SIKESTON -- The number of people saying, "I don't want to anymore," is catching up with those proclaiming, "I do," according to the most recent figures provided by local county officials.
Nationally, there is one divorce for every two marriages. But on the local level, the ratio is on pace to break even.
For example, Scott County Recorder of Deeds Tom Dirnberger said 322 marriage licenses were issued in 2005 while Circuit Clerk Pam Glastetter said 226 divorces were recorded.
Dirnberger, for one, wasn't surprised by the close figures.
"I might have 18 or 25 marriages and Pam will have 18 divorces in a month," Dirnberger said. "When I first came here in 1995, we were doing 22 marriages a month and I could see where Pam was recording eight divorces -- and over that period, it's gotten a lot closer than 2-to-1."
In New Madrid County, 139 couples were married last year while 107 couples divorced. Of those divorces, half involved couples with children.
"It's an unfortunate situation and surprising to me," said New Madrid County Circuit Clerk Marsha Holiman about the figures.
Marriages in Mississippi County for 2005 totaled 117 and divorces totaled 64.
Mary Griffith, a Sikeston attorney who handles divorce cases, said she hasn't noticed a large increase in the number of people filing for divorce.
However, of those who do file, the cause is for less personal reasons and more for monetary reasons, such as someone having bad credit or losing a job, Griffith said.
And Griffith has also noticed more people filing for divorce "pro se," which means they're filing on behalf of themselves without an attorney, she said.
"And that definitely has to do with money because many people can't afford to hire an attorney," Griffith noted.
For example, the average cost of a divorce in the United States is $15,000, according to DivorceMagazine.com.
Griffith said she isn't sure why the ratio is lower in the three-county area versus the national rate.
"Maybe different areas are impacted by economical circumstances," Griffith said.
Griffith also noted in her observation -- not statistics -- people tend to file for divorce in the short-term within the second or third year of marriage. Then the seventh or ninth year is the next time frame for divorces, she said. "It seems if they can make it past two or three years, then they can wait a little longer (to get divorced)," Griffith said.
Mississippi County Recorder of Deeds Judy Rolwing has also noticed a trend with short-term marriages.
"I have seen some of the same people getting a divorce, and I do remember them getting married. Or sometimes I'll read it in the newspaper that they've gotten a divorce, and I remember just issuing them a marriage license," Rolwing said.
Rolwing said she isn't sure either why the number of marriages and divorces are evening out.
"A lot of people live together for a long time and get married, and then they haven't married very long before divorcing," Rolwing said.
When couples apply for marriage licenses now, forms require the physical address of both people, Dirnberger pointed out. He estimated, in Scott County, three of four couples applying for marriage licenses have the same address.
Dirnberger also doesn't have a reason for the jump. He said: "You would think if they lived together for a year or two, that ring on a finger wouldn't make that much of a difference."