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Recession Bright Spot? Divorce Rate Drops

When the Levine family remodeled their suburban Los Angeles home, the family of four was on a winning streak.

"My career started taking off," said Marc Levine.

Then 10 months ago, Marc lost his job as an insurance executive. CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes reports that Emily had to go to work full time as an occupational therapist.

"It's been stressful," she said.

They began to argue.

Divorce Rate Study

"The most difficult conversation is trying to decide whether or not I need to make a change in my career plans," Marc said.

"You were really worried she might leave," Hughes asked.

"It crossed my mind a couple of times," he replied.

Like the Levines, experts point to role reversal: men suddenly at home and women back to work, as a major divorce risk factor - it's happening more and more since 75 percent of the job losses in this recession have been shouldered by men.

But the Levines have held on.

"We needed to put the financial issues behind us and focus on our family," Marc said.

Call it the silver lining of the recession: Last year in the 44 states reporting data, the American divorce rate dropped to its lowest point in 30 years.

There were almost 20,000 fewer divorces in 2008 than 2007.

"What we're seeing is some people are postponing divorce because home values have dropped," said Brad Wilcox, director of the National Marriage Project. For others, the recession has led to a new sense of togetherness."

While it's hard to ignore the tabloid headlines of high-profile divorces, experts say for the rest of us, the statistics show marriage in America is becoming more stable. As Americans tightened their belts and paid down credit card debt, marriage experts say the stress relief made for happier couples.

The Levines weathered their crisis with the support of family; lucky for them, Marc's sister Stacy is a marriage therapist.

"They're figuring, 'Here we are, we're together, times are tough, let's try and reconnect and bring back some of what we had when we first met,'" said Stacy Kaiser.

Now they have fewer dinners out and more family game nights at home. As tough as it's been, Marc said it's allowed them to fall deeper in love with each other, and their children.

If they can get through this, they can get through just about anything.

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