A lasting memory of my secondary school education is our teacher asking the class, “How many of you have parents that are divorced?” Bar one, the entire room raised their hands. Now I was a typical teenager, interested in boys and make up rather than social economics, but even so, it still stuck me as a bit sad.
Apparently 42% of marriages now end in divorce. That’s a staggering amount and something I had previously assumed was just a made up figure that Bridget Jones’ singletons might throw into conversation to annoy ‘smug marrieds’. Now before I get lynched by a mob of angry single mothers I want to clarify at this point that I was in the majority group of ‘divorced parents’ raising my hand. This is not an article against divorce, nor a statement against parents that separate. There are often valid reasons for divorce, as in the case of my parents, where staying together would have been to my detriment as I would have grown up in a household full of hate, whereas separately, I was loved by each of my parents. So single mothers, single fathers… I am not against you. I have respect that you made the difficult choice you had to make and I appreciate the way thousands of separated people make things work for them and their families.
My reason for writing however is about the ease at which couples seem to divorce nowadays. It seems that just as a puppy is for life and not just for Christmas, a wedding should be for life and not just for the gift list at John Lewis. Are we too ready as a culture to just pack it in and walk away from our betroved without a backwards glance?
Celebrity marriages do nothing for the reputation of marriage with Britney Spears’ marriage to Jason Alexander in 2004 lasting just 55 hours. How are young couples expected to believe in the sanctity of marriage when Zsa Zsa Gabor (married 9 times) was married for less than 24 hours to Felipe DeAlba? It seems that some modern marriages are carried out on a whim and there is no intention of death till us part. Moreover, it appears there is a lack of effort in making things work, with a throwaway attitude of ‘if it’s difficult it’s not worth trying’. Now I know this is not the case with all divorces, please don’t get me wrong. So don’t take offence if you’ve tried for years to keep your marriage together, only to realise divorce is the best option for everyone. That’s an entirely different thing. I am only thinking about those people who walk away at the first sign of trouble.
My grandparents were married in the 1950s, in a time when divorce was still frowned upon (except perhaps by Elizabeth Taylor) and marriage was for life. The total number of divorces was recorded as 30,870, whereas in 2012 it is noted as 118140. Now I can assure you my grandparent’s marriage wasn’t all sunshine and belly fluff, they experienced their share of hardships, disagreements and heartache, but they worked through it and made their marriage work. They were together till the end, married over 50 years.
I’m in my 5th year of marriage and I like to think we will go the distance. If we do however, it seems well be bucking the trend with figures showing a staggering 13 divorces an hour in 2012. Both mine and hubby’s parents are divorced so it seems a tall order to beat the odds. I’m not naive enough to believe in fairy tale marriages but I’ll certainly work hard to achieve our happy ever after if that’s what it takes. And if not? Perhaps I’ll remarry a divorce lawyer; they must be raking it in!