I'm often asked to speak to groups about issues affecting professional drivers and their families. One of the most common misconceptions I address is whether or not this occupation has a higher divorce rate than that of the general public.
You've probably heard the claim that half of all marriages end in divorce. Although the rate has decreased slightly, it still hovers around fifty percent in both the US and Canada according to Divorcerate.org. However, these figures vary according to the age of the couple when they marry, as well as other demographic criteria.
Despite all of the research done on the subject of divorce, it's difficult to find information that correlates divorce to occupation. For this reason, I am hesitant to make any claims about professional drivers and their success in marriage.
As a graduate student, I chose to complete my Master's Thesis on, "The Diverse Identities of Women Married to Professional Drivers." My research focused on how women can transform from a strong, independent single parent or spouse to one-half of a couple when her husband walks in the door after days on the road.
Women married to professional drivers have two distinct roles, depending on whether or not her husband is home or on the road. My doctoral advisors challenged me to determine whether these marriages lasted longer than the average. I couldn't find any statistical evidence that marriages in the trucking industry are less likely to be successful than others.
Instead, what I found was that distance and time apart do not influence whether a couple is happily married or not. Their relationship does not depend on how often they are together. The determining factor related to their values.
If someone is prone to cheating on his or her spouse, it doesn't matter if their job takes them hundreds of miles away, or they work in an office down the road. A partner who cannot remain faithful in a marriage will find a way to deceive a mate and it's not related to a particular career path.
A study by Dr Michael Aamodt, an industrial psychologist at Radford University in Virginia, found that the top three riskiest jobs in regard to marriage were dancers, choreographers and bartenders. Massage therapists and gaming cage workers followed by extruding machine operators and gaming services workers made the top career choices with the highest divorce rates. Factory workers in the food and tobacco industries and telephone operators were also listed as having the greatest risk to marriage.
Professional drivers did not even make the top-ten list for those with the highest rate of divorce. Dr. Aamodt did find that jobs involving long hours and unpredictable working patterns were more susceptible to divorce, and it would seem that driving a truck would fall into that category. However, shift work, overtime and weekend work did not seem to affect the success rate of a marriage.
If you're curious about the careers with the least likelihood of divorce, the lowest risk occupations werenuclear engineers, podiatrists and sales engineers. Directors of religious activities and clergy were close behind.
Some factors that do correlate to variable divorce rate are education, geographic areas, religion and politics. There is very little information that addresses occupation and marital success.
The next time someone claims that professional drivers have a higher divorce rate than the general population, ask them to prove it. They can't, because it's not true. Time and distance apart are not predictors of marital success.
The only conclusive evidence I can find that relates to divorce comes from Groucho Marx who once said, "Marriage is the chief cause of divorce".