Debunking a huge divorce statistic being spread online

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In today’s video, I go down a rabbit hole trying to find a statistic being spread the internet by Christian content creators and bloggers. The claim is that John Gottman found less than 1% of couples that pray together, stay together. I wasn’t expecting to discover what I did–which is that there’s no trace of such a study. Additionally, in this video I discuss what the research actually says about couples who pray together and I share some techniques for scientific literacy during a time where pseudoscience and misinformation is rampant.

Time Stamps:
0:00 Fact-check: Do 1% of couples that pray together, stay together?
7:43 Fact-check: Do “real” Christian men make the happiest wives?
14:55 What the research actually says
19:43 Why make up statistics?
21:19 Scientific literacy tips

Alana Arbucci video:

John Gottman’s Latest Reseearch on Successful Marriage: Context and Being a Christian,That’s%20way%20less%20then%201%25.

Survey Finds Only 9% of Self-Identified Christians Hold to Biblical Worldview


@AnaPsychology says:

After recording this video, I continued diving even deeper into the 0.01% claim. Aside from the claim that this is Gottman’s finding and the claim that this is the Gallup 1997 Poll’s finding (both of which I have found zero evidence for), I found that other Christian blogposts cite a different “source” altogether called The Retrouvaille International Handbook, 2005.

For instance, on, it says the following: “In 1980, it was found that couples who were either praying  together or reading the bible together daily, and also attending church together weekly, experienced a divorce rate of less than 1 divorce in every 1105 marriages.” They cite their source as “Retrouvaille International Handbook, 2005.”

Retrouvaille is another Christian website that appears to do couple retreats. I could find no such handbook or research on Retrouvaille’s website or through Google as a whole:

However, a different site that cites the same Retrouvaille “study” says the following: “Significant evidence is demonstrating that married couples who pray, study scripture, attend church, and otherwise jointly participate in spiritual activities enjoy significantly higher levels of marital happiness and satisfaction. A national research study in the United States (1980) cited in Retrouvaille’s International Handbook 2005 established that married couples who attend church together weekly and read the Bible or pray together daily have a divorce rate of approximately 1 in every 1,105 marriages.”

Therefore, it appears that, even if this Retrouvaille handbook exists, it is merely citing someone else’s research from 1980. It’s not clear to me whose research exactly they would be citing (since I can find neither this handbook nor a scientific article making this claim), and it’s certainly interesting that no one is citing the original study directly. The closest thing to a name that I could find for this original study is "a national research study in the United States (1980)," which is not a valid citation. I would think that such a groundbreaking study, even if it's from 1980, would be name-dropped constantly across scientific communities.

This begs the question: Do blogpost claims like these try to make it harder to find the original source? If so, is that because the original source doesn’t exist? And why do the different blogposts cite slight variations of the same statistic? Some say it’s 1 in 1,105, others say 1,150, and others 1,500. Why not just stick with the same statistic? Why are they all citing different sources for slightly different statistics? Let me know what you think.

Edit: I made a couple verbal typos in the video that I'd like to correct. At 11:51, I meant Arizona Christian University, not Arizona State University. Also, at 23:03 I meant to say "the claim that Gottman found less than 1% of couples who pray together, divorce," not "the claim that Gottman found less than 1% of couples who pray together, stay together."


XD ofc its projection , just got done watching your 'defenses' video XD
and its even more hilarious that they're going all-in on the 'no true scotsman' fallacy XD
also could not agree more with the parting words – seek the truth and be willing to change your beliefs

@toddlerhandz says:

did you say, “a woke organization?”

@benji_kay says:

this kind of video, of watching you try to get to the source of a statistic that seemed too good to be true was really entertaining and educational. especially in the end were we got to real studies, would love to see more of these.

@carloscampo9119 says:

Excellent Ana

@erin_the_extra2329 says:

My jaw dropped when you said Brad Wilcox’s name. I know his name very well- he’s a professor of ancient scripture at BYU (Mormon university). As a recent ex-Mormon, now converting to Catholicism, while I do believe in God I’m very interested in scrutinizing religious claims and seeking evidence wherever possible (I don’t believe religion and science fundamentally contradict each other- quite the opposite). This video was a wild ride for me lmao. Thank you for the insight!!

@samanthaderose5343 says:

If u don’t mind me asking are you religious?

@Alana.Arbucci says:

I appreciate you Ana and I have love for you. I respect all of the research you did, thats awesome! I get a lot of questions now that I am a Christian, about the roles of men and women in marriage. The portions about male and female roles were one of the most beautiful portions I have read in The Bible. I planned an entire video around the topic of male and female roles. I took out the female role portion because the video was super long! But after planning the video, I saw the studies I shared at the beginning, and I wanted to find a way to incorporate them into my video because I thought they were super cool. But the videos and article I shared aren't extremely significant to the video or in general. My video is 30 minutes long, and I took up most of the time sharing about the actual Word of God. It has changed my life forever, in the best way, and if it helps other people, that's great! I appreciate your take and I think you are very well spoken and respectful. I think you would enjoy this video (one of my favorites, and I would love your thoughts) :

@brendarudman8806 says:

The people who pray together cover their houses with a blanket of religion
They're not in love anymore but the church makes them feel guilty for divorcing
I have seen couples like that

@Blueyzachary says:

Brad Wilcox did my maturation day and sex ed in elementary school lmao

@diamond852 says:

If less than one percent of couples that pray together stay together, then more than 99 percent of couples that pray together don't stay together. Even if the study existed it doesn't say what these people want it to say.

@compugab says:

I really appreciate how much work went into making this video. I think that while religions are not bad in themselves, they offer a lot of answers but not a lot of solutions.

@willtellez8535 says:

I’m a Christian here on my way to be a pastor soon. This was aggravating because there really is no fact checking, but that’s common thing with many people anyways to consume information what we want to hear. (Even I am guilty of this) But the more frustrating part was what a “Real Christian” is. The Bible is real clear about what really defines who is a follower of Jesus by the way they love EVERYBODY and if they confess that Jesus is Lord and he raised from the dead. That’s it..What defines different denominations is what others emphasize, such as baptism, communion etc. Ana great video as usual!!

@Marmar777. says:

Definitely different Christian sects will have different interpretations for various scriptures. One thing the sects radically differ on are the idea of a rapture and another that comes to mind immediately is Mary, the mother of Jesus. However, fundamental to the ideology of Biblical Christianity they will not pick and choose which parts of the Bible to believe in. That is just heretical.

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