The 30 Worst States to Be Married, Ranked
Love is a beautiful thing, but marriage isn’t easy. It’s not always lasting either. While it’s common knowledge that about 50 percent of all marriages end in divorce, the odds vary greatly across the U.S. Different states have drastically different divorce rates due to a number of factors, such as poverty rates, rates at which individuals attend college, what age couples marry and whether or not they have kids.
While divorce rates are still relatively high, the good news is that there’s been a major decline since 1990, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Research says that’s largely thanks to millennials, who seem to be staying married longer. Part of that could be for financial reasons (because, well, millennials are broke). But other reasons are at play, too, like waiting longer to get married in modern times.
There are still parts of the country that fare better than others, though, when it comes to marriage. Here are the 30 worst states to be married, with the highest rates of divorce in the U.S., per 1,000 total population. We also included information from the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2017 American Community Survey to highlight the different population stats regarding marriage and divorce. Let’s just say, you may want to reconsider moving if a happy marriage is something you want for your future.
While the great state of Michigan ranks in the middle of the road socioeconomically, their marriage rates are above average! Coming in at No. 30, that means the Great Lakers just happen to be pretty great at marriage, too.
There were only 2.8 divorces per 1,000 residents in 2017, which is a significant jump from 1990 when the rate was 4.3. While the state’s poverty level isn’t great, the minimum wage is on the higher end, helping Michiginians make ends meet and marriages prevail.
As one of the wealthiest states, it makes sense that Connecticut is connecting the dots on how to make marriage work. The New England state had 2.9 divorces per 1,000 total residents in 2017 and 3.2 back in 1990.
The state’s poverty rate is one of the lowest, too. Since most residents are able to stay on top of their finances, that makes maintaining marriage a whole lot easier.
28. Rhode Island
It’s the smallest state we have, but it clearly has heart. When it comes to love that lasts, Rhode Island is pretty on point.
In 2017, there were 2.9 divorces per total population in Little Rhody (yes, that really is its nickname). Also small was the decline from the early ’90s, as it only dropped a small percentage, from 3.7, but that’s OK, considering it wasn’t all that high to start.
In northeastern Vermont, marriages are hanging in there. There were 2.9 divorces per 1,000 total population in 2017, and 4.5 in 1990. Vermont’s economy is in good standing, which helps out on the marriage front, but the poverty level is just about average.
Of course, there’s a lot of natural beauty to be seen up north, which likely keeps the residents happy and feeling romantic. Or perhaps it’s all that maple syrup that helps folks up in Vermont stick together.
The industrial state of Ohio has struggled economically over the years, though it’s seen major growth in recent ones. That’s likely helped push the divorce numbers down!
In 1990, the residents were divorced 4.7 times per 1,000 residents, which decreased to only 2.9 in 2017. That means the Buckeye State is working hard to keep churning out marriages that keep.
The Magnolia State is one of the poorest economically speaking, but not when it comes to marriage.
Yet another state with only 2.9 divorces per 1,000 total population, that puts Mississippi pretty low on the worst states for divorce list. In 1990, the rate was 5.5, which means Mississippians saw some of the biggest improvements in living happily ever after.
Out in the Great Plains, the marriage success rate is just about on par with the national average. Divorce rates only dropped by 1 from 1990 to 2017, going from 4.0 to 3.0.
That lines up with the state of Nebraska’s socioeconomic status, too, which also falls right in the middle of the 50 states. While the poverty rate is not great, they have the 15th highest GDP per capita, which helps the economy of the state as a whole and helps couples stand the test of time.
We know Virginia is for lovers — a sentiment that seems to (mostly) hold true here. Virginians come in at No. 23 (or No. 22, considering it’s tied with Delaware) on the most likely to divorce list.
They only had 3.0 divorces per 1,000 total residents in 2017, which fell slowly over the years from a rate of 4.4 in 1990. It’s also one of the top 10 wealthiest states, which surely helps the marriages hold.
The divorce rate in Delaware is only slightly above the national average. In the Small Wonder, where beaches and people aren’t hard to come by (it’s densely populated!), there are fewer divorces than you might imagine for all those people.
In 2017, there were 3.0 per 1,000 total residents, down from 4.4 in 1990 — making it tied with Virginia. Delaware is another wealthy state, which gives it an edge on having marriages that work.
21. New Hampshire
New Hampshire is filled with natural beauty, including the Appalachian Trail, White Mountains and black bears. Another beautiful thing? It’s relatively low on this list.
The New England state is one of the wealthiest, which certainly impacts the likelihood of divorce. In 2017, there were only 3.1 divorces per 1,000 total residents, down from a relatively low rate of 4.7 when divorces were at their peak.
20. North Carolina
Tar Heelers are definitely not the worst when it comes to sticking (pun intended) to their nuptials. With 3.1 divorces per 1,000 total residents, North Carolinians are also roughly in the middle of the pack (tied with Missouri and Montana on this list).
The state’s poverty rate is a bit high, at about 15.4 percent in 2016, which likely contributes to their marriage stat not being better. But since 1990, when the rate was 5.1, the numbers have steadily dropped.
Midwestern Missouri, the 18th most populous state, is known for the glorious St. Louis Gateway Arch and its top-notch barbeque. And divorces aren’t terribly popular, according to the numbers.
There were 3.1 divorces per 1,000 in 2016, down from 5.1 in the early ’90s, making it tied with North Carolina and Montana for the 18th, 19th and 20th spots. In terms of finances, Missouri is on the upper end of the coin, as the 22nd richest state, which definitely doesn’t hurt the marriage maintenance. Still, there’s room to grow.
In the northwestern state of Montana, divorces aren’t all that popular either, with the same 3.1 per 1,000 total population in 2017, down from 5.1 in 1990, as Missouri and North Carolina.
In Big Sky Country, the median income is on its way up, which likely helps to drive the divorce rate down. It’s also one of the healthier states, with a very low obesity rate, so surely, health and happiness are going hand-in-hand.
Up north, lobsters aren’t the only thing to catch and keep. Mainesters are working on their love skills but still come in at No. 17 for most likely to divorce. The most current stats show only 3.2 divorces per 1,000 residents.
Back during the divorce boom, they were on the lower side at 4.3 in 1990. Maine is one of the wealthier states, which keeps divorces from topping the list, but they aren’t quite coasting through their marriages in this coastal state.
Out in the mountainous state of Colorado, things are moving in the right direction when it comes to love that lasts. Colorado residents certainly aren’t at the top of this list, perhaps thanks to all that time spent on the slopes. Because the couple that skis together … stays together? Maybe, maybe not.
In 2017, there were 3.2 divorces per 1,000 total population, which puts the Centennial State right smack in the middle of this list of 30 states. But like a kayaker headed downstream, the divorce rate has dropped since the early ’90s when it was 5.5.
Coming in at No. 15, the largely Mormon state of Utah is far from the worst at keeping its vows, but it still makes the list. Out west, Utah residents had an average of 3.4 divorces per 1,000 total population. With fewer people attending college here than average and getting married earlier instead, the divorce rate adds up.
While other states had good upward strides, this one was only marginally improved from its 1990 ranking of 5.1.
Just a hop and a skip further west, Oregon residents aren’t quite as good at marriage as they are, say, windsurfing and drinking craft beer. Residents in Oregon towns with the highest divorce rates tend to be older, and the lack of millennials might be pulling down the divorce rate a bit, (since the aforementioned younger married couples seem to be staying married these days).
This state had the same 2017 divorce rate as Utah, at 3.4, but did a bit more poorly in 1990, at 5.5.
The western states aren’t having a great run when it comes to how they rank on the marriage front. Maybe the rainy days in Washington have some ill-effects?
Either way, Washington state residents got divorced at a rate of 3.4 per 1,000 total residents in 2017. But it’s reduced year after year since 1990, when it was 5.9.
12. West Virginia
West Virginia has mountains, rivers, swirling country roads and wildlife for miles. But forever love? Now, that might be a tad harder to come by. Despite economic growth across the state, the poverty rate has increased in recent years, making divorces pretty mainstream.
West Virginia residents aren’t totally doomed, though! Since 1990, they’ve definitely improved theirs stats, going from 5.3 per 1,000 total residents to 3.5, in 2017.
Georgia residents may have the sweetest peaches around, but not the sweetest romances, as the state comes in at No. 11 on our list. The lower median incomes than the national average likely have something to do with Georgia still struggling when it comes to marital bliss.
In 2017, they had 3.5 divorces per 1,000 total residents, down from 5.5 in 2017.
The No. 10 spot goes to Tennessee, whose residents aren’t doing so great either in the marriage sector. The poverty rates in this southern state are quite high, which unfortunately, means the divorce rate is soaring, too.
They had the same number of divorces as Georgians did in the year 2017, which was a major improvement from 6.5 back in 1990. So, kudos for that!
Out in the desert, the marriage rates are a bit rocky. Though Arizona was one of the first states to adopt a law giving couples access to premarital training, it doesn’t seem to have helped keep couples together for the long haul.
While in 1990, our friends from Tucson to the Grand Canyon had a rate of 6.9 divorces per 1,000 residents, they’re definitely doing better these days with a rate of 3.5.
At least Floridians have all those sunny days and ocean views to combat their marriage blues. But the truth is, it might not help all that much. While reports show many moved to Florida for a positive change when their marriages were in trouble, the beach couldn’t take all their blues away, and divorce was imminent.
Our beach-loving friends have a rate of 3.6 divorces per 1,000 residents, down from 6.3 in 1990. That number keeps decreasing, like those curly waves, but it still falls in the top 10 on our list.
At lucky No. 7, Kentuckians are not all that lucky when it comes to choosing mates for life. The residents here divorce at a rate of 3.7 per 1,000. With higher than average marriage rates overall, it makes sense that the divorce rate follows suit.
It’s getting better since back in the early ’90s, when the rate was 5.8. But we’d be better off betting on the Kentucky Derby than these marriage stats.
Alabamians’ divorce rates are pretty similar to those in Kentucky. In 2017, they divorced at a rate of 3.7, down from 6.1 in 1990. Again, with high rates of marriage overall, and lower-than-average median incomes, Alabama is likely to continue earning a top spot on the divorce list.
They may be known for southern hospitality, but all that sweetness may not translate to love that lasts.
While they are still struggling with wedding bliss a bit, Arkansas residents are definitely improving their stats! With people statistically marrying young (over half of first-time brides were under 24), it’s no wonder the marriages go off the rails in high numbers.
Divorce rates have seen a steady decline over the years from 6.9 per 1,000 residents in 1990 to a rate of 3.7 in 2017.
Folks in Idaho sure know their potatoes, and we love them for it. But when it comes to till-death-do-us-part, they’ve got some nurturing to do. Given it’s one of the states with the highest rates of marriage to begin with, not to mention high levels of poverty, too, it makes sense to see Idaho near the top of the list.
In 2017, they had a rate of 3.9 divorces per 1,000 residents, down from 6.5 in 1990.
While it’s known for Old Faithful, the divorce rate doesn’t reflect the name of the famous geyser. With high rates of folks who get married young, the high rates of divorce add up. The state also has some of the most marriages overall, with high rates of people who get married two or three times.
At No. 3 on the list, Wyoming has 4.0 divorces per 1,000 residents. It’s fluctuated back and forth over the years, but made a pretty decent jump in the past 29, when it had 6.6 in 1990.
Coming in at No. 2 on our list is old Oklahoma. In the Sooner State, it looks like you’ll sooner be divorced than coupled up for all your days. With lower median incomes here than in most states, the poverty level is likely to blame for Oklahoma’s No. 2 spot.
With the second-highest rate in 2017 of 4.1 per 1,000 residents, it’s not looking great for lasting love. But at least it’s made some major strides since 1990 when it was almost double that at 7.7.
It’s no real surprise that the state where you can get married in Vegas for $39 after a night of gambling away your dignity is the biggest loser when it comes to lasting marriages.
It’s still a roll of the dice, but either way, the odds are looking up because this state has seen a huge drop in its divorce rate, which has been steadily declining over the years. At 4.5 per 1,000 residents in 2017, it’s practically plummeted from 11.4 in 1990. Jackpot!