A starter marriage is a first marriage that lasts five years or less and ends without the couple having any children together. The term, a play on the expression "starter home", appears as one of the footnotes in Douglas Coupland's 1991 novel Generation X. However, published usage of the term grew significantly after the publication of Pamela Paul's 2002 book The Starter Marriage and the Future of Matrimony.
She claimed that some young couples get married for reasons not strong enough to support a long relationship, and that an increasing number of them end their marriages quickly. Paul's book caused controversy for suggesting that these divorces are a good thing, if the couple have not had children.