerically-specific-day marriages resulted in divorce after nine years, while only 16 per cent of other marriages had the same outcome.

Melbourne Institute deputy director David Ribar and Melbourne Institute researcher Jan Kabátek said the increase in divorce rates was not because of the dates, but the relationship factors governing the couples’ choice of dates.

“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,” Prof Ribar said.

“Commitments that deepen because of outside factors are likely to be less compatible and more fragile than those that deepen because of internal factors… Marrying on a romantically or numerically special date will be more appealing to couples with externally-driven commitments.”

Prof Ribar said many countries offered externally-driven incentives as encouragement for couples to get married, which could lead to higher divorce rates.

“Many countries have considered or tried policies to encourage marriage, almost always through external incentives like subsidies or tax breaks. The internal/external hypothesis suggests marriages that are prompted by these kinds of incentives will be relatively vulnerable,” he said.

Dr Kabátek said people getting married on “gimmick” days were also generally less alike.

“Spouses who married on special dates were less alike, in terms of education and ages, than spouses who married on ordinary dates,” he said.

The report used marriage and divorce registries from the Netherlands over 14-years, which showed weddings were 137-509 per cent more likely to occur on these “special” days.

The authors said their report “Not Your Lucky Day: Romantically and Numerically Special Wedding Date Divorce Risks” was the first of its kind.

The study examined about 1.1 million marriages.