New Jersey may be ridiculed for “Jersey Shore’s aggressive driving and talking too fast”. However, the state is no. 1 when it comes to “happily ever after.”
The Northeast, specifically New Jersey, has the lowest divorce rates in the US, followed closely by New York, according to a U.S. Census report.
Church telethons and country music found in the Bible Belt, home to Southern hospitality, may brag about marital bliss, but it also has most divorces and more shotgun weddings.
Deborah Carr, a professor of Sociology at Rutgers University, said people may assume that people in the Northeast divorce easily because they’re less religious, but that’s not the case.
One reason why New Jerseyans stick together is the cost of divorce. It is just too expensive to head to splitsville.
7.2 per 1,000 men and 7.5 per 1,000 women were divorced in the Northeast. The rates were 10.2 for men and 11.1 for women in the South.
According to the 2009 American Community Survey, New Jersey’s rates – the lowest – were 6.1 for men and 6 for women.
Jean Grossman is from New Jersey and her story mirrors those statistics.
It was a classic case of a culture shock when she first moved to Texas. Grossman thought she had landed on the moon. She moved in with her husband in Dallas after getting married. He was pursuing a business opportunity. And she thought they were going into ‘happily ever after.’
Grossman, who has since moved to Montclair, where she’s a divorce coach, said nobody in her family had ever gotten divorced. However in 1993, almost a decade later, she asked her husband to move out. And three years later, they divorced.
Before returning to New Jersey in 2006, Grossman started a relationship with the man who would become her second husband. She is still living in the South.
Carr said the South sees more divorce for a couple of reasons. First, due to a lower rate of college attendance, Southerners tend to marry young. Second, because of a trend tied to religious beliefs, couples don’t usually move in together while unwed.
Also, they often frown upon birth control.
In addition, couples in the South are more likely to have non-marital pregnancies, which they carry to term and which then trigger shotgun marriages. There are also more marriages in the South.
Just above Maine, New Jersey had the second-lowest marriage rates.
While New Jersey’s marriage rate is 14.8 for men and 13.3 for women, Georgia’s is 22.1 and 20.4, respectively, the Census survey reported. The South’s marriage rate is 20.3, but the West is highest, at 20.7. The single state with the highest marriage rates for both men and women in Wyoming. Alaska ranks number one, with the highest divorce rate for women, at 16.2, although it’s not a Southern state.
In Texas, all the social stuff is pretty much set up around the church and the church of choice is Baptist and Grossman was neither of those.
A native of Albany, Georgia, Suzzane Najbrt, isn’t so quick to link marriage to church membership. Najbrt said in all the young women she knows who married young, not a single one was due to religion. Najbrt got pregnant and married at 18. She was divorced at 20.
She thought it would be all tweety birds and rainbows.
Bloomfield divorce blogger Joelle Caputa will feature Najbrt’s story in an upcoming book, “Trash the Dress: Stories of Celebrating Divorce in your 20s.”
Najbrt, who remarried eight years after divorcing her husband, said most of her girlfriends left their husbands. Acknowledging that living with a boyfriend was not an acceptable choice, Najbrt said she was engaged to him anyway, but the pregnancy sped up the wedding date.
Najbrt added that another common denominator she saw among friends who married young was a desire to leave their hometown.
In New Jersey, people tend to get married at an older age while the national median age for a woman’s first marriage is 26.5 and 28.4 for men.
Matt Eventoff recently celebrated his fifth wedding anniversary with his wife Nicole.
Eventoff’s parents were married in their early 20s and they are still together. Matt appreciates the fact that he waited until he was 33. Eventoff said he was more mature during marriage. And he was more established in his career. He felt that he was in a position where he could give more of himself.
Central New Jersey Successful Divorce Support Group, headed by Joseph DiPietro, has more than 800 members. The group aims to help divorcees start over at any age, said DiPietro.
Rick Verbanas, a member, lived in Atlanta for several years before his wife filed for divorce. To be near his two children, he moved to Somerville months later and won joint custody.
Verbanas is now an organizer for the Central Jersey Single Parents Meetup Group. He sees why New Jerseyans may not find divorce practical.
He said he pays $500 more monthly to rent half a house than he paid for a mortgage on a four-bedroom house in Atlanta.
He added the thousands of dollars a month that are going into having two separate locations versus one certainly has to play into peoples’ decisions.
Family law attorneys said choosing where to file for divorce can directly relate to the cost of living in that state.
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