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Family Law Blog

Comment on divorce & family law 

Why can’t we stay married?


Three years. That’s the amount of time a modern couple are most likely to stay in marital bliss before things go wrong according to a new survey. 

The study of 1,500 people for netmums found that couples are now more than four and a half times more likely to split up after three years – well ahead of the famous seven year itch.
So why is this? What has changed to turn a seven year itch into a three year one? A simple answer which was floated in the article in the Independent where I first read about these stats was that people are getting married later – but sooner after meeting – then having children quickly and then finding that they do not want to be with the person they married. Is this really a reason, a trend or a sign of the times?
In days gone by (I am not pining for them or suggesting they are any better than today, just pointing out that they are well in our past), a couple would meet, court and marry, on average, much younger than couples do today. Marriage was an essential step in the process. The most common arrangement then was that the husband would go to work and, within a couple of years, they would have children and wife would be the home maker. 

These stereotypes have been eroded over time. That is not to say that this still doesn’t happen, but it is not necessarily the most probable set up. In this day and age, many couples decide to have children before marrying, others will focus on a career for a number of years before deciding to settle down and start a family. 

Is it then a biological alarm clock going off (both for the man and the woman) that signals a sudden desire to rush through steps A to D very quickly and which doesn’t then leave them in the best position for a long term relationship? Could be. I merely present these thoughts as discussion points. 

However, I would like to see more support for couples going through a rocky patch, whether they have been together three years or 30 years. I still believe marriage is a great institution and should be what people aspire to ultimately. I would not want people to be put off tying the knot in the light of these statistics. Perhaps it is the case though that getting married and having children later in life comes as more of a shock to the system and lifestyle than it may do for those starting out together earlier in life. 

Andrew Woolley
Family solicitor

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