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Dutch Marriages Begun on Valentine’s Day Are More Likely to End In Divorce

1/1/11: The start of a doomed marriage.

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A new analysis of more than 1 million marriages has found that couples who marry on Valentine’s Day are more likely to divorce than those who wed on “ordinary” days. Nine years after their wedding dates, 21 percent of Valentine’s Day couples had split up, compared to 16 percent of couples who got married on any random day of the week.

The University of Melbourne study of Dutch marriage and divorce registries from 1999 to 2013 found that couples who chose other “gimmicky” dates like 9/9/99 or 1/2/03 for their nuptials were also more likely to divorce than regular-date couples, though they weren’t as doomed as those who picked V Day. Nine years after they married, 19 percent of couples with “same-number-date” marriages had divorced.

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This means that marriages that begin on Valentine’s Day or other special dates, which are up to five times as popular as regular dates, are 18 to 36 percent more likely to fail. The trend starts early: By the fifth anniversary of their marriages, 11 percent of couples who married on Valentine’s Day had divorced, compared to 10 percent of same-number-date marriages and 8 percent of regular ones.        

It’s not that the dates are cursed—it’s that certain kinds of couple are more likely to plan their weddings on dates that seem to have some kind of external meaning. People who got married on special dates were more likely to be on their second or third marriages and more likely to have kids. Women who chose these dates were more likely to be pregnant on the days of their weddings, and couples were less similar in education level and age.

“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,” said report co-author David Ribar in a statement. What, then, influences couples who marry on Valentine’s Day? Superstition? Consumerist ideas of romance? Plenty of great marriages have been built on far shoddier foundations than that. Here’s another theory: A wedding booked on a day five times as popular as any other would make for a marriage more likely launched in debt.

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