I am printing the entire article because it comes from a paid subscription site that you would not be able to access unless you were a subscriber. Once Bitten, Never Shy? Rebecca Robbins, The Herald-Times March 22, 2005 April is just around the bend; love is in the air; and here come the bridal shows. It's spring-training time for prom-goers, wedding planners and divorce lawyers. For notwithstanding statistics that 50 percent of first marriages and 60 percent of second marriages end in divorce, Americans optimistically continue to tie, untie and re-tie the knot. According to the National Center for Health Statistics, 90 percent of Americans will marry at some point during their lifetimes, and 75 percent of those who married once will marry again. Not only are subsequent marriages more likely to fail, but they are more likely to fail more quickly. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the median length of a first marriage is 7.8 years for men and 7.9 years for women. Second marriages that followed a divorce last a median of 7.3 years for men and 6.8 years for women. So why DO we keep doing it? I'm not a psychologist or sociologist, but based on personal as well as professional experience, I have a few speculations. Perhaps there is something in our biological makeup that refuses to give up on love. The compulsion to mate and nest may be something we are incapable of resisting. We are social creatures, and in our culture, the marriage is still considered to be the bedrock of the family unit. Marriage establishes property rights and thus financial security. (If people could figure out that this is why same-sex partners want the right to marry, we might get somewhere in that debate. Oops, that's another column.) We blame the failed marriage(s) on the former spouse. Because we'll choose better this time, this marriage will work. Never mind that we haven't learned a thing about how to communicate well or how to manage joint finances. We bail out at the first sign of conflict. Marriage is supposed to be hearts and flowers, not chores and money. Because we are ill-equipped to deal with conflict, when an argument arises, we use one of our favorite techniques from the first marriage: Withdraw and Sulk, Smile and Ignore It, or Flee and Stray to someone who surely "understands" us better. Never mind that none of these worked when we tried them in our previous marriage. It's not about us, remember? Maybe we like the official-ness of marriage. By becoming legal, the relationship bears a certificate of authenticity that will surely survive the messy stuff of life. The entertainment industry feeds our compulsion to wed. If the batchelorette can find Prince Charming, we can, too. Technology makes it so easy to find the perfect match. All we have to do is sit down at the computer to check the weather, and a new online matchmaking service pops up to tell us that the perfect mate is waiting for us if we answer 200 or so personal profile questions and pay a monthly fee. One site I visited while preparing this column actually contains a link to a do-it-yourself divorce site. And so we keep courting, marrying, divorcing and courting all over again. Some even re-marry the person they divorced. Meanwhile, the pre-nuptial agreements and the divorce settlement agreements keep flowing. A divorced friend of mine owns an iron that used to belong to her ex-husband's first wife; it has been listed among the court-filed inventory of three different marital households. My friend says she hasn't had much luck with men, but the iron has held up pretty well. Has she given up on the institution of marriage? Of course not; she's hoping to meet someone nice at her brother's (second) wedding in May.