A survey, carried out for the BBC, said the preferred lifestyle of 62 per cent of adults would be “married with kids”. This was in stark contrast to the number of respondents – just four per cent – who wanted to be “unmarried with partner and kids”. Overall, 71 per cent wished to be married while only seven per cent aspired to cohabit.
These findings fly in the face of the divorce statistics, which show that nearly one in three marriages ends in divorce. If so many people crave marriage above all other kinds of lifestyle, why do so many end up in the divorce courts?
There is, of course, no simple answer to this, but popular opinion suggests that many married couples jump ship when the relationship hits choppy waters rather than trying to ride out the storm by tackling their problems.
Having been in the divorce business a long time, I don’t see much evidence of this, but undoubtedly it happens in some cases – and perhaps not surprisingly. In a world that demands we seek fulfilment, new challenges and excitement at every turn, it’s not hard to see why some couples are tempted to ditch an unexciting, slightly problematic relationship in the hope they’ll strike gold next time around.
If you fall into this category, then I would urge you to look beyond the shortcomings of your spouse and the less-than-thrilling nature of your marriage and consider, before you book an appointment with a matrimonial lawyer, why you wanted to be married in the first place.
Presumably, your first answer is likely to be that you were in love with your partner and wanted to share your life with them. But you could have done that without walking down the aisle. The fact you opted for marriage rather than cohabitation suggests there was more to it than simply being head over heels in love.
My bet is that you wanted emotional and financial security and stability, along with, perhaps, social “respectability”. If any – or all – of these reasons resonate with you, then imagine them being taken away, as they will be if you decide to go down the divorce route.
Assuming your relationship isn’t abusive or utterly miserable, my advice is that you focus more on your wish to be married and less on the fact that the man or woman you married doesn’t light your fire in the way they once did.
No relationship is perfect and the passage of time can bring a certain amount of disillusionment, but before you decide to bail out, think about how it will be when the security and stability your marriage has given you is dismantled. You’ll be single again – possibly at an age when it’s not easy to find a replacement partner – you may lose your home, you may end up significantly poorer financially and you’ll have no one to fight your corner in the way a spouse, however unsatisfactory in other ways, will do.
What is more, if your main problem is boredom and niggling irritation, remember that a new relationship, however exhilarating to begin with, may also become humdrum and equally exasperating in time.
If this week’s survey is right and 71 per cent of adults aspire to be married, the institution itself – apart from the person you married – must have something going for it. So think about this, rather than your partner’s annoying habits, and consider riding out the storm. If you do, the chances are you will reach the calm waters of acceptance, if not contentment, and be glad in the end you didn’t decide to jump ship.