Learning from Experience 

Published on 11 February, 2017 | James Brown

No matter how amicable the process is, there are few individuals who ever say that they enjoy divorcing.

The end of a relationship which, in some cases, might have lasted decades can cause distress, even though the marriage which preceded it may have involved tensions which proved impossible to overcome.

When there are children, that upset can be magnified and have lasting consequences.

As I’ve been telling the Daily Mail (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-4213832/Do-couples-watched-parents-split-try-harder.html), many couples who come to see us report because their marriages are in difficulties desperately want to avoid divorce due to the bad memories created by their parents’ break-up.

Their experiences are in line with official figures showing that although incidence of both marriage and divorce has declined over the last 20 years – due in no small part to an increase in cohabitation – it is divorce which has seen the greater drop-off. It is actually down one-third since the peak of 1993.

In addition to what I believe is the generational impact of divorce, there are other notable developments.

Men now account for a greater share of those petitioning for divorce than they did before. That is arguably due to the number of women demonstrating a maternal instinct to protect their children in a manner which they perhaps did not enjoy themselves as their parents’ marriages imploded rather than filing for divorce themselves.

Couples also cite the frequency of media reports about bad divorces – those bitter and long drawn-out splits – as having a deterrent effect, adding another reason why they should think twice about ending their own relationships.

It has to be said that the vast majority of divorces are nowhere near as combustible as people might deduce from certain press articles.

However, even a calm and rational assessment to bring the curtain down on a failing marriage is not without its consequences.

If the pattern which we have detected continues, it might be many years before the true impact of divorce – even stretching back to changes in the law during the early 1970s – is revealed.

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