Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

Divorce.

I saw a report this week stating that over 50% of marriages in the UK end in divorce. As I have been divorced twice myself, my own strike rate is a little higher in that regard. But I woke up today wondering if the institution of marriage is something that may one day be consigned to history.

In 1970, I was Best Man at a close friend’s wedding. The bride and groom (and me) were just 18 years old, and some people suggested that they were too young to get married. They defied the odds, had five children, and are still together today. They are the only couple I know from that time who didn’t separate, or get divorced.

I don’t suppose any of us get married believing it won’t last, or intending to just ‘give it a try’. For most people, it is a huge emotional commitment, as well as an expensive day. I didn’t get married in 1977 expecting it to last only eight years, that’s for sure. I anticipated raising a family, retiring outside of London, and celebrating my silver wedding anniversary with family and friends.
But that was not to be.

When I married again in 1989, I was perhaps more cautious and realistic, but still felt the need to show the commitment by having a proper wedding. No prenuptial agreement, and no talk of children by this time. We were both mature, and with both of us working in well-paid jobs, we could afford to live in a nice house, and enjoy a very comfortable life. But that didn’t work either, mostly because I became disillusioned with life in general, and marriage in particular. I had tried marriage twice, and failed both times. But I still believed in it as an institution, perhaps because of my background.

Even an amicable divorce can be emotionally draining. Despite having no children to consider, I had to lose half of everything I had built up over more than a decade, as well as some mutual friends, and a family I had come to think of as my own. And that happened twice. But by 1997, divorce was much easier. Some claimed it had become too easy, and couples no longer tried to work out their problems, taking divorce as an easy option. But as anyone who has been divorced can tell you, there is nothing easy about it.

In fact, I was all for the laws changing to make it easier to get divorced. When I was young, it was very difficult to obtain a divorce, and people went to great lengths to get one, including pretending to spend the night with another person, to provide grounds of Adultery. In so many cases, this left women being physically or mentally abused for much of their marriage, as they didn’t have the support, or the finances, to get divorced from husbands who treated them shabbily. Men suffered too of course. Living with domineering wives who nagged at them until any love that existed was not even a memory. So the change in the law was to be welcomed, as far as I was concerned.

When I got married again in 2009, I had learned my lesson, so took my time. We were together for nine years before we married, and both ready to share the same plans for the future. Meanwhile, the whole idea of marriage was changing around us. People could now get married almost anywhere, no longer restricted to a church, or the offices of their local council. And they could also marry anyone they liked. Men married men, and women married women. In some cases, transgender women married transgender men. Some married people that they had met online, and some from countries on the other side of the world.

It seems that marriage has never been more popular. So perhaps I have answered my own question.
But then divorce has never been so popular either…

78 thoughts on “Thinking Aloud on a Sunday

  1. I’m on my second marriage and for my husband, I’m lucky number 3. O married at 21 the first time and looking back now i know i chose badly. This time in my 40’s i hsve a better idea of where i want to be and we both sing off the same page. We’ve been together almost 7 years but married only a few months. We are so extremely happy and long may it continue.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I have been married for almost seven years. I am not sure how I actually feel about marriage as an institution. Once you have lived together long enough to have significant joint possessions or involvement in each other’s families or mutual children, I think whether you bothered with the “I do’s” or not, isn’t really that relevant in the complexity of disentangling the connections. I don’t mimage inf Mr O and I go our separate ways that I would ever get married again.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. While reading I had to think about my brother. His first marriage reminded me of the song “We where married in a fever…”, it did last only one and a half year. His second marriage has been a very big event – divorce after seven years. He took nine years to marry his third wife, and this marriage lasts since fifteen or sixteen years now. πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I think we are the only country now who doesn’t have divorce. Why try to save a marriage when it is a misery for you to stay together and those differences present a glaring evidence of an unhappy married life?

    Liked by 2 people

      1. None, none yet anyway. That is why I can’t officially change my name back to Abuel since the ex-hubby took No 2 two months after Nissa got married and three years after he came home for good. He stayed abroad for so long only to leave his family with an equally unworthy person six years ago. We have moved on. I was a solo parent for more than twenty years.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Gosia often jokes that her mum would never let her divorce me, at least I think she’s joking about the divorce!
    I think the religious faith that still runs deep in Poland probably has something to do with a much lower divorce rate then that of the West, although I have read that it is now up to about 25% and rising.
    Funnily enough a few members of the extended family dont believe we are married as we only had a civil ceremony, they still came to the party though πŸ™‚

    Liked by 3 people

    1. I came across that thing about ‘not being married’ as my second mum in law was Irish, and thought only a church really counted. (She liked me a lot though, as all my in-laws have, fortunately.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. We are celebrating 30 years for each of our second marriages. I love being married, but we do it in the context of our religious faith where it still has a particular sacramental meaning. I think that there will be more of a distinction between faith based marriages and civil marriages in the future and expect civil marriage may decline. I recently read the 100 year old and therefore no longer sealed divorce proceedings of my paternal grandmother. In the suit her husband brought against her in England, he had to prove adultery on her part. He had hired a detective to get proof. It was certainly an ugly process.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It was a disturbing system in the old days indeed, Elizabeth. I am sure you are correct, in that religious people will continue to get married, and generally stay together longer too. Although I am an atheist, I still regard it as a serious commitment, despite my two failed marriages.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I hope I didn’t imply that only religion made for a lasting marriage since I don’t believe that at all. I meant that the formal ritual of marriage might be dropped in more cases. Solid relationships would continue. Religion isn’t necessary for marriage to last.

        Liked by 2 people

        1. I didn’t get any implication at all, Elizabeth. But in my experience, people who are religious do tend to work much harder at their marriages than many who are not. Perhaps because they share something more; like faith, and attending church.
          Best wishes, Pete.

          Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m in my thirties, have never married and do not intend to either so perhaps I should keep my opinion to myself. I don’t think I have ever believed in marriage. I do not think divorce is ever easy even if it is legally easier to get divorced. The end of any relationship is difficult and having to go through legal processing and splitting of possessions etc just makes it so much harder in my opinion.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, TC. No need to keep your opinion to yourself it is as valuable to me as any other opinion.
      If you never intend to get married, that’s perfectly fine. Everyone has to do what is best for them, after all. You are right to say that ending a marriage is something to dread. Even worse than moving house! (Which usually follows, so both stresses come at once.)
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. An interesting post, Pete. In South Africa the divorce rate is also very high for middle class people. Our poor people generally don’t get married at all because they can’t afford the lobola [ Lobola in Zulu, Swazi, Xhosa and northern and southern Ndebele sometimes referred to as either “bride wealth” or as”bride price”, is property in cash or kind, which a prospective husband or head of his family undertakes to give to the head of a prospective wife’s family in consideration of a customary marriage.]

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Very interesting, Pete.
    From the comments, marriage still seems strong.
    Despite over 50% of marriages ending in failure, it seems the vast majority of people have made a success of one eventually. And that is what they really want else they wouldn’t even do it a second time. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I agree that those of us who keep trying must want it to work eventually. I know a few people who realised very soon that it was not for them, and manage well enough on their own.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Like

    1. That sounds about right, David. People once stayed together for ‘the sake of the children’. For many these days, it is to keep a roof over their heads, and money in their bank account.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  10. Thanks for sharing your history today, Pete. I always thought it should be harder to get married than divorced. Your topic today has resonated with my own history. I’ve been divorced for 26 years. Guess what? Jim and I are marrying on Saturday! After being together for six years, it really mattered to me that he “claim” me. It was important to my grandkids, too. They wondered about our living situation and whether any love relationship would end happily ever after. Really! I’ll be keeping my own name professionally, but I look forward to being “Mrs. Brunot” in social circles…

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I knew you and Jim were to be married, but didn’t know when. You have my biggest congratulations for next Saturday. Jim is a lucky man, and I am sure he must be a very good man too, if you are marrying him. At least your initials will still be C. B., Mrs Brunot! πŸ™‚
      Love and best wishes to you both, Pete. x

      Like

  11. Pete, we do not know each other personally. Yet, I consider you to be my friend. You mentioned in your heart-wrenching post about divorce and your own sad experiences that you knew just one friend who was happily married, had five children and managed to avoid the disaster of a failed marriage. Well, meet another one. My wife and I married in 1966, raised a family of five boys, and are now enjoying being proud parents and grandparents. After more than half century of charting the waters of an often turbulent marriage, we still have our differences. But we view them as a source of enrichment and as complementary parts of our marriage life.
    My own view on divorce is: It was once too hard to get a divorce, now it is too easy. Both extremes have caused much distress for family and society. Many warm greetings and best wishes from Canada!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for your kind words, and for telling your own story too, Peter. If you have had such a long and rewarding marriage, then I am extremely pleased for you. Sometimes, I agree it is too easy to walk away from the responsibilities of a marriage. However, that is also a lifeline for some people trapped in unhappy situations.
      Best wishes as always, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  12. Interesting thoughts, Pete. I’ve been married once before and although our divorce was amicable and mutually agreed, it was not easy. I was surprised by how emotional I felt – and the feeling that I had failed at marriage took a long time to fade. I’m hoping I won’t have to go through it again. I’ve now been married 27 years to husband number two. A friend’s son was a devastated when his ‘marriage’ only lasted three days. His ‘wife’ admitted she didn’t want to be married – she’d just wanted the big wedding!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. It sounds like your friend’s son had a lucky escape from that shallow woman.

      You echo my sentiments about so-called ‘easy’ divorces. That first night alone when I moved out didn’t feel at all liberating. Just an overwhelming, crushing sense of failure.

      Twenty-seven years should be long enough to let you know it has worked. πŸ™‚
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. I can understand why you have lost faith in it, I really can. Maybe because I am older, I cling on to the idea that it is something special, even though experience has shown me otherwise.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 2 people

  13. Well I’m a lightweight, only been divorced once, but that was enough. Phil and I ‘dated’ for 5 years before we got married, and that was mainly for financial security for me, but I like being ‘The Missis’ so it works for me πŸ™‚

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Recently I posted that my Friend Ed married his friend of 35 years, Tom. They married on the 35th anniversary of when they met. Who said, romance is dead? But then, Ed commented, “If it doesn’t work out, I can always go home to Momma.” Ed is 78. I like you and several others am on my third.
    Warmest regards, Ed

    Liked by 1 person

  15. I feel like people are rushing into marriage more now. I know too many people who got married after a year, or less together. (guess how many of THOSE lasted??) I feel that that pressure is still there too. That of you don’t get married before you’re a certain age you’ll just wind up an old maid. Or you start to get jealous of friends having big weddings and getting all the attention, so you wind up out searching for anyone to have that with.
    Now, I’m not speaking from personal experience on those accounts as I’ve been with my man for 10 years now and we are not married and never plan to be. He was married once before (he THOUGHT it would be amicable…. It wasn’t.) and I’ve never been “the marrying type” as one would say. Lol!
    But, I do wish that divorce was more amicable and easier in this day and age. We have a friend who went through a divorce and he lives is a very shady part of town now because all he can afford is a tiny basement apartment after what he had to pay out, whole his wife has a house and takes vacations to Florida twice a year…. Now, how is THAT fair??

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Unless children are involved, divorce laws here are pretty fair. There is generally a 50-50 split of all assets. (including savings and pension arrangements) The downside of this is that it usually means any home will have to be sold or re-mortgaged, to pay each person fairly. But when a woman is left in care of children, it can get very expensive for the father indeed. I knew people who had to move out of their house, and still pay up to Β£500 a month for the upkeep of children. One guy lived on someone’s sofa for a long time.
      The obvious answer is not to get married. But then the same problems can arise if you break up, but own or have bought things together. People end up arguing over custody of pets, and even which DVD is theirs or not. You obviously have a good ten-year relationship, and one of the best ways to keep it like that is to remain as you are.
      Best wishes, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I received this comment by email from Ian, a friend who was unable to log in.

    “Like you, Pete, I’ve been married more than once. And I’ve also been thinking about marriage in general and wondering what the point of it is; so your post is timely for me.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it is becoming more and more outdated and unnecessary as time goes on. It used to be about conglomerating wealth between families and was mainly the preserve of the wealthy. As time has gone on, nowadays its only practical purpose is to ensure that people’s financial position is protected in the future, but even that practicality is being reduced steadily in the UK.

    Which leaves the non practical reasons to get married. People can have a bit of a do, declare their undying love and commitment to each other etc. But that can be done without a piece of paper from the state confirming a union.

    I read an article recently from a man who was in a heterosexual relationship and both of them wanted a Civil Partnership but weren’t allowed. They didn’t want a marriage because they saw it as an antiquated process of transferring ownership of a woman from her father to her husband. Although I think that he overstated it a bit, I can sort of see the point.”

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for taking the time to email, Ian. Sorry to hear about your issues with WP.
      I think Civil Partnerships should be fairly applied, and be available to heterosexual couples too.
      Cheers, Pete.

      Liked by 1 person

  17. The US has similar divorce rates…I also have bee-n there twice myself….Back in the 80’s there was a movement here called a no fault divorce…if there were no children or land involved then a divorce could be had in 24 hours….with the surge of the “moral majority” all such laws became consigned to history…..only way to eliminate marriage is to change culture….thaat will be a hard nut to crack….chuq

    Liked by 2 people

  18. Like you, Pete, I’ve been married more than once. And I’ve also been thinking about marriage in general and wondering what the point of it is; so your post is timely for me.

    I’ve come to the conclusion that it is becoming more and more outdated and unnecessary as time goes on. It used to be about conglomerating wealth between families and was mainly the preserve of the wealthy. As time has gone on, nowadays its only practical purpose is to ensure that people’s financial position is protected in the future, but even that practicality is being reduced steadily in the UK.

    Which leaves the non practical reasons to get married. People can have a bit of a do, declare their undying love and commitment to each other etc. But that can be done without a piece of paper from the state confirming a union.

    I read an article recently from a man who was in a heterosexual relationship and both of them wanted a Civil Partnership but weren’t allowed. They didn’t want a marriage because they saw it as an antiquated process of transferring ownership of a woman from her father to her husband. Although I think that he overstated it a bit, I can sort of see the point.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi Ian,
      This was in Spam. At first I thought someone had just duplicated your comment, but looking at the blog posts, I decided it was you on a different blog!
      Cheers, Pete.

      Like

      1. I was happily married as you know Pete – but my younger brother is on his 4th! When he married the third time there was no gift. Only a card! I presume he’s done with courting now since he is an old geezer of 71!

        Besties!

        Liked by 2 people

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